A very underwhelming experience at Shiraz Art Café @ Tryst, especially after having waited for so long to visit this place. Earlier it was located in a place slightly difficult to access, but now it is bang on ECR in Neelangarai, right next to the Tryst Café. It looks like they share the space, not too sure though!
Being the only place in Chennai that serves Iranian/Persian cuisine, we wanted to try their specialties. We ordered Shiraz Salad, Hummus & Pita Bread, Falaffel, and Jojeh Kebab for starters. Also added Fish finger to our order, as it was a last minute request from kids. The owner politely told us that it would be a good idea to order the main course also together with the starters, to avoid any delay later on. Since it isn’t easy to judge how much the kids would eat, decided to order main course a little later.
Food took a while to come, but we were fine with that. Quickly clicked pics and started to eat.
Shiraz Salad was a very basic onion-cucumber-tomato salad, cut into small pieces and lemon generously squeezed over it, considering the juice in the bowl. It is a basic expectation to get something special when the name of the restaurant precedes a dish, here it was not so. Hummus and Pita Bread was very good, we chose the soft version and not the crispy version of the pita, and hummus tasted wonderful. Falafel was something I used to eat very often in kebab places abroad, and have always loved it. Here we got a slightly different version of it, looks-wise flattened, and somehow did not feel the same way as I remember eating a falafel, it was decent though. I was quite eager to try the Jojeh Kebab, as the name was catchy. It was served with the same salad and green chutney. First look, I was a little skeptical if the chicken was cooked well, and sure it was! A bit hard to chew, but not worthy of complaining. It was good along with the green chutney. I’m not sure what was wrong with Fish fingers, but kids who are normally very fond of it barely managed to eat it. They felt it ‘smelt’ too much of fish. Since I don’t eat it by choice, I can’t explain this any better. Starters were a mixed bag with only hummus and pita bread and Jojeh Kebab making a Persian impression.
We decided to order just one main course and go for a couple of desserts. After a quick look at the menu, ordered a Chicken Berry Pulao (I think I got the name rite) The description on the menu said, it was served with saffron rice, topped with resins, and chicken cooked in spices. Had something in mind and ordered this one. Meanwhile the plates went out to the tables around did have tempting presentations of meat and rice. I hoped mine would be one like them, sadly it wasn’t! I got a big piece of chicken in a gravy, on a bed of saffron rice, resins, and…the salad! J By now, salad had become an integral part of all plates that came to our table J Wished I hadn’t ordered it separately. This dish, was the dampener of the afternoon, clearly a rip-off! Smelly chicken, okayish gravy, absolutely no flavor in rice, nothing like what I expected for 440 bucks. I didn’t touch the chicken, just managed to eat the rest of the stuff on my plate. I did point this out to one of the waiters just as a feedback as I had no intention of asking for a replacement or a refund. We waited quite long for this dish, and I am not complaining about that because we were informed about it in advance.
Finally ordered a Baklava Cake, Persian Ice cream and a Shiraz Tea to finish the meal. Baklava cake took me by surprise. I’ve had Baklava a few times in the middle east and this cake was nothing like that except for the few nuts on it. It could easily pass off as a sponge cake. Persian ice cream was good with flavors of rosewater and saffron, kids liked it. Shiraz Tea was decent, nothing wow. I would have liked it a little less sweeter.
It took me quite a while to explain to them that we were done and were waiting to pay and leave. After asking three different waiters what happened to our bill and being told by two of them that the owner was getting it ready, it still didn’t reach us until I had to ask the owner directly. The waiters were either too scared to convey something to the owner or just indifferent, I couldn’t quite make out.
Overall, it was just an average experience and nothing worth raving about. We paid a little more than 2K, and I personally felt the experience didn’t justify it.