Our waiter, who's been chatting in Farsi with a couple at the next table, shakes his head when my dining mate orders a dish called khoresh fesenjan. "You won't like it," he says, allowing that the stew of boneless chicken, pomegranate paste and crushed walnuts is geared toward those who share the culture of the country now called Iran.
Never one to turn from a challenge, my husband orders it, politely declining the waiter's offer to bring a substitute if things don't work out. The stew doesn't taste bad, although its dark, tart and fruity sauce has the look and texture of mud. Still, I'd bypass it next time, since there are so many more appealing specialties at this attractive branch of the Roslyn Heights Ravagh Persian Grill.
One such enticement is the appetizer called burani bademjan, fried sliced eggplant with a vibrant tomato sauce crowned with yogurt. Another, mirza ghasemi, chargrilled eggplant with scrambled egg, tomato and garlic sauce. A saumboseh, or fried dumpling, stuffed with chickpeas and herbs, pairs well with a spicy chutney. And there's comfort to be found in the home-style green pepper stuffed with ground lamb, rice and herbs.
Lamb figures prominently on this menu. Lamb chops, at lunch, are generously portioned, juicy and delectable; lamb kebab, ordered medium-rare, comes out precisely right. But stewed lamb shank, while truly delicious, is a bit short on meat.
A major hit is the jujeh kebab, bone-in Cornish hen marinated in lemon and saffron and grilled. Brook trout, butterflied and broiled, is both delicate and savory. Boneless chicken kebab, which often can be dry, spurts highly seasoned juices when jabbed with a fork.
Most everything comes with a mountain of basmati rice, which can be upgraded with the addition of sweet and sour cherries or barberries, currants and saffron. Both versions are fruity and complex, very good.
Other than the rich, milky Persian ice cream, desserts are brought in from outside sources. You can try falooda, a frozen dessert made with noodles and rose water. Like that chicken pomegranate stew, it may be a matter of cultural preference. Good thing there's also pistachio baklava.