PARSI (141 Spadina, at Richmond, 416-598-3900) Complete meals for $23 per person including all taxes, tip and a fresh-squeezed juice. Average main $10. Open Monday to Wednesday noon to 9 pm, Thursday to Saturday noon to 10 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier free. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
At the the busy corner of Spadina and Richmond where once stood an uninspiring Italian cafeteria, a professionally run Persian restaurant/takeout now brings a welcome touch of Middle Eastern atmosphere.
Six months ago Vahid Saadati partnered up with the Italian eatery's owner, Cyrus Amini, to turn Angoletto into Parsi. The overhaul is a success.
Since we're discussing Middle Eastern cooking, let's cut to the chase - the chicken kabob ($6.99). Followers of the typical Lebanese-style kabob will lament the Parsi kabob's absence of hot sauce, tabbouleh and pickled cabbage, but otherwise it's a good, fresh wrap with lots of tender chicken.
The Persian predilection for herbs is evident in the kookoo sabzi ($3.50), a frittata-like eggy wedge dyed green with parsley. Sided with mint-infused yogurt, diced cucumber and tomato, it's a well-executed savoury snack.
Parsley makes the scene in spades in gormeh sabzi ($7.99), which straddles the fence between stew and curry. Beef chunks rendered tender by slow cooking paddle in a rich, dense, dark sauce that's given complexity by the aforementioned herb, a good helping of minced spinach and some tart dried lime. It's accompanied by simple but appetizing basmati rice and an unassuming green salad you dress with lemon and oil found in cruets at your table. A bargain at the price.
Kashte badmemjoon ($7.99), a mushy conglomeration of smoked eggplant, fried onion and mint, is puzzling. More appetizing is the accompanying tricolour presentation of plain, currant- and herb-tinged basmati.
Desserts come in the form of various fruit shakes and the Parsi Special Majoon ($4.75), a blender drink of milk, ice cream, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, raisins, dates, honey and banana. It'd make a perfect summer treat, a sophisticated Iranian version of a Dairy Queen Blizzard.
Finish things off with an Iranian tea ($1), brought by the extremely helpful and well-informed server in a ornate tall glass on a silver tray, and watch the comers and goers on this cold Toronto corner.