Lunch date #57, May 30, 2014
Mom got her adventure spirit back! We elected to try Lotus: Authentic Persian Cuisine (1991 Santa Rita Rd) in the Mission Plaza (long time ago location of Swenson's). I was excited that she was willing to go so out-of-her-box and try Persian food…a far cry from burgers or Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches! Lotus is an official halal restaurant, serving food that is permissible under Islamic Law.
Location 3.5 points: Trying for consistency here-same score as other places at the Mission Plaza. This one faces Santa Rita, so is maybe just a bit more appealing from the street view.
Ambiance 3.5 points: They have certainly done a lot to change the "look" since the prior businesses in this location. The most striking improvement is the ceiling fixture of blown glass-quite impressive. They also opened up one side to a patio for outside dining and the tables were nicely adorned with linen. Unfortunately at 1pm on a Friday, we were the only customers in the place, so it seemed rather lonely…and guys were walking back and forth through the dining room bringing in laundered linens and boxes—rather tacky.
|Ceiling blown-glass light fixture|
Menu 3 points: Obviously very hard for us to evaluate, not knowing anything about the cuisine. We asked our server for suggestions, but she wasn't all that helpful. Our biggest complaint: there is not a lunch menu and most of the choices were dinner-entrée style in price. There is a section of "House Specialty" items, so I chose one from that list-not having any idea what I'd be getting-and went with Ghormeh Sabzi. This was a dish of braised beef in a sauce of greens and kidney beans. I encouraged Mom to go with a kabob dish, figuring that would have a better chance of success with her. They don't serve coffee, so Mom went with water. I asked if the iced-tea was brewed, but not so sure the server understand my meaning.
Food 2 points: The Ghormeh Sabzi was basically green-slop in a bowl that you spoon over rice. There were a few pieces of beef in a sauce that didn't have much flavor. I would pass on this one in the future. Mom's kabob dish was better. She got the combo with both beef and chicken, and though both were fairly dry, they had good flavor. Both our dishes were served with a large portion of jasmine rice, topped with saffron-infused rice…but although pretty, that lacked flavor also. The large portion size for the kabob combo was a bonus for Mom.
Service 2 points: Really not much service. The iced-tea was not to my liking (not sure if brewed with a Persian tea or an instant mix), and when I mentioned to the server that I didn't care for it and wanted water, she just smiled. Perhaps a language barrier? Not sure. After she brought out our dishes, she disappeared into the back and we didn't see her again. When we were about to leave and a new party of diners walked in, they had to wait quite a while to be recognized.
Value 2.5 points: Relatively high price for lunch. Mine was $14 (and not so great). Mom's kabob dish at $13 was a bit better, and she did take home the left-overs…but the overall dining experience was not in the realm to off-set the prices. The lack luster service, perhaps coupled with the deserted restaurant did not make for a pleasing atmosphere.
Overall score for Lotus: 2.75 points. Not our favorite by far, and doubt I would go out of my way to return. Perhaps they will find their niche with those that require halal-cuisine, but we weren't all that impressed. Still, if you haven't had Persian food-it might be worth it to try some of the other menu items….and at very least, have an adventure!