[Naples, Florida] BHA BHA

We liked it here. The Persian/Iranian places I know are very casual, so it was nice to go somewhere a bit more upmarket. And somewhere with a menu fairly different to the ones I recognise. I suppose the main difference is the use of beef rather than lamb. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps they find it less easy in America to consistently source lamb than it may be in other countries. That said, reading online food forums, I’d conclude that many Americans have never eaten lamb or find it too full a flavour (“gamey” is the word I’ve often seen and never quite understood), so perhaps they are just catering to local tastes with the beef.

There’s a pretty standard houmous – fairly loose, due to a lot of lemon being used. I like this, my partner thought the lemon overdone.

What we did agree on was how excellent the haleem bademjune was. Aubergine and lentils blended together to a rough paste but still with some texture – and there’s walnuts and chopped spring onions. And, in perhaps another nod to American tastes, there’s sour cream, rather than yoghurt. In the several versions I’ve had before, there’s been lamb in the blend but here it was, I think, entirely vegetarian. Yes, it did miss the savouriness from the meat but, otherwise, this was really good. There was pitta to load both starters on to and, once we’d scoffed the plate, more was brought.

For mains, barg kebab used beef rather than lamb fillet. It’s butterflied out and quickly grilled. This was exceptionally tender and, to our tastes, quite well flavoured for American beef. They decorate the plate with grilled tomato, onion and curgette. And there’s a big heap of plain basmati rice.

Shireen Polo was as good as an example as you’re going to want to come across. Perfectly cooked rice, flavoured with julienned carrots, barberries, almonds, orange zest and some other dried fruit. It was surrounded by chunks of nicely grilled chicken breats and thigh.

We took a side order of torshi – the vinegared vegetables chopped small in what I think is the Iranian fashion, rather than the bite sized chunks you get in the Arabic parts of the Middle East. We also took a side of a shirazi salad – finely chopped tomato, onion and cucumber which was fresh and light and worked well with the meats.

Thoroughly recommended.