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Friday, August 12

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Restaurant Wed Mar 05 2008

New Persian Restaurant in Rogers Park

Persian Stews at MasoulehSince Masouleh opened its door in early February, the tiny Persian restaurant has seen a steady stream of customers--and that's not a surprise.

Masouleh's opening was a welcome surprise in a mostly Mexican stretch of Clark street in Rogers Park. Since its burgundy-colored awning had appeared, we'd waited for its opening with anticipation. Having a place of "fine Persian cuisine with a northern twist," as the sign said, within a walking distance from home seemed fantastic. So, when it opened, we virtually rushed in.

Following the advice from the friendly proprietress, who seemed eager to educate her customers about northern Iranian cuisine, we ordered olivieh for an appetizer and two northern Iranian stews for entree. The meal started out with a fresh plate of mixed herbs, little radishes and feta; and a basket of warm pita. Then small bowls of thick barley soup came out. This was on the house. With a drizzle of green olive oil and chopped parsley, the soup had a faintly sour taste and was quite filling. Next appeared the olivieh--Persian-style potato salad with chicken and peas--which was good but skippable. The real attraction, though, was the stews.

Mirja Ghasemi, a stew of eggplants, tomatoes, garlic and eggs, had a deeply satisfying, smokey aroma. ("It comes from the grilled eggplants," said the proprietress.) I'd never had a stew--Persian or otherwise--with eggs in it, but it seemed to work fine. The tang of garlic and acidity of tomatoes made it almost Italian, but it was fantastic with fluffy, perfectly prepared Persian rice. Eggplants were also present in the other stew, Khoureshte Gheimeh Bademjan. More accommodating of carnivores, this stew was a hearty combination of eggplants, chunky beef and yellow, lentil-like peas. The beef was so tender it immediately collapsed under the slightest pressure from my fork. Because the two stews looked rather similar, I was pleasantly surprised to taste the sharp difference in their flavors. The servings were more than generous for the low price of about $9 an entree (which includes a huge platter of rice). Out of this dinner, I got a full lunch for the next day as well.

But according to the always-smiling proprietress, our meal wasn't over yet. When the plates were taken away and the leftovers boxed, she brought out a little dish of moist Iranian cakes--this one also on the house. Drenched in rose syrup (either that, or an extremely fragrant honey) and peppered with sweet cardamom, the cakes brought a field of wild flowers in northern Iran to my mind's eye. If I had any more room in my stomach, I would have gotten some thick coffee or mint tea.

The cozy space, hearty stews and friendly proprietress made me feel like I was going home, although my background certainly doesn't trace back to northern Iran. So I'm pleased to see the smallish restaurant comfortably busy after a month since its opening.

Masouleh doesn't have a working website yet (too busy with the day-to-day operation, the proprietress said). Meanwhile, some basic information follows.

6653 N. Clark St.
Closed on Mondays

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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