Alison and I tried a Persian lunch at Pistachio Grill mainly because it's one of the few ethnic restaurants within striking distance of my office. The Wilshire Blvd. location, next to the now-closed Cecchi Gori Fine Arts Theater, has easy street parking and is convenient to Wilshire Blvd.'s various screening rooms. Tucked in next to the theater, the restaurant has a shady patio with a tinkling fountain located well off the street. We started with the restaurant's signature pistachio hummus. Dryish and a bit gritty, it was not at all like the suave hummos at Mandaloun, for example, but it was tasty anyway.
Above, basmati rice and chicken fesenjun; below, pistachio hummus and bademjan with beef
Chicken, lamb, fish and cornish hen kabobs are available but we opted for two of the stews. Chicken fesenjun with pomegranate walnut sauce was a bit oily and perhaps not quite as pungently fruity as other renditions I've had, but it was still a welcome change of pace from my usual supermarket sushi and deli sandwiches. Bademjan was a comforting, hearty beef, tomato and eggplant stew, "like Grandma's brisket, only with a really good gravy," Alison said. It was similar to an Indian balti dish, but could have used a bit more assertive spicing or a little heat. I was also curious about Ghormeh Sabzi, which includes green onion, parsley, spinach, kidney beans and herbs fried with beef, but that will have to wait for another time.
Verdict: With L.A.'s ample selection of Persian food, it doesn't equal some of Westwood's excellent restaurants. But Pistachio Grill is a pleasantly hidden place for a different business lunch or pre-theater dinner. Most lunch dishes are $8.95 and include basmati rice.
8560 Wilshire Blvd.