7141 Wisconsin Ave.

Bethesda

656-9339

Hours: 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Prices: Entrees $6.50 to $12.95.

Credit cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa.

Put Persepolis on your list. Open just a few months, this Persian restaurant has a lot going for it: An uncommon and very appealing cuisine, some beautifully prepared dishes, warm, solicitous servers and a gorgeous dining room in which to enjoy it all. To add to the appeal, the prices are very reasonable.

The cooking style here is Middle Eastern, the menu short and simple: A dozen or so hot and cold appetizers, a couple of soups, several kabobs and a trio of stews. Although some of the dishes are unremarkable, a few are absolutely smashing.

Among the hot appetizers, kashk-e bademjan is a mildly flavored eggplant puree, a dish best ordered by eggplant lovers.

Loobia pokhteh are pinto beans in a peppery, slightly tart sauce -- think of a Middle Eastern version of the traditional Latin black beans and you've got the basic idea.

Dolmeh felfel, stuffed green peppers, are a delight, the beef-rice filling intriguingly flavored. Even more interesting are dolmeh barg-e moe, stuffed grape leaves, with a similar filling and a pleasantly sweet-tart sauce.

A cold appetizer standout is the hummus, a flawless version of this traditional Middle Eastern chickpea dip.

Here the texture is perfect, neither puddling with oil nor pasty, the proportion of lemon juice is just enough to give the blend a little bite without making it sour, and there's enough minced garlic to provide some real wallop.

Aash-e reshteh is a soup reminiscent of the Afghan aush soup, a thick, rich mixture of beans, noodles, spinach, parsley and mint. It's nice, but a bit too gently flavored for our taste -- we'd have preferred more mint and pepper.

No lack of pepper in torshi, a cold vegetable side dish vinegary and hot enough to jolt your taste buds awake.

The entree of entrees at Persepolis, the dish most likely to make you return, is kabob-e barreh, meltingly succulent cubes of skewered grilled lamb, delicately crusty-surfaced and rosy pink within.

Like all the entrees here, it comes with wonderful rice, a generous, silky-textured mound of white Indian basmati cooked so perfectly that each grain is firm, tender and separate from the others.

Another skewered winner is jujeh kabob, pieces of an entire Cornish hen beautifully marinated and grilled so that even the breast is admirably juicy.

Chelo kabob-e chenjeh are skewered beef chunks, juicy and with good flavor, but not nearly as spectacular as the lamb. Chelo kabob-e barg are flattened beef strips, which we found somewhat dry.

More interesting is chelo kabob-e kubideh, ground beef kabobs with a zippy flavor.

The standout among the stews is fessenjan, chunks of chicken in a marvelously complex, slightly sweet, tomato-based sauce with walnuts and pomegranates. Ghormeh sabzi, a beef-and-spinach stew similar to the Afghan sabsi chalow, is pleasant but unremarkable.

Desserts? Rollet is an excellent yellow cake slathered in real whipped cream, and there are sometimes equally good cream puffs. Iranian ice cream, heavily laced with rose water, is definitely an acquired taste.