Despite recognition, Shiraz lacks flavor
Being that Shiraz Grille just won the Grand Rapids Magazine “Dining Award of Excellence” in the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean category and recalling a great dining experience there a couple years ago, the timing was ripe for my recent venture back to the Southeast Side eatery.
Although I was concerned we didn’t have a reservation, my daughter and I were seated promptly by the smiling restaurant owner. As we entered, the room was dimly lit with Middle Eastern music playing softly in the background. Our table was adorned with beautiful, authentic-looking linens — the stage was set. For the sake of this review, I ordered a variety of food. As a gluten-free diner, I could do this at Shiraz, 2739 Breton Rd. SE, with all but two items on the menu gluten-free (excluding deserts).
We started out with the appetizer sampler, which includes your choice of four items off the menu. Served with warm pita bread and flat bread, our four picks were the Dolmeh, Maust Khlar, Hummus and Maust Museer. We added (raw) fresh vegetables as well. The presentation, beautiful arrangement and bright colors impressed me, and with my mouth watering, I was ready to dig in.
The hummus was smooth in texture, but lacking in flavor. My daughter, who orders hummus any chance she gets, commented it needed more garlic. We noted a lack of spices in all of our appetizers.
Just as we began to wonder when our salads would be arriving, they arrived at the same time as the main course. As the server started to place them on the table, I needed to coach her on removing the appetizer dishes before serving the rest of the food. So we assisted in a little back and forth with the dishes.
My daughter ordered the Shiraz Salad and the Lamb Shank. The Shiraz Salad was very fresh, prepared with olive oil, lime juice and dried mint. The vegetables were finely diced. You could almost eat the salad last — it is a great dish to cleanse your palate, but the perfect salad to eat between courses if served properly.
The Lamb Shank was outstanding. The meat nearly fell off the bone and the flavor was very unique. It was so good, we ordered a second one to take home.
Meanwhile, I ordered the Shrimp Kabobs and the Persian tossed salad. I found the rice and shrimp very dry and again the spices not as bold and robust as expected. As a fan of Middle Eastern food, I want to effortlessly experience the flavors, not search for them.
Even though the the food seemed to be fresh and well-presented, I found the lack of spices and flavor most disturbing. From the prices on the menu to linens on the table (and Cake Bread wine as one of their selections), one would expect more of a fine dining experience at Shiraz Grille. Even so, the service has a ways to go before Shiraz can offer such an experience. While I left with Lamb Shank in hand, I was disappointed that this meal was not as good as I remembered.Shiraz Grille ( Rating: out of 5 )
Where: 2739 Breton Road, SE, Grand Rapids
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday noon-10:30 p.m.
Ambiance: Authentic and pleasant; business casual
How much it will cost you: Lunch entrees (till 2:30) $7.95-$12.95. Dinner $13.00-$24.00.
Credit cards: All major
Alcohol: Yes; wine list
Reservations: Yes, but not necessary
Contact: (616) 949-7447