The Bahrami Family Serves Persian Delights at Café Natasha
The beautiful white-and-blue restaurant with a garden full of string lights that you pass on South Grand is called Café Natasha. The Bahrami family has served Persian delicacies for 36 years, and the restaurant’s menu is a compilation of their best dishes. The bar in the front room, The Gin Room, is filled with the largest collection of the spirit in town.
The restaurant was first established in 1983 by husband-and-wife duo Behshid and Hamishe Bahrami, but it took form as The Little Kitchen, a small cafeteria, Downtown, at the Paul Brown Building. The couple opened the restaurant just a year after their first and only daughter, Natasha, was born. They had no previous experience in the industry but learned to make elaborate Persian dishes with just a convection oven and an electric burner in their small kitchen. From these modest beginnings, the couple expanded the palate of St. Louisans.
In 1993, the couple moved their concept to a storefront in the Delmar Loop and transitioned to Persian fine dining, naming their new restaurant Café Natasha. The Bahrami family drew on memories of traditional Persian dishes of their childhood and served housemade kabobs and traditional Persian khoresht stews. The team complimented each other, as Hamishe ran the front of house and Behshid devoted himself to the kitchen.
In 2001, Natasha took over Café Natasha while the Behramis opened their third location, Kabob International on South Grand. After 35 years, Café Natasha is still family run and sits on the corner of South Grand Boulevard and Wyoming Street
For appetizers, choose from the list of house-made dips such as walnut-olive-feta cheese spread, dilled yogurt cucumber sauce, tart pomegranate eggplant and baba ghannouj. For lunch, guests can create their own salad, rice platter (including pilar) or pita sandwich with house-made yogurt dressing. Shawarmas, tandoori kabobs, gyros, falafel and combination plates fill the page. The dinner menu offers a number of slow roasted, spiced meats and stews over dill, basmati and saffron rice and shish kabobs with spiced sauces.
Natasha the “Gin Girl” turned the restaurant’s front room into Natasha’s Gin Room six years ago, and rows of beautiful bottles line the wall behind the bar. Natasha has a passion for the spirit (which grew out of her love for a good dirty martini) and often offers educational cocktail classes and events dubbed Ginworld. In 2017, she was even inducted into The Gin Guild, a global group of gin historians and enthusiasts who judge gin competitions around the world.
The bar holds more than 200 gins and 100 amaros, vermouth and bitters. The menu is divided by the flavor profile of each gin and also offers a variety of cocktails and other spirits. Guests can sip their cocktails outside in the vine garden created by Hamishe and enjoy the beautiful dishes of Persia that the Bahrami family has provided St. Louis for decades.
Images courtesy of Cafe Natasha.