WELL I’ve been in this game a long time but I never thought they’d name a restaurant after me. But there it was, on Sheffield’s Abbeydale Road although it was a shame the letter ‘M’ had dropped off: Artin’s.
Nothing to do with me, of course, Artin was a name given to a Persian king, it means righteous and it’s just possible it is the first name of one of the family who own it.
I can’t be too sure of that because I had a little difficulty understanding manager Hardi Abbasspour, who told me I would have even more trouble understanding the boss, Mohammed Panpehchi, also the chef.
I was about to give it a try when a party of Iranians walked in and everybody was too busy to talk.
So we’ll just have to let the food speak for itself.
There’s been a mini explosion of Persian (or Iranian) restaurants, along Abbeydale and London Roads in the last couple of years although they do seem to get mixed up with Turkish and other Middle Eastern eateries. If you plotted them on a map they would look like one giant kebab.
Artin’s is in what was a rosewood furniture showroom advertising stuff made in their own factory. The factory was in India.
It’s been turned into a bright, roomy colourful space painted in red, blue and orange, a wooden floor with a kind of verandah outside for tables. It makes Abbeydale Road look even more cosmopolitan than it already is.
By day Artin’s is a café serving things like shawarma wraps and kebab sandwiches and in the evening Persian favourites, king sized kebabs and grills.
There’s very little for veggies if they don’t eat fish after the starters but the upside is that although the restaurant is unlicensed you can bring your own wine.
I’d already popped in for a menu ) “No problem,” said Hardi, and made my mind up to have the grilled chicken but first we had to tackle the starters.
There’s your usual yoghurt, cucumber and olive variations but do check out the mirza ghasemi (£2.99), a warm, smoky paste of roasted aubergines, garlic, tomato puree and egg folded in to cook in the residual heat. If you love omelettes and frittatas here’s another version.
It’s eaten with what the menu calls naan bread but is not the puffy, Indian type, more a crispish flat bread. As is the naan panir sabri (£2.99), a pretty boring mix of cubed feta, mint and flat parsley. This might be the Middle Eastern way but it would have been a great deal better if the feta had been marinated and the herbs given a dressing.
I love Persian pickles or torshi and Artin’s makes its own at £1.99 a serving so we ordered them. They didn’t come. We prompted Hardi. “You want some more?” “No, we haven’t had them yet.” “No problem.”
He returned with the pickles. “She was slicing them,” he said. We wondered who she was but couldn’t get an answer. Whoever you are Mrs Pickle, those carrots and especially the white cabbage are lovely.
The grilled chicken on the bone, joleh kebab (£8.90) had been sectioned and grilled like a kebab. It was pleasant, not dazzling: Persian kebabs don’t come highly spiced but have gentle flavourings.
The menu said it had been marinated in “chef’s special sauce”and I noticed the off the bone version used lemon juice and saffron. There was certainly a lemony tang about it.
My wife’s ghormeh sabzi (£7.49), said to be Iran’s national dish, is a lamb and bean stew. Dark and mysterious, with lumps lurking beneath the surface, it resembled a witches’ brew and certainly wouldn’t win any prizes in the looks department.
Flavouring comes from lots of greens and herbs (here it was leek and parsley) after which dried lime is added.
“It tastes a lot better than it looks, quite gutsy and earthy,” she approved.
Both dishes came with that long, curving grained, steamed rice, mine with a wrapped pat of butter on the side.
We asked to take a break as the restaurant got busy with families and children started to scamper about. “No problem,” said Hardi.
We accompanied our meal with fruit juices (£1.99) because we were having a government approved alcohol-free day. I had pomegranate because it’s a feature of Persian cooking and I could bask in the knowledge that my glass made up half my daily recommended dose of vitamins A,C and E.
For dessert they do ice cream, chocolate fudge cake and two Persian sweets, rollet (£1.79) and napoleni (£2.29). “She’s just finished baking,” said Hardi of the mysterious Mrs Pickle.
My advice is to go for both of them.
The rollet is Persia’s answer to the Swiss roll, the napoleni a very creamy mille feuille, and both cakes were of real quality.
Our bill, with Persian tea, came to £35, a very reasonable price for a pleasant meal.
The Dawes Verdict
312 Abbeydale Road, Sheffield S7 1FN.
Tel: 0114 327 9262.
Open: All week 11.30am-11pm.
Café during the day. BYO. Cash only on my visit, cards planned. Ethnic music. Disabled access and toilet. Street parking.