When I was very young, like around age one, I was really really handsome. And I dont mean how all young babies and toddlers are beautiful in a way. I’m talking stunning beauty, almost girlish like. My nickname in daycare was Kendall. I had this ravishing hot blonde (I think that’s the correct color name) hair, and I was extremely pleasing to the eye. So pleasing that my parents were constantly worried of the ‘Ugly Baby‘ jinxing syndrome, where someone out there would successfully give me the evil eye one day. And sure enough it happened.
We were on a long train ride one day, and I cried hysterically the entire ride. Well, much of it at least. A woman then approached my parents and told them that I was obviously under a spell, which my parents already suspected. There was no way I suppose I was teething, hungry, or suffering from an ache of some sort. I was obviously cursed! And the only way to get rid of this curse according to the stranger was to wash my face with a cloth that was soaked in some… urine. Now, lets skip the part of whose urine it was or supposed to be, and go straight to the disturbing punch line. It worked! The fact that it worked that one time meant that I was essentially bathing in urine pretty much my entire baby/toddler life.
Back in the day people blindly followed old rituals the same way we struggle today with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Back then when people didnt have access to information, they rarely questioned things. The fear of being wrong, or the consequences of going against the grain were too real. You just went with the flow, and popular belief. While FOMO is not nearly as serious, it follows similar human nature traits. If we are not going to go to this hot new Persian restaurant in Prospect Heights, we are not living life to the fullest.
I am talking about one of the hottest openings last year. A restaurant that was reviewed by everyone and their mothers (My mom gave it 3 cloths!). Trying to reserve a table on a weekend these days proving more difficult than building a wall. We had to resort to a Thursday 6 pm slot. A new Persian restaurant in NYC offering seemingly well crafted, ultra instagrammable dishes that most New Yorkers never experienced. Whats not to get excited about.
First the good news. The space is chic, smartly decorated, and well lit. Well, until 7 pm at least, when they decided to dim the lights for some reason. But you got the sense that they thought of every single detail. I even thought the bathroom featuring wall to wall vintage Iranian movie posters was pretty cool. I especially liked the movie featuring Popeye knocking down a beautiful potentially unfaithful woman with his big bat, with Burt Reynolds, her lover coming to the rescue, too late.
Our first bite, the Kofteh was superb! Beef meatballs with rice and split peas that put most Italian meatballs to shame. Our second bite, grilled cauliflower was less successful but pleasant enough. Things were working early on, and life is looking full again. Unfortunately however, that was the end of the hit list
The “Ash”, a thick Persian herb and noodle stew delivered nice complex flavors the first few spoonfuls, but quickly became too heavy to eat on its own for all three of us. This was a dish recommended by a few critics, and I wonder how much of it they really ate while trying to sample the various dishes. It would have worked better with meat, in a soup form or on top of rice (which we got later with the mains) or pasta. The whole wheat noodles as part of the stew wasnt nearly enough to save the dish.
A similar fate plagued the chicken and fish, two of the menu “classics”. Interesting first few bites that quickly turned to “how do we salvage this”. The chicken’s Plum and Saffron sauce with the tart Barberries became too sharp-tasting fairly quickly. For relief I was picking on just the bird at some point. But you couldnt do that with the “Catch of the day” striped bass. “Catch of the day” is a funny concept in NYC, but thats another post/rant for another time. The sauce was overpowering alright, but the fish was too bland on its own. The Persian Ice cream was good, but flavors not much different than at other middle eastern spots.
Looking at the mirror these days, that curse 45 years ago seemed to work. But at least I’m living life to the fullest. I’m Glad I tried Sofreh, but its probably a one and done deal for me.
75 St Marks Ave (Brooklyn)
Rating: One Z (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Kofteh, Cauliflower