We were in Missouri for Valentines Day this year, and our friends who we were staying with told us that D was organising a night out for all of us. He kept the restaurant a secret, and after a day in St Louis we pulled into a side street and headed into a small cafe looking restaurant. Now, G and I have eaten in enough places to know that sometimes the plushest looking restaurants are the ones that can lack service or personality, and some restaurants that don’t look great from the outside, have the greatest food that is cooked from the heart.
I have to say, this place did not have much curb appeal, and inside did feel like a bit like a takeaway fast food joint, with its lino floor and Formica tables, but the welcome from the owner and staff was amazing. we had a slight hiccup with our reservation, D had reserved a table for us through yelp, and the system had messed up, but this was soon resolved and we were seated quickly.
This place is Halal – do not come here if you are expecting to have wine with your food, but also, please don’t let this put you off. Our waitress came over, introduced us to the menu, asked us some questions on the food we liked, and based on our answers, recommended certain dishes.
We started with a dish of mixed Sambosa & Afghan Pakaowra. these disappeared before I could even take a photo. Served with a delicious green chutney, they were just spicy enough to get you used to the Afghan flavour without being over powering.
Main course, based on our servers recommendation was Lamb. We all had Lamb, just cooked in various ways. we had curried Lamb Karahi – a delicious slow cooked chunks of Lamb, cooked with ginger, garlic and tomatoes. We also ordered a Lamb Curry, a Lamb Beriani and a Lamb Shank. All dishes were served with Rice and Bread and came really quickly. I have not had Lamb like this for a long time. It was cooked to perfection. Enough spice to create a heat in the mouth but not overpowering, the meat fell off the bone, was so tender, all conversation around the table stopped as we savoured the flavours of Afghanistan.
One of the owners of the business, Fahime, came and spent some time with us, he was great and working the room, going table to table, engaging the customers in conversation and really making you feel welcome. He saw how much we were enjoying the food and through conversation suddenly told us his brother, the chef, was going to make us a dish of Goat. I’ve had goat a few times, and not really liked it. I have found it rather chewy, and very rich.
This Goat however was butter soft, melting in the mouth and really tasty!! It was a real treat to us.
The sizes of the portions are enormous. Make sure when you go here you don’t over order as you will need to leave some room for the rice pudding which is served traditionally cold. It is light, a great palate cleanser and the rose water within the dish gives it a zingy citrusy burst. I totally recommend finishing your meal with the Rice Pudding and a cup of Chai. A perfect end to a perfect experience.
If you find yourself in St Louis, make sure you book a table at this restaurant. It is for now the only Afghan restaurant in the state, and has been serving this delicious food for 10 years. I highly recommend a visit, and would love to hear your reviews on this restaurant too.
Sameem Afghan Restaurant
4341 Manchester Ave – St Louis – MO 63110
This has not been a paid for advertisement, just my personal views of an amazing restaurant
(Who also deliver and Cater!!)