The perpetual construction site that is the Pyrmont peninsula continues to surprise me with its varied food venues tucked away beneath high density apartment blocks and refurbished historic cottages. One such place that caught my attention when visiting talk-of-the-town 1945 the other week is this one – The Persian Room located a mere 10 metres away. The corner cottage that houses this eatery has been transformed into a cosy space decked out in textured carpets and cushions, Iranian handicrafts and colourful intricately-painted arched doorways softened with sheer fabrics. It’s through these arches and the front window that you catch glimpse of succulent kebab meats grilling in delicious rows or butterflied whole chickens twirling and glistening in the rotisserie behind the counter.
The menu at The Persian Room has some familiar dishes, ones you may not have heard of as well as a breakfast menu that doesn’t feature the customary options. To begin our lunch we choose a couple of dips and are surprised by the generous size of the hand-painted bowls they come in.
The mast moosir (6) is a zingy yoghurt blended with shallots and the borani laboo (6) with its vibrant beetroot colour caught me off guard with its effervescent texture. I was about to question its fizziness when we’re informed it wasn’t fermenting and going off. It is actually meant to be like this and soda water is often added to create the fizz. In Iran at many of the cafe’s and restaurants, we are told, one of the popular things to have is a large glass of room temperature vodka, some baby pickled cucumbers (cornichons) and a bowl of fizzy borani laboo. No bread. You just sip and nibble and eat the beetroot dip with a spoon. Nice way to get sloshed I reckon!
Our first main dish to arrive is the gormeh sabzie (18) – leg of lamb cooked with Persian herbs and kidney beans flavoured by sun-dried lime. The rich concoction has the most tender chunks of slow-cooked lamb and is quite sour from the lime. The soft crunch from the beans adds a lovely texture to the stew.
The lamb-heavy menu called for another dish that featured this tasty animal. Lamb shank (18) cooked in Persian spices served with broad bean and dill rice. Flavour-wise it grabbed my taste buds with full force. The tomato sauce the shank was wading in is aromatic, slightly sweet-slightly salty and the tender pieces of tomato and onion are beautiful. Sadly the meat on the shank is tough and very difficult to get into, even with a fork and knife. I was expecting the meat to fall off the bone but all I got was some labour-intensive chewing. Another hour simmering away in the delicious juices and this shank would have been perfection.
To end our hearty lunch I ordered a small pot of the Persian coffee. Big enough for one it is lightly infused with aromatic cinnamon and is strong enough to perk me up to brave the cold and wet weather outside. I know for sure we’ll be coming back here to try some of the kebabs, meatballs or even the tongue in tomato sauce.