Lala Rokh turns 20 this year, and the Persian restaurant is celebrating the big anniversary with a complete remodel and a new menu, both debuting on February 9 at 3 p.m. (It has been closed since just after new year's to accommodate the changes.) The restaurant is owned by brother-and-sister team Babak Bina and Azita Bina-Seibel, who is also the executive chef. They draw inspiration from their mother, Aghdas, a native of Azerbaijan who still takes the reins on importing the right herbs and spices for the restaurant. The Binas are also behind jm Curley (and its inner steakhouse, Bogie's Place), Merrill & Co., Bin 26 Enoteca, and eventually a farm.
The historical Beacon Hill space was previously home to Another Season from 1982 to 1994, Au Beauchamp from 1940 to 1982, and Boston Bean from 1920 to 1939. Now, after two decades as Lala Rokh, it's being updated with a wrap-around, granite-top dining counter and other new details, from white leather banquettes to oak tables. The remodel is aimed at creating a more airy, open space. Art lovers can rest assured that the Binas will continue to show a rotating selection of Persian art from many eras. At the reopening, they'll debut new additions to their collection, some contemporary Iranian photography.
When Lala Rokh had been open for about seven years, Corby Kummer gushingly reviewed it for Boston Magazine, finding the cuisine both new and familiar.
"Anyone can delve right into the menu, with or without advance preparation. What at first reading seems intimidatingly complex proves, on tasting, to be more familiar than exotic. There are unusual Oriental tastes, yes: dried Persian lime, ground to a powder; air-dried Iranian rose petals, delicate and distinctive; fenugreek, one of the usually anonymous components of curry that is quite pronounced on its own; barberry, a tart, dry-tasting berry akin to the cranberry but subtler."
As for the food going forward, it'll extend into areas untouched by the old menu, like the Persian Gulf and other regions of Iran. There's also a new bar menu, lots of new seafood, a selection of small "mazze" dishes for snacking, caviar service, and a menu section of "lamb innard," like brain fritters with lime and hot sauce. The slow-cooked Azerbaijani specialties that you remember from the old Lala Rokh will remain on a "classics" section of the menu. On the beverage side, wine continues to rule, but diners will also see the edition of "Persian-inspired" cocktails with ingredients like rosewater and pomegranate.
The new Lala Rokh will serve a mazze menu from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night, with lunch being added in the future.
Here's a look at the new menu.