Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shandeez Grill

     Ever had Persian food? If not, I'm sure you're wondering what its like. For those unaware: Persian food refers to food from the country of Iran. This is because Iran is what remains of the once mighty Persian Empire, the same folks Alexander conquered on his way to becoming great. Interestingly enough, we have a few great Persian restaurants here in Austin. Today dear friends, we will review one of these great eateries- Shandeez Grill on Anderson Mill Rd. That's right, we do have great food even on the North end of town.

     First a description of Persian cuisine. If you've ever had Greek or Lebanese food, they are somewhat similar. You will find a lot of grilled, delightfully spiced meats, which are often lamb, beef or chicken. Even so, Persian cuisine is slightly different. You don't usually see a large bed of steamed rice with your meal when it comes to Mediterranean food, but in Persian cuisine you get perfectly cooked, well seasoned long-grain basmati - which is the much better looking and slightly more fashionable cousin to your average grain of rice. While a helping of rice might make you think more of Indian food, the flavor profiles between Indian and Persian are vastly different. Indian food, to me, is like Beethoven's fifth symphony - its dark, and loud and full of wonderful and exciting style. Persian food is more like Moonlight Sonata, the gentle and subtle undertones of flavor dance and float in a manner that makes you want to cry with joy, then move on to that next piece of lamb.

     On to the dishes. We tried the Chicken Soltani, a plate of grilled chicken and grilled flank steak served over a bed of buttered basmati. The flavors are superb, just delicate and beautiful. The meats were, of course, cooked to perfection. Tender, juicy and tasty. I had the Joojeh Kebob, a grilled Cornish Game Hen served on a healthy helping of basmati. Both of these dishes were seasoned primarily with saffron, the most expensive spice on earth. How does saffron taste? It tastes like expensive, OK seriously you’ll just have to try it and see. One other small - yet important - detail on these two dishes, is that  both are also served with half of a grilled tomato on the side. The grilled tomato, for those uninitiated, is a marvelous and easily passed over gem. Just when you think nature can't be improved on, someone puts it over a hot grill and nature sings in beautiful, seared agony. It's little additions like these tomatoes that can really spruce up a dish.

     Matt had the Adas Polo, grilled chicken over basmati topped with a sauce made with raisins, cinnamon and lentils. I know what you're thinking; "Raisins? On my savory food? No thanks!" If this is your thought process, I am sorry to inform you that you are wrong. This dish was filled with a wealth of beautiful flavor and texture. The sweet and tart flavor of the raisins, the mild spice of the cinnamon, juicy tender chicken, there is nothing about this meal you shouldn't be begging for. A long-time friend, Devyn, came along and tried the Khorest Gheymeh, a kind of beef stew topped with thin sliced and lightly fried potatoes, onions and split peas. This had a very nice earthy, mildly spicy flavor, a definite winner.

      They also have desserts. Try the baklava, a wonderfully flaky phyllo dough pastry filled with nuts, brown sugar and honey. Not in a pastry mood? Try the Persian ice cream; its an ice cream made with rose water, saffron and cardamom. The ice cream has a wonderful, floral flavor, that's just perfect.
     The impact to your bank account will be about $6 for a salad and between $7 and $14 for a kabob plate or a bowl of stew. The price is truly worth it, as the portions are large and the food is fantastic.  The Austin Food Junkies give Shandeez Grill three points of the Lone Star out of five.



General information:
Shandeez Website

8863 Anderson Mill Rd., Suite 109
Austin, Texas 78729

Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:00 A.M. - 9:00 P.M.
Friday-Saturday 11:00 A.M. - 10:00 P.M.
Sunday - CLOSED

AFJ Rating: 3 Lonestar Points 

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