It’s always nice to see more diverse ethnic restaurants opening in Las Vegas. So I was excited when I heard about Caspian Persian Cuisine & Bakery, a westside spot that opened a few months ago. I’ve only come across a handful of Persian restaurants in the Valley—particularly the excellent Zaytoon on Durango Drive—but I’ve enjoyed them all. Unfortunately, that winning streak ended with this new spot, because of sloppy service and food that was hit-and-miss at best.
Caspian is a large dining room that appears to seat about 100 or so, with a small stage in one corner. With its understated décor, it feels more like a banquet hall than a restaurant. When my wife and I walked through the door on a recent weeknight, we were the only customers, which probably should have served as a warning. Nonetheless, we ordered a few familiar dishes and experimented with some that we’d never tried before.
Our first appetizer, a yogurt dip with cucumber, mint, raisins and walnuts, was actually quite tasty, as was the freshly baked sangak bread that accompanied it. But a shirazi salad of diced tomato, onions, cucumber and mint was pretty boring.
The real disaster, however, was my entrée. Tahdig is a rice dish that’s crispy from cooking on the bottom of the pot. At Caspian, it’s offered with your choice of four different stewed dishes. I’ve had it at other restaurants and loved it. Unfortunately, what I got here was basically inedible. The rice was not only as hard as a rock, but was inconsistently cooked. Parts were completely white, while other sections were black as ash—which is also what it tasted like. And the ghormeh sabzi, listed as a stew of herbs, beef, kidney beans and limes, that accompanied it was almost completely devoid of meat, and pretty lacking in flavor. Fortunately, a ground chicken kabob was mildly seasoned, and proved to be the high point of the meal.
Despite the fact that only two other people ventured into the restaurant during our visit, we were all but ignored by our waiter. That was made more annoying because he and the chef were sitting at a table across the room from us chatting through most of our meal, and he basically refused to even glance in our direction to see if we needed anything. When he finally brought the check, I had to point out that he’d forgotten to charge us for our ciders. (Yeah, I’m honest that way, even in the face of lousy service.) Given the overall lack of attention, I was kind of perplexed when he presented us with a device used to make kabobs as a parting gift. I doubt I’ll ever use it, but it’s always nice to get a present.
I generally like to give a restaurant a second chance before giving it a bad review. But after our first experience, my wife and I weren’t terribly eager to sit through another meal at Caspian. So we compromised and ordered takeout. This time around we had a pair of decent beef dishes: ground beef kabobs and a tenderloin dish called barg. While neither was in any way exceptional, we enjoyed both of them. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the ground beef, green bean and rice dish loubia polo, which was incredibly bland.
If Caspian were the only Persian restaurant in town, I’d still be hesitant to return. But given the better options, I don’t see a third visit in my future.
Caspian Persian Cuisine & Bakery
6370 W. Flamingo Rd., 702-227-7426. Open for lunch and dinner daily. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Dinner for two, $25-$50.