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Sofreh is a new Persian restaurant on St. Marks Avenue, right off Flatbush, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. It's a little troublesome to write up, because while the food is near destination-quality, the format of the restaurant is very much neighborhood. Meaning, above other things, that the service, while very very sweet, is extremely fallible. So it doesn't seem like a place you should travel to, even though the food, for what it is, is really unmatched anywhere else in the City in my experience.

There are some sort of fancy Persian restaurants in Midtown, but I've never found them very exciting. There are some more hole-in-the-wall type places in neighborhoods like the East Village where, to my mind, the cooking and the raw materials are simply not very good. (There's also a well-regarded tiny place in Chelsea with strange hours and a limited menu that may or may not still be open -- but I've never made it there.)

So it's worth something when a restaurant serving Persian food opens where the food is evidently very well prepared, from decent ingredients.

Persian food, as you may or may not know, features a lot charred or braised preparations, often involving savory fruit sauces. It's very compelling when done as well as this.

Unusually, the main dishes here seem better than the appetizers (not that there's anything seriously wrong with the appetizers). Chicken may seem boring. But this one came with beautifully charred skin, in an equally beautiful plum/saffron sauce -- with these addictive shoestring fried potatoes soaking up that sauce. The braised lamb shank, in an onion/turmeric sauce, was nice: imagine a braised lamb shank seeming kind of light. And while the charred eggplant in a tomato/garlic sauce, with poached eggs and the place's great flatbread, seemed to be overpowered by those others, it was really very good.

Desserts were, I thought, wonderful. They certainly like their roses in Iran.

The cocktail program is excellent, in the restaurant style, the drinks all tweaked to feature Persian flavor accents, wildly successfully (like as good as Indian Accent's cocktails -- which you'd never expect).

So it's a real disappointment -- this is another part of the "neighborhood' thing -- that the wine program kind of sucks. This food would love wine -- but not the very basic selections on this list. The reds are all too fruit-and-oaky: a pity when this food would benefit so from the thinner textures and oddball flavors of today's more fashionable bottles. The only white you'd want to drink is a (concededly good) Alsatian Pinot Noir.

As I hope you can tell, I highly recommend this place. Just go in expecting it to be what it is.

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