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Friday, July 25, 2014

Anar, in SoMa, Might Mend Persian-San Franciscan Relations

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge anarnaanpaneersabzi.jpg
Iranian-American diplomatic relations might be at an all-time low (which is really saying something). But Persian-San Franciscan dining experiences just took a big step towards rapprochement now that Anar — Farsi for “pomegranate” — is open in central SoMa. As with the somewhat similar Lebanese restaurant Mazza Luna on Van Ness, it’s a slightly rarefied atmosphere on an unlovely block, serving high-quality food at affordable prices. In other words, do pop in.

See Also: Pretty Much Everything about Lebanese Joint Mazza Luna is Amazing
Overall, there is a bountiful decadence to the food, such that even naan panir sabzi (a simple basket of fresh herbs, feta and bread) feels slightly royal. The eggplant in the mirza ghasemi was beautifully smoked, but it was the heavily seasoned fesenjan (chicken with walnuts and pomegranate sauce, served with sweetened rice) that stood out the most — and it can be prepared vegetarian as well. Entrees are otherwise fairly lamb-heavy, desserts veer towards rice pudding and there is no alcohol.

If you have any experience with Persian cuisine, you know that the crisp buttery rice at the bottom of the pan is a coveted treat, something a doting grandmother might secretly bestow on her favorite. It’s not specifically on the menu but after inquiring, we got some “as a gift.” But if you’re not coming for dinner, think about dropping by for afternoon tea. (There will be rosewater.)
click to enlarge Mirz ghasemi (eggplant with tomato, garlic and seasonings). - PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane
  • Mirz ghasemi (eggplant with tomato, garlic and seasonings).
click to enlarge Anar from the inside. - PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane
  • Anar from the inside.
click to enlarge Anar from the outside. - PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane
  • Anar from the outside.
Anar’s is a fairly conservative interior, with cork menus, sensibly arranged tables, water served in a blue glass vessel that’s presented on a tray, a triptych on one wall and more than one decorative pomegranate. The service is punctilious, and charmingly enthusiastic. (Upon walking out, I was warmly told, “Nice to meet you!”). Yeah, Harrison Street between Fifth and Sixth is pretty dreadful, but it’s going to be a long time before anything can brighten it up better than this.

Anar Restaurant, 937A Harrison, 543-2627.

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Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40


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