The Loving Tongue

Café Natasha's Kabob International is all about simple pleasures

Vegetarians beware. Your entrée selections are limited, and quite frankly they pale alongside the meat dishes. In fact, my Iranian friend shook her head as she read the menu. Most of the vegetarian options would have been classic Persian preparations, she told us — if they'd had meat. We ordered the shami platter, three patties made from eggs, split peas and soy protein. These were dry and flavorless, though the accompanying yogurt sauce was quite good. Kookoo, which we tried as an appetizer, is a soufflé made from eggs, herbs, walnuts and spices. I found the hints of walnut interesting, but all of us agreed that in general it was a bit flat.

Dinner entrées come with a generous helping of rice, served al dente and usually dusted with saffron. (At lunch you can pair your entrée — from a slightly shorter list — over pita, with a salad or with rice.) The Bahramis take great pride in their rice: Café Natasha's Web site (www.cafenatasha.com) features a lengthy essay on how rice should be prepared. It's delicious, but don't clean your plate. I wished I hadn't once I tasted the homemade Persian ice cream: vanilla ice cream with pistachio, saffron and rosewater. The rosewater is a masterstroke, cutting the ice cream's heaviness, making it more like a sorbet and a lovely palate-cleansing ending to a meal.

Service at Café Natasha is unfailingly friendly. On my first visit our waitress cheerfully coached my mangled pronunciation; on a later visit our waitress was surprised when I ordered the tongue, and the server who delivered the dish was careful to explain its elements. Service did lag on a busy weekend evening, but I hardly noticed, the food was so good. Besides, with Hamish Bahrami working the small room, greeting regulars and newcomers alike, it's hard not to feel part of the family.

Warm welcome: Hamish Bahrami's hospitality is as delightful as her desserts.
Jennifer Silverberg
Warm welcome: Hamish Bahrami's hospitality is as delightful as her desserts.

Location Info

Map

Café Natasha's Kabob International

3200 S. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63118

Category: Restaurant > Persian

Region: St. Louis - South Grand

Details

Café Natasha's Kabob International
3200 South Grand Boulevard; 314-771-3411.
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. daily (closed Wed.)

Kashke-bademjune $3.99
Tongue of beef $8.99
Fessenjoon stew $11.99
Lamb shank $17.99
Persian ice cream $3.99

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During one meal she joined the table next to ours, where a mom and dad were celebrating the birthday of a daughter. After a spirited rendition of "Happy Birthday," Hamish produced a strawberry ice-cream cake and encouraged the birthday girl to share with customers at other tables. I was pretty much stuffed by then, but for a fleeting moment it occurred to me that if she'd come bearing a plate of birthday beef tongue, as stuffed as I was I would have said yes.

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