March 31, 2008

Great Things in Boston Part 1: Lala Rokh

Before Saturday night's Laurie Anderson concert, LL and I met up with DaHi and MaHi for dinner at Lala Rokh on Beacon Hill. We were there a bit early, so we had a couple of drinks at the small bar and got a tour of some of the copious prints and paintings that decorate the restaurant. The staff was very friendly and professional and the decor of Lala Rokh was simultaneously intimately homey and stylish. The restaurant was celebrating the Persian New Year and a Sofreh-e Haft Seen was set up in one hallway; we got an explanation if its meaning.

When everyone had arrived, we were seated and given an appetizer of some bread and baba ghanouj that was different from the Arab version I'm used to but still very good. The restaurant was offering a special menu for the New Year celebration and, since we were reluctant to leave off our conversation to read the menu, we decided to take the easy way out and just order that. It was so convenient that it even came with appropriate wine pairings, with a white wine to go with the appetizer and a merlot to go with the main course.

I started off with ash rehsteh, a lentil and beef soup garnished with a bit of yogurt and absolutely delicious. My main course was lamb in a sauce with plums and tomatoes and, while I can't remember its name now (Ghurmi sabzi, maybe?) it was so good that I wanted to lick the plate when I was done with it. I refrained, but it wasn't easy. For dessert, I had a custard with shredded bits of sweet squash that elicited a similar desire. Including the suggested wine, the tab for the New Year's dinners came to $33 per person.

Everything at Lala Rokh was perfect. The food was flawless and the service combined just the right amounts of friendly professionalism and invisibility to be thorough and helpful without being intrusive. The atmosphere of the place was conducive to lively conversation and despite the place being full to capacity we never felt crowded and the noise level was surprisingly low. We probably would have spent another hour here if we hadn't had a concert to attend.

I'd have no compunction about going back to Lala Rokh again and again. It's hard to imagine that there are any better Persian restaurants in Boston, even if there were twenty other Persian restaurants in the city.

Lala Rokh is at 97 Mount Vernon Street, near the corner of Charles. It's a couple of blocks from the nearest train station and parking in the neighborhood looks to be hard to find; the restaurant offers valet parking for $16 or you can do what LL and I did and just take a cab over. Reservations are a must here; they can be made online or by calling 617-720-5511. If you're going to visit Boston, don't miss this place!

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