We’ve never been to Persia (aka Iran - does JFK fly direct to Tehran?) but it did seem fitting that our first Persian food club fell on the hottest night of the year (so far) - making the subtle Ravagh (http://www.yelp.com/biz/ravagh-persian-grill-new-york) on the Upper East Side feel like a mirage after a 15-block walk through a concrete desert.
Now, we did stop at a nearby cantina on the way, called Maya http://mayany.com/, (owned by Richard Sandoval) to quench our thirst. Happy hour specials included a strawberry lemonada with vodka and fresh mango margaritas that were perfect for a hot summer evening.
After leaving the watering hole, we crawled through the thick, sticky heat to Ravagh. Our initial reaction was a little PG-13 (well...Anne's was full on R-rated) when we noticed that the windows and doors were wide open. Did I mention it was 90 degrees outside? We opted for an inside, white-clothed table where there was an exposed brick wall, lovely pink napkins and air conditioning! Spoiler alert: our table was NOT large enough to house the army of plates we ordered. But that may be more a function of how we order food - and not speak directly to the size of their tables :)
Channeling Jake Gyllenhaal (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0473075/), we ate like princesses. Starting out with warm pita bread that just popped out of the oven, we dove into two cool appetizers and a crisp Villaggio Pinot Grigio that hit the spot. The apps included a smoky yet smooth Babaganoush (one of the best we’ve ever had) and a traditional Salad Olvieh (translation: potato salad with chicken and peas). Both dishes were a nice treat to the start of the meal - but the standout was by FAR the Babaganoush!
For the main course, we shared three plates and several rice dishes. We highly recommend the kabobs – chicken and lamb (amazing) – with grilled veggies to round out the dishes. We also shared a Khoresh Fesenjan which is a traditional Persian stew with crushed walnuts and boneless chicken cooked in a pomegranate paste. The stew was a little too rich and sweet for our liking but definitely an interesting flavor combination – and maybe a dish that's better in the winter. The general consensus was that we were glad to have tried it - but can't imagine eating it as an entire meal.
Saving the best for last were the rice dishes: Albaloo Polo which is sweet and sour cherries mixed with basmati rice and Green Rice which was dilled rice with fava beans. A perfect sweet and salty mix, the cherry rice was a stand-out while the dill was a little too “dilly” for our palettes. Unfortunately, we were too stuffed for desserts – the plates were HUGE and left very little room on our cute round table. But a glance around the room revealed some interesting and luscious-looking dessert choices. We can't forget to mention that Ravagh was kind to the wallet as well. The wine was $26 and no plate cost us more than $16.
So overall Ravagh Persian Grill was a sizzling, smoking hot success! Similar to most Middle Eastern cuisines, we can definitely say that the flavors in Persian cuisine are like fireworks in your mouth – salty, sweet, sour, smoky…take your pick.
Ravagh Persian Grill
1237 1st Ave
New York, NY 10065
Neighborhood: Upper East Side