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Maman Zari - A Persian tasting menu

Maman Zari - A Persian tasting menu
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  • Maman Zari - A Persian tasting menu

    Post #1 - November 4th, 2023, 2:28 pm
    Post #1 - November 4th, 2023, 2:28 pm Post #1 - November 4th, 2023, 2:28 pm
    We had dinner at Maman Zari and thoroughly enjoyed it. And for $85 per person, it may be the Chicago's least expensive tasting menu. There is, however, a 20% service charge added, and the optional wine pairing is $50.

    A few general thoughts:
    The room is small and intimate, maybe 12-15 tables. And it's quiet, thank the lord (my pet peeve: restaurants filled with shouting people). Service was excellent and very friendly. It's not a pretentious place.

    A small selection of cocktails and wines by the glass. We enjoyed both and I was happy to have some Arak with dessert, to satisfy my curiosity (probably no need to have it again).

    The meal consisted of an amuse plus 7 courses. They were all excellently prepared and quite delicious. There is no attempt at great innovation or new flavors you've never had. Just very refined cooking using middle eastern flavors. The highlight was the mahi mahi in a sauce made of tamarind, cilantro, and fenugreek.

    Just one example of the attention to detail. A beef tenderloin with walnut butter was served over a small mound of rice, and the rice was completely covered in a delightfully crispy exterior.

    If I have to critique something, I might have liked a dish or two with bolder flavors. But that's hardly a criticism given that every dish was delicious.

    We left very full and very happy.

    Maman Zari
    4639 N. Kedzie Ave
    Chicago, IL 60625
  • Post #2 - February 26th, 2024, 11:39 pm
    Post #2 - February 26th, 2024, 11:39 pm Post #2 - February 26th, 2024, 11:39 pm
    My wife and I joined another couple here for dinner over the weekend and I loved everything about it . . . except most of the food. That may sound snarky but it isn't intended as such. I had a very favorable experience.

    The room is attractive, nicely lighted, comfortable, spaciously arranged and quiet (but not quiet in that joyless way). Service was notably friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. The food was creative, well-conceived and beautifully composed.

    At the end of the day, it was just a matter of me not loving the flavors of many of the dishes we had. This is mainly because I'm not a big fan of savory and sweet together. Unfortunately for me, the Omnivore (me) and Vegetarian (wife) menus at Maman Zari pretty much reside in that space.

    The Ash-E Anar -- a lentil and split pea soup with pomegranate, rice and herbs -- was my favorite dish of the night. It too, combined sweet and savory but in a way that didn't sink my ship. Ozonboron -- a sturgeon course with potato, carrot and saffron brown butter -- was also really nice. Not too much sweet there either but I'm not in love with saffron and it was fairly present here (and also in one or two other courses). But throughout it all, we had a great time. Just seeing the dishes as they were placed in front of us was a lot of fun. A few were also accompanied by some dramatic server action once they arrived. I just wish I'd connected with it more on a palate to palate level.

    While this was not for me, the overall experience was just so enjoyable all the way through that I'd have no trouble recommending it to anyone else. I guess it's proof that a place can do everything right and still not please everyone.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #3 - March 20th, 2024, 3:53 pm
    Post #3 - March 20th, 2024, 3:53 pm Post #3 - March 20th, 2024, 3:53 pm
    Very favorable 3 star review from Louisa Kung Liu Chu in the Tribune today.

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