Calle San Bernadino 1
Tel.: +34 915 596 812
Overall rating: 7/10
Date of visit: May 2013
Esfahan might not be the most obvious place to go if you’re looking for a place to eat in Madrid, as they serve traditional Persian food, but it’s well worth searching out. My wife at the time is from Iran so she wanted to go here.
The restaurant is decorated like a typical Persian restaurant with carpets on the wall as well as pictures of places in Iran and typical Persian art.
For drinks we had a coke (€2.53), a bottle of water (€2.53) and a yoghurt drink with herbs (€2.42).
First we started out with some flatbread (€2.20) and yoghurt dip (€6.05). This was of course pleasant, but €6 for yoghurt seemed a bit excessive.
For main course I had lamb kebab (€14.30), which is not the Turkish döner kebab, but meat grilled on a sword. The meat was lovely cooked. It was very tender and charred just enough to not have the wood taste overpower the meat itself. Underneath it was a bit of grated carrot, radicchio and lettuce as well as two grilled tomato halves on the side. I didn’t care much for these, but everywhere I have eaten in Iran this has been what meat dishes have been served with unless you order a vegetable dish.
My wife at the time had the dish gorme sabzi (€13.20), which is slowly cooked lamb shank in a green herb sauce with beans. I tried the lamb, which was very, very tender.
I had “sweet rice”, which meant cooked with orange zest, pistachios and a bit of cardamom (€6.60). This was very pleasant and might have been better than some of the same rice I have had in Iran. We had intended to share this, but the restaurant gave my wife at the time plain rice with a bit of saffron free of charge.
My wife at the time asked for an infusion afterwards, and they gave this to both of us free of charge along with some sweets – one was deep-fried batter made with yoghurt, and another was a cake made with pistachios and rose water. I had some stomach problems at the time and wasn’t allowed to eat sweets so I only had one bite of each, so I can’t say much. Rose water is something that I have to have in very tiny amounts before it turns into soap for me, but it seems to be something they love in Iran.
The bill came to €49.83 in total, meaning €24.92 per person including drinks. I’m not familiar with the general price level in Madrid, but I would believe that Madrid is more expensive than Valencia. The places in Valencia where you can eat for €10-€15 also seem to be severely worse quality than this (it would be just patatas bravas, tortilla, etc.). My lunch at Samsha in Valencia for the same price was definitely better than the one at Esfahan, but I would be hard pressed to find dinner anywhere in Valencia with a meal as good as the one at Esfahan for €25. And with both free rice, infusion and sweets I can only say that this restaurant offered great value compared to the prices we saw in the menu (and then the price for the yoghurt was quickly forgotten). I can’t say if we were offered special treatment because my wife at the time was Iranian.
The food here was typical Persian, which also meant that it wasn’t any different than anything I’ve had in Iran. They offered exactly the same dishes, but then the restaurant didn’t promise anything else. That also means that the food suffered from the same problems (no vegetables except for grated carrot and lettuce as accompaniments, just meat and rice) but also the same strengths (excellent grilling and lovely rice). So, the only real criticism I can give is the limitations of traditional Persian cuisine itself, ’cause the technique and flavours on display here were were well worth it.