Does expensive always mean delicious? A review of Arya Steakhouse

Arya+Steakhouse+opened+on+Aug.+9+in+downtown+Palo+Alto.+The+chef+prepares+a+wide+variety+of+food+ranging+from+more+traditional+dishes+like+Sambosa%2C+an+appetizer+with+a++crunch+pastry+shell+and+potato+filling%2C+to+burgers+and+steaks.+%28Photo%3A+Maxwell+Zhang%29

Arya Steakhouse opened on Aug. 9 in downtown Palo Alto. The chef prepares a wide variety of food ranging from more traditional dishes like Sambosa, an appetizer with a crunch pastry shell and potato filling, to burgers and steaks. (Photo: Maxwell Zhang)

Maxwell Zhang and Ketan Altekar-Okazaki

Arya Steakhouse opened on Aug. 9 in downtown Palo Alto. The chef prepares a wide variety of food ranging from more traditional dishes like Sambosa, an appetizer with a crunch pastry shell and potato filling, to burgers and steaks. (Photo: Maxwell Zhang)

Those looking for an elegant Persian steakhouse are in for a treat, as Arya Steakhouse has officially opened in downtown Palo Alto.

Executive chef and owner Mike Hashemi unveiled Arya Steakhouse’s third location on Aug. 9 after opening restaurants in Cupertino and in Redwood City. The steakhouse revolves around Persian culture and history. Since the grand opening, the restaurant has been bustling, with wait times being anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes from Sunday to Thursday and around 90 minutes on Friday and Saturday, according to the restaurant staff. 

The restaurant’s dimly lit space is themed around antique architecture, including stone pillars and wooden furniture with overhead lights and fake candles at each table. The overall atmosphere is soothing even though the restaurant is filled with chatter. 

Hashemi designed the menu based on traditional Persian cuisine.

“We have very traditional dishes like ‘Fesenjoon,’ which is pomegranate walnut stew with chicken,” Hashemi told The Paly Voice last month when we stopped to explore the new space. “It is a very earthy and fresh dish.”

Two reporters from the Voice sat down and tried five dishes: sambosa, steak tartare, Arya Burger, braised lamb shank, and creamy gnocchi. This is what we found:

Sambosa — puff pastry filled with fresh herbs, and potatoes (Photo: Ketan Altekar-Okazaki)

Sambosa –$14

The first appetizer was the sambosa, which is an authentic middle eastern fried pastry with a potato and herb filling on the inside. On the side was a creamy, beige sauce with a sour lemon taste. 

The outside of the sambosa was a crispy bundle of flavor that hold the filling, mashed golden-yellow potatoes with fresh green herbs. When we bit into the sambosa, the oily shell broke, and the smooth filling melted in our mouths. The dish was plated with some lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese on the side. Overall, the sambosa was a nice appetizer, and the lightning-fast service speed made it even better. 

Steak Tartare – $23

Steak Tartare — minced filet mignon, capers, onion, pomegranate glaze, crostini, egg (Photo: Ketan Altekar-Okazaki)

Another appetizer we ordered was the steak tartare, comprised of raw minced filet mignon, capers, onion, and three pieces of crispy, golden-brown cheese bread. The tartare had a smooth texture and a savory taste, which was complemented by a little sweetness from the egg yolk and a strong cheese flavor from the bread. 

There was an overall calming sensation when eating the tartare. When the tartare was eaten with the cheese bread, it made for an incredible blend of flavors. 

The presentation was beautiful, consisting of a bowl-shaped serving of glistening steak tartare drizzled in a dark pomegranate sauce. The tartare is also perfect for sharing due to its large serving and is a perfect dish for multiple people to enjoy.

Arya Burger — pesto mayo, frisee, caramelized onion, cheddar, fries (Photo: Ketan Altekar-Okazaki)

Arya Burger – $24

The first entrée we tried was the Arya Burger, which was served with a side of fries. The half-pound burger patty was cooked to the perfect medium rare; the patty was dark brown with grill lines on the outside and a juicy pink color on the inside. The burger and fries were plated nicely with a dollop of creamy red ketchup on the side. According to the menu, there was pesto sauce on the burger, although we couldn’t taste any. 

The burger also contained a fair amount of frisee, tomato, and grilled onions. Although the frisee was too bitter for our liking, its crunch complemented the softness of the patty and the buns. The grilled onions were sweet at first but left a charred aftertaste. All in all, the burger was a nice meal to appreciate for a single person.

Braised Lamb Shank – $29

Braised Lamb Shank — Baghali Polo: dill weed, lima beans, basmati rice (Photo: Ketan Altekar-Okazaki)

The next entrée was the braised lamb shank, served with baghali polo, an Iranian rice dish of rice, fava beans and dill. The dish contained a large lamb shank cooked so the meat fell right off the bone, and the texture was smooth and soft. 

At times the lamb was too salty, especially the lamb broth. It tasted like one of the most flavorful lamb shanks we had ever had. However, the baghali polo tasted like bitter coconut water with the texture of rice, which is an acquired taste.

Creamy Gnocchi — potato gnocchi, cream sauce (Photo: Ketan Altekar-Okazaki)

Gnocchi $24

The last to arrive and the lowest point of the meal was the creamy gnocchi, comprised of potato gnocchi and cream sauce. Although the high price brought up our expectations, the dish was plain and not worth the cost.

Even though the gnocchi had a smooth and soft texture and a subtle bacon flavor in the cream, the fact that it tasted like fancy mac & cheese was not enough to justify the $24 spent. On the plus side, the serving size of the gnocchi was perfect for sharing.

We had a great experience at Arya Steakhouse. The excellent service combined with the overall pleasant taste sets a high standard for the future of the steakhouse. 

Arya Steakhouse:

140 University Ave. Palo Alto CA, 94301

650-394-3119

aryasteakhouse.com

Price:

$$$ (Expensive)

Open:

11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 5 – 10 p.m. on Monday-Friday

11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Saturday-Sunday

Reservations:

Accepted