Sunday, March 25, 2007

Fun with Anna

Last month I met Anna for the first time at La Dolce V in Sebastopol. This month we met in San Rafael, in Marin County, at Hatam Restaurant and Deli.

If you've missed checking out Anna's site, Anna's Cool Finds lately, you may not realize that she is the queen of blogged restaurant reviews for Marin County. Despite being a busy businesswoman, she finds the time to visit a wide variety of restaurants, often with her Dad as her dining companion. Many times the reviews are are for ethnic and inexpensive places, always with mouth watering photos. If you live nearby or just want to experience interesting restaurants virtually, check it out. I had fun today watching her photograph the food and enjoyed sharing the experience. Can't wait to see her review.

Today for lunch we visited Hatam's, which is a Persian restaurant in the back of a deli. The food for sale in the front of the store is so enthralling...

that it might take a few minutes to make your way to the restaurant, but when you do you'll find an intimate space with lovely chandeliers, cloth napkins and comfortable chairs. The menu has a wonderful assortment of salads, soups and appetizers to start with including the Persian version of dolmas, spiced rice wrapped in grape leaves; a lovely herb soufle called Koo-Koo which Anna had; and a refreshing tomato, onion and cucumber salad which is what I started with. Once we ordered, we were served some of the fresh feta we had seen in the deli, served with a pile of fresh mint, basket of lavosh bread and some butter. The tangy cheese and mint complemented the less assertive flatbread.

For our main dishes, Anna chose a combination plate with two kinds of kebobs, rice and a grilled tomato. I tasted the chicken kebob. The meat was moist and juicy and the spices were distinct but subtle. One of the pleasures of eating at a restaurant like this is that the spices are not one dimensional, but are a combination of many flavors authentic to the cuisine.

I had a dish that Anna said is usually made for special occasions called Fesenjoon. Lamb chunks are marinated and served in a sauce made with pomegranete juice and ground walnuts. It was tender, with a great depth of flavor, again with authentic spices making their presence known in a wonderful way. It was served on a bed of saffron rice and the saltiness of the rice went well with the slight sweetness of the fesenjoon. The gentleman who served the food, who is also apparently the owner and chef, said that everything is made from scratch and that is how it tastes. Next time I want to go with a few more people so that we can try other items on the menu and I can have tastes. Everything I tried this time was delicious.

For dessert we were served an array of Persian marzipan candies shaped like strawberries. You could taste the almonds, but there was also the floral flavor of rose water that added a nice contrast to the nuts and sugar flavors. There were also a few puff pastry palmiers which went well with the cardemom tea.

If you get a chance, do visit this delightful little restaurant. You won't be disappointed if you are looking for the finest Persian cuisine.

Hatams Restaurant & Deli
821 B Street, San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 454-8888
lunch, dinner & catering


  1. This all looks wonderful, especially the little fruits! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Look delightful! On our way to the Santa Barbara airport from my Dad's in Morro Bay we stopped at a Deli/Market and it was something like Hatam's.

  3. This PhD thing is really getting in the way of my blogging! I finally finished the post of our adventure, complete with a slide show intro. Loved your post as well! Looking forward to May in West Marin.

  4. Oh, that place! I have GOT to go in there for a meal. We just shop the front of the store for feta and yogurt and good stuff. Thanks for such a loving description.

  5. freya, the little fruits are too cute and sweet, too.

    tanna, these kinds of deli's are such a nice surprise to find.

    anna, your slide show ROCKS.

    cookiecrumb, the meal was really good. I also spent a lot at the front for things to take home. Tried the pomegranet vianagrette (can't spell!) on salad tonight & it was delightful.