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Cafe Shiraz, Iranian in Bradlee Shopping Center on King Street, West Alexandria - Closed

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We just had lunch at Cafe Shiraz, a little Iranian place in the Bradlee Shopping Center on King Street, and I wish we had been going more. We were served by the owners, who were very gracious, and the food was great. I ordered hot tea and it was Persian black tea brewed from leaves. (Bells and sirens are going off in any tea lover's head right now. The absence of the insipid Lipton Yellow Label is enough to recommend any restaurant.) The yogurt is made fresh in house, the yogurt sauce with dill was fantastic, the chickpea salad was wonderfully fresh with mild onion, mint, and what I assume were lemon and olive oil, and Mr. lperry's chicken kabob was pronounced "really good." He also enjoyed the rice, grilled onion, and charred tomato that came with his dish.

Truth be told, I originally thought it was a wine bar or store because of the name, and I wish I had peeked in sooner rather than later. If you are in the area, they are a great choice. They are working with fresh, quality ingredients, and the food is simple and very good.

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Based on lperry's recommendation, my mother and I checked out Cafe Shiraz for dinner last night. I certainty didn't know it was there, despite having been at the Bradlee Shopping Center a couple times recently. It was a trip down memory lane walking in, since it's in the former Atlantis location. (My grandparents frequently took us to Atlantis during childhood visits.)

We shared the Super Combo, which included kubideh, steak, and chicken skewers, along with our choice of rice or salad (choice of Greek, Caesar, Mixed). We went with the rice. The portion was huge and we had enough left for another meal or two. As Mr. lperry found, the chicken was very good, tender and flavorful. The steak was also good, though a touch more seasoning wouldn't have hurt. No complaints about the kubideh either, good flavor and nicely cooked. The chickpea salad was tasty and plentiful - with the mint a pronounced flavor, along with the lemon juice.

Prices were reasonable and the service was friendly and helpful. I'm looking forward to heading back and trying the lamb kabobs.

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Thanks lperry and goldenticket for the recommendation. My first foray into Cafe Shiraz spooked me away from trying again until last night, but I'm glad we did.

Bonus #1, live music! Friday night's acoustic guitarist is a charmer, playing to a mere handful of tables and perhaps a dozen bar patrons, an atmospheric mood-booster. The warm, dark wood interior enhanced the experience, along with blissfully dim lighting. (Public Notice Of Future Thread Rant: Is it just me, or are restaurants evolving into optical glare incubators? Musings on the confluence of energy efficient bulbs, rushed electricians, an aging population requiring more light to read, and other nonsensical theories, KMango, 2013.)

Bonus #2, we enjoyed the Super Combo with rice ($16.99), described above, and the Mezza Combo Platter ($8.99). Like lperry, I was over the moon about the yogurt dill sauce which arrived with the Barbari bread, a fresh and righteous tang not available in mass-produced varieties. For the platter, the chick pea salad, hummus, dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves), tabbouleh, falafal and mast-o-khiar (cucumber, yogurt, mint) would delight any vegetarian diner. The stand out were the falafal, deftly pan-fried, a parsley-rich, fresh and flavorful rendition that would be a marvelous meal as a larger order. The tabbouleh had a higher grain-to-herb-and-vegetable ratio than I prefer, and the entire platter would have benefited from a lemon wedge. However, I am generally a wheat-dodger these days, and was likely drinking the wrong accompanying wine (a Shiraz/Syrah, $6). Rice pudding, a smartly efficient use of the restaurant's abundant, fluffy rice ($6), touched with rosewater and cinnamon, satisfied a dessert craving while dodging abhorrent gluttony.

And our third bonus, when the check arrived, was a $2 per entree discount coupon for our next visit, encouraging us to bring friends.

Website and menu are out here.

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