Armenian Eatery Courts Worcester Lawyers, Judges

Noah Schaffer

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, MA
Aug 8 2007

259 Park Ave.
(508) 767-1639
Lunch, Monday through Saturday

I ask a Worcester attorney to recommend a restaurant that his downtown
colleagues might patronize at lunchtime. When he directs me toward
Shiraz, an Armenian eatery, I am a bit surprised. After all, the
restaurant is nearly a mile and a half from the old (albeit soon to
be demolished) Worcester courthouse complex and is definitely not
within easy walking distance by car-crazy Worcester standards.

Also, there’s a Middle Eastern restaurant that serves nearly identical
fare right by the courthouse on Highland Street, making Shiraz seem
anything but convenient to courthouse regulars.

But sure enough, the lively luncheon crowd at Shiraz includes an
entire table of Probate & Family Court judges, one of the attorneys
in our party tells us. Nearby are two public safety officials, we
are told. Behind them, says another fellow diner, members of the
history department of Worcester State College are rubbing shoulders
with blue-collar workers.

We suspect that these patrons are at Shiraz more for its food
than for its anything-but-elegant decor. Each of the several dozen
place settings is set with a paper placemat, which is covered with
advertisements from local businesses that inform visitors they are
being served by the Kochian family.

Our waitress quickly takes our orders and promises us the soup that
comes with each luncheon special would be served shortly.

Unfortunately, the wait is seemingly interminable for what should be
the easiest course of the meal to deliver.

When the lentil soup finally arrives, it proves to be worth the wait.

Each bowl is loaded down with hearty lentils and flavored with a
spritz of lemon.

After observing several other patrons enjoying basketfuls of pita
bread along with their soup, we ask for the same and, again, endure
an unnecessarily lengthy wait for a restaurant staple that should
not have been overlooked in the first place.

Still, the tasty soup and bread are helping us forget the service
hiccups. Provided by a nearby bakery, the pita is chewier and much
fresher than one normally finds when that sort of bread is served.

Thankfully, the entrees soon follow. One attorney has ordered a Greek
salad with chicken ($7.25), which he praises as being flavorful and
fresh. Another lawyer has a wrap that combines grape leaves with
hummus ($6.50); he likes the tangy lemon taste that the hummus adds
to the sandwich.

Another member of our party has no complaints about a wrap that mixes
chicken with tabouleh ($6.50), a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine,
and also includes bulgur, parsley, mint, herbs and lemon juice.

A fattoush salad with tuna ($6) containing fresh mint, olive oil,
lemon juice and toasted pita chips can only be described as heavenly;
it is topped with a generous scoop of tuna salad. It was among the
most refreshing salads this writer has sampled.

After we complete our entrees, we determine that dessert is out of
the question. A few in our party have to return to the courthouse
for afternoon sessions, their lunch "hour" having been extended by
the service glitches at Shiraz.

Although not for those in a hurry or for those seeking to dazzle
clients with the trappings of an upscale restaurant, Shiraz proves
itself well worth the trek up the street for those seeking a hearty,
healthy lunch.