We're all familiar with kebab restaurants, with dozens of choices in the Glendale/Burbank area alone. But how many of us have gone deeper into their menus to savor some of the more complex and savory dishes of the Mediterranean and African countries?
You will do well to try the Shekarchi Restaurant, a newcomer to Glendale and part of a chain of three in the Los Angeles area. I was eager to try its version of Persian stew — Ghormeh Sabzi — chunks of beef marinated for more than a day, then simmered with red kidney beans and a variety of tasty herbs. This is said to be the national dish of Iran, and can also be made with lamb, but Shekarchi prefers to show off the beef, which is so tender it melts in your mouth.
I am pretty sure onions were used, but they were so well simmered and blended into the dish that there was absolutely no sharpness or bitter taste. The stew is so tasty, you'll want to take it in slowly, in small bites, allowing the subtle marinade and essence of wine to linger in your mouth as long as possible.
This dish is available only on Tuesday and Thursday, so it's a good idea to call ahead and make sure it's available.
Another stew, Gheimeh Bademjan, is served on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The beef is the same, but the stock is made from yellow split peas and herbs.
Not being a stew lover, my wife decided to try for her favorite kebab, the Barg (filet mignon). She's very picky about her filet mignon, and didn't complain at all. But I found it to be on the chewy side, and slightly overcooked.
The side dishes didn't disappoint. They offer a very nice hummus, a decent shirazi (tomato and cucumber salad) and a respectable but not very exciting green salad. As for something to wash all this down, I had my first experience with homemade Doogh, a Persian yogurt drink. It has the consistency of buttermilk, and is very tart. Definitely an acquired taste and one that I hope to acquire some day.
Shekarchi's Glendale location is a small but inviting place with comfortable tables and a warm, friendly staff that always has one eye on your table — not to be invasive, but to make sure you have everything you need. And, if asked, they will tell you some very interesting stories about the father who left each of the three U.S. restaurants to a different brother. There's a fourth location in Canada.
The biggest drawback to a visit to Shekarchi is the scarcity of parking. An adjacent lot has only a couple of spaces reserved for restaurant customers, with the rest going to noisy patrons of a bar next door. So choose one of the nearby stacked city parking lots where parking is free for the first 90 minutes.
Beside the yummy stew, the highlight of my evening was watching Justin Bieber singing in dubbed Persian in a video on a local Iranian TV station. It helped make the taste of the Doogh a bit easier to acquire.
STEVE KINDRED loves to eat, but doesn't like to cook. He's been a journalist for more than 25 years, and anchors news on KFI-AM (640) radio. Reach him at email@example.com.
What: Shekarchi Restaurant
Where: 102 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Monday
Prices: Appetizers and salads $2 to $4; lunch entrees (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) $8.99; dinner entrees $6.99 to $16
Contact: (818) 241-2727or visit http://www.shekarchirestaurant.com