The most memorable part of our lunch atFlame, a Persian establishment in Westwood, was the Doogh Abali. We weren’t familiar with the concept of a yogurt soda. But it stood out on the menu: Orange juice. Snapple lemonade. Green tea. Coffee. Milk. Doogh Abali.
It was sour, salty and sparkly all at the same time. Wild stuff. Our friend Bret Begun of Newsweek joined us for this lunch, and he flinched after taking a sip. Bret had been enjoying his pomegranate juice when he tried the Doogh, and clearly it was a jolt to the senses. Our initial impression was that this must be an acquired taste. But after the food arrived, we discovered that the Doogh served as a nice complement.
We ordered four dishes from their list of nine lunch specials. Our favorite was the beef koobideh. It was broiled ground beef on a skewer and seasoned so well that we actually preferred this to the chenjeh kabob, which was chunks of filet mignon.
We also had the boneless chicken kabob and lamb tahchin. The chicken was standard fare, but we were intrigued with the tahchin. The lamb was mixed with rice, yogurt and saffron, then baked like a quiche. Perhaps the mixing helped keep the lamb moist, which is never a bad thing. The rice on the outside was crispy.
For dessert, we tried the sonati, a rosewater-saffron ice cream. We weren’t huge fans of it. Of course, we were just at Scoops not that long ago, so any other ice cream already has the deck stacked against it in a serious way.
We are hardly experts on Persian cuisine, but our overall take on Flame was it was good but not great. The service was excellent. Our waiter was friendly and helpful with explanations and recommendations. The salad was fruity and fresh. Visually the place gets a major plus for having its tanor bread oven — this explains why the place is called Flame — in plain view. The negative? Yeah, it’s great that they have four plasma TVs mounted on the walls, but what was up with all of them showing a DVD of Yanni in concert? His music doesn’t make the Doogh go down any easier. –Victor.
Flame, 1442 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90024. 310-470-3399