Open a little more than three months, Tabriz Persian Cookhouse, in downtown Toronto, dishes up traditional, authentic dishes prepared with uncommon refinement. It’s homestyle food fit for a king.
Case in point: A silky dip made from garlic and ground walnuts. The presentation turns the dish into edible art — topping the dip is Persian whey paste fashioned into a latticework, each section of which bears a garnish (crispy fried onions, for example).
A classic and unique dish of the Persian kitchen, tahchin is a loaf made from moist baked saffron basmati rice studded with moist chicken and barberries (similar to cranberries, but not as tart) and drizzled with thick yogurt. Tiny eggplants, sautéed until they’re pillow-soft, are stuffed with velvety walnut paste and garnished with a refined sauce infused with pomegranate, a brilliant sweet/tart contrast to the nutty puree. Sauteed spinach and garlic animate thick and creamy yogurt dip.
Walnut and garlic dip.
Do not miss the anar bij, a stew of superbly moist and delicate herbed meatballs in an intensely flavoured sauce roaring with pomegranate molasses tempered with ground walnuts.
Herbs, barberries, dried plumbs and walnuts turn a gigantic sphere-shaped slab of meatloaf into a royal treat. Accessorizing each main is a mound of ethereally light and fluffy basmati rice.
To finish, there’s an almond-studded cookie; a slab of flaky puff pastry layered with custard; and faloodeh, rosewater ice studded with tiny, sweet vermicelli noodles drizzled with rosewater syrup and garnished with a scoop of pistachio-studded saffron ice cream.
All of this unfolds in a sleek room tastefully outfitted in contemporary hard surfaces, an understated earth-tone palette and attractive stone adorning the bar front and adjoining wall.
Throughout the evening, Pegah Ziaei, who co-owns Tabriz with her father, is the consummate host.
Tabriz will offer catering in Toronto’s downtown core for groups of 10 and up. Buyouts will be considered for the restaurant, which seats 46.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,400 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.