Bar none, this was my favorite dining experience in Iasi. Nelu kindly took me on a night-time driving tour of the town, which ended here. I’d been looking for an authentic Romanian restaurant to try ever since I arrived on my first trip to Iasi back in November 2006. I am so glad he showed me this restaurant.
Nelu told me that Romanians like their food sour, and he was not kidding. We had crusty, crunchy bread on which we spread olive paste and red pepper paste, and an appetizer of dill pickles dusted with paprika. I tried a Romanian beer brewed in Iasi that is quickly getting famous. It was very good.
For the main course, I had mutton with polenta and sheep’s cheese. It was excellent. The sheep’s cheese adds a great tangy flavor to the polenta and also compliments the flavors of the mutton.
I recommend this place to anyone visiting Iasi looking for authentic Romanian cuisine. It’s so hard to find traditional places like these among all the pizza/Italian restaurants!
We took Carolyn and Max here on advice from an Iranian colleague of mine in Regensburg (she’s from Troy). She said it would blow La Shish outta the water. I have to disagree. It was good, but it couldn’t topple La Shish down off of the pedestal upon which I have placed it.
We got the Falafel platter for starters and had high hopes after that — it was great. They weren’t shy about the garlic in the dipping sauce, and the pickled beets were a little more…I don’t know “real” looking and tasting than the typical “hi-liters” you get at La Shish. I liked ’em. The bread that came with the meal was good; there were chewy pitas and crispy…um, also pitas, I think, to choose from. I guess I would have preferred the still-warm freshly-baked rolls typical of La Shish, but these were still fine. Even better would have been a creamy garlic paste in which to dunk the bread, but no such luck.
Max (also a connoisseur of Middle Eastern fare) and I thought it fair and balanced to throw Grape Leaves a slow pitch for their first at-bat with us. We both ordered Shawarma with Hummous (he got the chicken, I got the lamb), so there could be an even basis for comparison with La Shish (my fave) and other Middle Eastern restaurants he’s familiar with. I can’t speak for his chicken (imagine though, if I could!), but I thought my lamb was a little on the dry side.
Judgement: pretty good, but La Shish (at least the one in Troy, whose ambience factors in) has got nothing to worry about. Grape Leaves is good (thanks for the recommendation, Mariam), but if I’m in Troy, I’ll go to La Shish next time.
I’m still looking for a contender; Carolyn says she and Max know places in Dearborn even better than La Shish. I say, “show me!”