The Caspian Express
29 E Court St.
Open only during the work week between 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., this new face on Court Street serves up Iranian fare in an inviting atmosphere. The Caspian Express is geared toward feeding the hungry masses of downtown office workers quickly, and judging by the steady stream of carry-out orders being filled, their delicious homemade wraps and gyros are a big hit.
The menu is small but adequate; there are three starters – hummus (a dip made from chickpeas), must-o-khiar (cucumber yogurt sauce), and shirazi salad (tomatoes, cucumber, onion, lime juice, olive oil and mint) – five sandwiches, two of which are vegetarian – four side dishes and four desserts.
As much as I love falafel sandwiches, I was suitably intrigued by the description of the Kookoo Sabzi sandwich and opted for it instead. The sandwich is described as patties made from shredded vegetables, herbs and eggs, wrapped in homemade pita bread and topped with lettuce and tomato. It is served with a side of must-o-khiar or a shirazi salad.
I’ve never had this sandwich before and it was really nice, but different than I imagined it would be. When I read the word “patties” I was expecting just that – a flat, fried disc of some description – but what I got instead was something akin to a creamed scallion and parsley soufflé wrapped in a pita. It was good, just unlike what I thought it would be based on the description.
My friend ordered a side of hummus to go with his Persian Chicken Salad wrap and was surprised to find out that it doesn’t come with pita bread for dipping. You have to order the bread separately, which when you purchase both ends up costing the same as the hummus starter. It was a little confusing. Other sides to choose from are fries and falafel croquettes, the latter of which are a bargain at .85c each.
We didn’t get to try any of their desserts because by the time we arrived they were sold out, but for future reference they have bakhlava (flaky pastry with layers of nuts, syrup and spices), zoulbia (an Iranian sweet treat consisting of flour, sugar and rosewater shaped like a pretzel), powdered bow-tie cookies and Persian ice cream. I'll try those on the next visit!
I got an email over the weekend from the friend who accompanied me to Caspian Express and he had this to say: "I ate at that Mideastern restaurant on Court St. again today. I won't be going back. There was a bug on the wrapper base of my plastic platter. And the one employee did some serious fumigating of the back room, sending strong chemical odors into the dining room when people were still eating. The chicken kabob wrap I ordered was unkabobed. No more."