A Refreshing Take on Iranian Cuisine

Bay Area foodie reviews Zaré at Fly Trap

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Smoked Salmon Amuse-Bouche.

    Zaré at Fly Trap bills itself as “Mediterranean cuisine with modern Persian influences.”

    While that’s true, much of the menu is also a refreshing take on Iranian cuisine, light years apart from the home-cooked (but equally delicious) fare that I grew up with. Located in San Francisco’s SOMA district, the restaurant’s interior oozes a swank, warm vibe that compliments the high-end Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare.

    When I visited with a group of Persian friends, I was told we had to try the Minted Memory cocktail, composed of Bombay gin, Pim’s No. 1, lemon and minted vinegar syrup (or sekanjebin, in Persian). Deliciously not too sweet and not too sour, I made a mental note to revisit Zaré’s list of Mediterranean cocktails on my next visit.

    Next came our appetizers. We started with a smoked salmon amuse-bouche, garnished with a tiny dab of crème fraiche and fresh dill.
    Our next dish was the pistachio meatballs.

    Served with a harissa, honey and pomegranate glaze, Iranians may recognize this as kofteh. Ordinarily I’m not a huge kofteh fan, but this was wonderful. The meatballs were hearty but moist on the inside, and the glaze was more tangy than sweet, which I prefer.

    Next came our yogurt-marinated flatiron steak kabob.

    This was served alongside a radish-flecked herb salad (a modern take on the Iranian sabzi that is served with most meals), mast-o khiyar (or minted yogurt and cucumbers) and lavash flatbread. Kabob is comfort food to me, so this kind of presentation was such a departure from what I typically associate it with. Not that I minded, though. The steak was tender and marinated to perfection.

    I had the morel and spring pea risotto as my entree. I’m not sure if it was because I was already stuffed from incredible appetizers, but this was my least favorite dish of the meal.

    I loved the morel mushrooms, but the risotto wasn’t warm enough and the consistency was thicker than what I’m used to. Still, the flavors were good.

    I couldn’t really eat anymore past this point, but we ordered a plate of profiteroles for dessert.

    Rich and decadent, these chocolate ice cream-filled babies are totally worth it if you can spare a little extra room in your stomach.

    Zaré at Fly Trap is a refreshingly unique take on an ancient and delicious cuisine that isn’t innovated nearly often enough. The thought and heart put into these dishes is evident in the way they’re served and if you happen to see the owner and chef, Hoss Zaré, while you’re there, you’ll know what I mean. His sense of hospitality and the menu full of surprises means there is always something new to look forward to at Zaré.

    Mariam Hosseini is a Bay Area native who has been writing about food and travel for six years.  She blogs regularly at yogurtsoda.com.