432 W. Ontario, Chicago,
5255 N. Clark, Chicago,
40 N. Tower Rd., Oak Brook,
Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight, seven days a week
Prices: dinnertime entrées: $14.95-$21.95; family style, $24.95-$29.95 per person
We were enjoying our delicious Mediterranean dinner at Reza’s so much the other day that we almost forgot to acknowledge we were also eating quite healthfully. Smart eating is easy when you go for Mediterranean fare. The cuisine is, by design, relatively low-fat but high in good nutrition. Reza’s offers the kind of dining experience that lends itself to regular enjoyment. It’s not expensive, there are leftovers to bring home and, if you’ve been at all conscious of your portion size, you won’t feel bloated or tired afterward. You can also enjoy a generous lunch buffet on weekdays.
These facts are, of course, nothing new to Reza’s large cadre of regular customers. With three locations, Reza’s is an accessible and attractive neighborhood spot in which to enjoy a wide-ranging menu that features many vegetarian dishes in addition to the lamb, beef, poultry and seafood.
Reza’s mission is not grandiose, and they don’t offer cutting edge interpretations of Mediterranean fare. Rather, the restaurants focus on quality and freshness, offering well-prepared renditions of traditional items that are pleasing to a diverse range of diners. Those who enjoy ethnic food adventure as well as those who prefer to stay with the basics will find much to enjoy here. The emphasis on healthy eating is stated on the menu: no artificial ingredients, additives or MSG are used.
The lunch and dinner menus are similar although there are more dinnertime choices, including family style dining. The salads are straightforward; nothing fancy. The signature salad is the Fattoush, with Romaine lettuce, scallion, cucumber, parsley, green pepper, radish, mint, toasted pita mixed with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
The meal gets more interesting with the appetizers. Signature starters include Herbed Roasted Feta Cheese, topped with roasted red pepper, black olives and tomatoes, finished with olive oil; Dolmeh Felfel, a sweet green pepper, stuffed with choice of spinach or mushrooms, with cheese, in a delicately spiced Persian tomato sauce, then baked; Vegetarian Shami, patties of minced green vegetables, coated with chickpeas and delicately sautéed, served in a sweet and sour pomegranate sauce with finely crushed walnuts, and Kashkeh Bodemjan, a medley of eggplant, curds and whey, flavored with garlic and mint, served with pita bread. The Grilled Mushrooms and Grilled Potatoes are appetizers that also work well as side dishes.
Reza’s offers a selection of five lunchtime vegetarian combos; At dinnertime, the vegetarian combos are similar, but there are some additional choices. All are served with fresh Persian bread, soup and a choice of dill or white rice (choose the dill), couscous, grilled potatoes or Persian salad. Veggie combo I features Hummus, Tabbouli, and Baba Ghannouj. Combo II offers Vegetarian Dolmeh, Vegetarian Shami and Kashkeh Bodemjan; Combo III includes Cous-Cous, Reza’s vegetarian appetizer and steamed string beans; Combo IV features eggplant steak, hummus and couscous. Combo V presents Stuffed Green Pepper with spinach or mushroom stuffing, Reza’s vegetarian appetizer and falafel.
If you’re in the mood for a wrap, choose for the kabob-based Koubideh (seasoned minced beef), Chicken Koubideh, Chicken Breast, Seasoned Ground Chicken, Lamb or Filet Mignon. If you’d prefer a vegetarian wrap, you can order Falafel, Portabella or Eggplant.
Moving on to entrées, fish and seafood lovers have many choices; all dishes are served with the same accoutrements as the veggie combos. Choices include Broiled Filet of Salmon, Broiled Lake Superior White Fish, White Fish Persian style (breaded and sautéed in olive oil), and Shrimp or Scallops (either choice is garlic marinated). A special dinnertime-only entrée is the Chilean Sea Bass Kabob (charbroiled seasoned chunks of Sea Bass).
If you’re in a mood for meats or poultry, you will easily find something to fit the mood. Choices include Filet Mignon (charbroiled with grilled mushrooms in a mushroom sauce), Lamb Chops (two double-cut broiled baby spring lamb chops) or Lamb Loin Chops (three broiled loin chops), and Koubideh (seasoned minced beef kabob). The Lamb Shank is simmered in home made tomato-based sauce. Two interesting dinnertime-only entrees are the Fessenjan, boneless chicken breast simmered in a sweet and sour pomegranate sauce, and the Ghamieh Bodemjan, beef and yellow split peas simmered in a tomato sauce.
Kabobs arrive right from the broiler. Choose the Lamb Kabob (charbroiled lamb loin on a skewer, served with grilled vegetables), the Chengeh (Filet Mignon shish kabob) served with a grilled tomato, Boneless Chicken (marinated boneless chicken breast, charbroiled with grilled vegetables, the Chicken Koubideh (charbroiled seasoned ground chicken kabob with Persian seasonings) or the Quail Kabob (marinated and charbroiled, served with grilled getables).
The family-style dinners are offered as five-course feasts, offered on a per-person pricing. Choose from three appetizers and three entrees. These are also excellent for carry-out.
In addition to the tasty Baklava and Bamieh, there are American-style desserts such as rich Double Chocolate Cake, White Chocolate Mousse Cake, Carrot Cake and Raspberry Cheese Cake. Don’t forget to enjoy the aromatic Persian coffee or tea.
Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. For more information, please call (312) 651-9000 or stay in the know by visiting their blog at www.gotbuzzatkurman.com. For more DineWise features, subscribe to http://dinewisechicago.blogspot.com and follow us on Twitter @dinewise.