Once in a while you come across a place that your blog misses!!!! It is almost like a sin if the food blog does not have a place like that. Shiraaz is one such place! The first time I went there was almost 3 years back, but for some strange reason, I have not documented it and till today I have not figured out why! But here it comes, finally!
Shiraaz is an Iranian restaurant, run by an Iranian family inside the Cholamandalam Artist Village premises. On Sundays, like most places, they run a buffet! The setting is relaxing, though during summer, it might roast you! Outdoor, amidst plants and cats and trees, a relaxing setting that can seat about 30-40 people and a small indoor that can seat a maximum of four people is all that the cafe is made of. Cutlery is simple, food is in hot cases and service is by two ladies and the owners are inside explaining the dishes to you! This is a place for a slightly different palate, so if you are expecting a Mediterranean Chilly Chicken or something on those lines, you will be disappointed. Food is rather bland, but flavourful with spices, so beware! We met a couple there, who we saw after almost two years and they were raving about how Shiraaz is a second home for them. Other than them and another couple, the rest were all foreigners, so clearly, the food is aimed at them!
As soon as we were seated we were served a nice sorbet in a large glass! Perfect for summer, but it served another purpose - palate cleanser between courses, but you won't really need one! We started off with a superb soup - made of dill, lentils and a whole lot of others and was even named Dil Lentil Dhal etc etc soup! A bowl of thick curd was right next to it and we had to put a dollop of curd on the soup and then have it!
Then we filled our plate with the first course from the buffet - grilled chicken, chicken roll, fish n prawn bake, hummus with crispy pita bread, egg scramble and some salads. The hummus here is an awesome hummus - easily the best in town and, as the friendly owner puts it, 'as authentic as the ingredients will allow'! The chicken roll was very nice that day and all of the foods had a slightly different flavour to it.
The second set of dishes wowed us - there was this orange peel rice, brilliant would be an understatement, a dill rice and a saffron rice and there was a naan. The naan was a blot on the wonderful carbo component of the meal - it was hard, flavourless and pretty tasteless, but the rices more than made up for it. To pair them, there was a roasted plum chicken, which was excellent, a superb prawn and fish gravy, and some pretty average herbed lamb and a prawn biriyani. Two helpings each and we were nearing our stomach capacity! Normally I would have called this a poor tomato rice, but now that I understand that biriyani is a world dish that is customised to the location, I am just going to say that I preferred the other rice varieties on display.
We took a break to ease out some space and then went for the short dessert course - it has just five desserts - a kulfi, a carrot cake, another cake, a dessert called strawberry magic and of course some fruits. All five were brilliant and it was quite different to see quality over quantity. We finished off with some spiced hot black tea!
Overall, it was a brilliant meal. But if you had to keep one thing in mind - get your backside here by 1 or 1:15 PM max, so that you get the food hot. The buffet almost does not change, so unless you liked the food so much to go back, don't expect a new set of dishes the next week. Chat up with the friendly gentleman who is willing to tell you stories about the origin of some foods and praises his wife for serving up 'Iranian Home Food for the Indian'
4/5 and this place reminds me of a wonderful Mediterranean restaurant that shut down - CEDARS!!!
Shiraaz Cafe is open till 8 PM is what I was told and it is located inside the Cholamandalam Artist Village premises on ECR! Its the building with red walled compound and should be easy to find!