Bridgeton has a new destination for Persian cuisine. Esther’s Persian Cafe debuted in May, serving traditional Middle Eastern comfort food such as flame-grilled kabobs cooked in an open kitchen.

The concept comes from first-time restaurant owner Reza Toghiyany, who named the business after his daughter, Esther Spurgeon. The Iran native came to St. Louis in 1979 and has dabbled in many industries including cooking at seafood restaurants, working with rental properties, selling cars and refurbishing propane tanks. All the while, cooking was a regular pastime.

“My grandfather was a professional chef, and my sister is a professional chef who has published a few books. Food is our passion in my family. It’s something I love,” Toghiyany says. “I always cooked for friends and family at parties and invited people to enjoy good food in the park if I didn’t have room in my house.”

Esther and her husband, Jake, a designer for Mosby Building Arts, helped configure the space for Toghiyany to continue honing his culinary skulls. The dining area has around 45 seats, with a blue and gray color scheme.

From the menu, choose from appetizers such as kookoo sabzi, a Persian herb frittata made with ingredients including eggs, fresh parsley and turmeric. Another highlight is tahdig, a layer of crispy rice served with your choice of Persian beef stew: ghormeh sabzi or gheymeh.

“I love introducing the thousands of years of Persian food history to people,” Toghiyany says. “I believe it’s healthy food that tastes good. It takes a little time to make. It’s not fast food. I’m cooking it fresh.”

Salads include shirazi salad with a mixture of cucumber, tomato, onion and lime juice as well as a beet salad with spring mix, beets, Feta and walnuts. Sandwich options include the aforementioned kookoo sabzi, a Persian cutlet and beef tongue, each served with grilled potatoes, pickles, tomato and onion.

Marinated, flame-grilled kabobs are a house specialty, served with basmati rice, grilled tomatoes and bread. Options include beef koobideh kabobs (seasoned ground beef), filet mignon kabobs and chicken kabobs. The beef soltani kabob is Toghiyany’s personal go-to, featuring one filet and one beef koobideh kabob.

Additional authentic dishes include fesenjan, a Persian chicken stew flavored with walnuts and pomegranate sauce, served with basmati rice. To drink, choose from fountain sodas, tea, Turkish coffee and doogh, a salty, mint-infused yogurt drink.

Esther's Persian Cafe is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 2pm as well as 5 to 9pm.

Esther's Persian Cafe, 12466 St. Charles Rock Road, Bridgeton, Missouri, 314.755.1882, facebook.com/estherspersiancafe

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