The skewers we've seen; the stews are special
By Tom Sietsema
Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012
Kebabs are as omnipresent around Washington as hot air. Beef simmered in pomegranate sauce with ground walnuts, or what Iranians know as khoresht-e fesenjan, is a rarer commodity, which makes the arrival of Sabzi in Fairfax something to salute.
The small Persian restaurant brings together Pyman "Mike" Nassari and his brother, Amir, both of whom come from hotel backgrounds, as well as a cast of relatives, foremost their mother, Marjan.
Some of the stews at Sabzi are based on her recipes. A taste of her gheymeh bademjan, or beef cooked with eggplant, split peas and dried lime, leads me to believe her sons led a charmed childhood.
Evidence of the modest Indian restaurant that preceded Sabzi ("green" in Farsi) has been dispatched. Gone are curtains and carpet. These days, hardwood floors and Persian artwork, including hand-sewn wool rugs, create a pleasant backdrop for a meal that should begin with stuffed grape leaves or minted, pureed eggplant - or even better, with both appetizers. (And yes, those are the Gipsy Kings singing in the background.)
Pyman Nassari is the guy who picks up the phone and asks whether you have a table preference when you call for a reservation. Nice. Amir, an alumnus of Amoo's House of Kabob in McLean, is the one who specializes in the kebabs that dominate the short menu. Skewered lamb is the best of the bunch, big bites of meat enhanced by their time in a marinade of rosemary, thyme and saffron.
A busy night can catch the place off guard: The cocktail you ordered never makes its way to your lips, and the food can be slow coming to the table. "I'm trying to hire more servers," says an apologetic Pyman.
Let this serve as his want ad.