Although I have yet to test this theory, I believe it would be easy to spend about one million dollars in under an hour across a short stretch of 57th Street. A luxury sports car from the Aston Martin at Park Avenue would do a lot of the heavy lifting as the vehicular equivalent of a cart full of turkeys on Supermarket Sweep, and then, provided I could find parking, I’d pad out the rest at Dior, Bulgari and Bergdorf. There’s a Tiffany over there, too. Now, perhaps the billionaires for whom the area is named (their “Row,” if you will), will say it can’t be done, but I reply, try me, you beautiful titans of industry, of whom everyone is very fond. My time, your money. Winner buys dinner at Nasrin’s Kitchen nearby.
Chef Nasrin Rejali learned to cook family recipes growing up in Tehran and went on to operate a cafe there before emigrating to Turkey and then to the United States with her three young kids. Here, Rejali connected with the refugee and minority immigrant-staffed hospitality business Eat Offbeat. This eponymous Persian restaurant that opened in June follows a series of pop-ups she also hosted around town.
Halfway up the staircase to Nasrin’s Kitchen’s second-story space, the air seems to lift, too, in a mood-elevating shift. The 50-some-odd-seat dining room just has good energy, a welcoming ambiance that can’t be faked. Tree trunks of datedly distinguished marble columns, petite vases of dainty carnations and casual white tablecloths are reflected in a wall of otherwise unobtrusive mirrors. A semi-separate bar a bit farther back will soon be stocked with wine and beer and it’s worth asking in advance about the present beverage possibilities.
Rejali’s menus borrow some of those recipes from her youth, detailed in places on the menu while other items are noted by location. To start, mirza ghasemi ($12), from the Caspian Sea region of Iran is smoky and brightly, near-sweetly acidic, the eggplant and tomato dip topped with a sunny egg and served with thin, seeded housemade bread that yields from a little crisp to soft inside.
Among the mains, the khoresh-e ghormeh sabzi ($28) listed as a national dish, is abundant with beef in its herbaceous stew and easy to share, even aside from its heaps of rice. Even larger and vibrant with its galaxy of jewel-toned ingredients, the tomato-saffron chicken in the zereshk polo ba morgh ($26, linked here to Tehran) is marvelously braised to tender, covered in perfectly prepared basmati rice, slivered almonds, emerald pistachios and tart, ruby-red berries. Delicious as they are, once plated, these gems won’t last forever.
Nasrin’s Kitchen is located at 35 West 57th Street.