My husband and I recently (March 2009) ate at Shamshiri Grill in Westwood. First, the atmosphere is warm and inviting. The place was packed and there was a 15 minute wait to get seated (this on a Saturday around 9 PM), but the food was worth the wait.
We were served a complimentary appetizer of fresh-baked pita bread with fresh mint leaves, onions and radishes. Delicious. Then we ordered the appetizer combination platter. It normally comes with hummus, baba ganoush (roasted eggplant mashed with tahini), falafel, tahini sauce, dolmeh (grape leaves stuffed with rice, lentils and herbs -- our waitress assured us these are vegan although they are not marked as such), and a yogurt dip called mast o'khiar. Since we are vegan we asked for the yogurt dip to be substituted with tabouli (bulgur, parsley, mint, tomato and cucumber salad). Our waitress was wonderful and the owner was completely accomodating of this request. The standouts were the baba ganoush and the tabouli, but all the appetizers were quite tasty and the quantities were enormous! Four grape leaves, four falafel patties, and enough baba, hummus and tabbouli for six or eight people. At $15.95, this combination platter is a bargain.
As for main dishes, there are 13 items on Shamshiri's vegetarian menu and although not marked as such, according to our waitress they are all vegan. My husband ordered the vegetarian shirin polo -- basmati rice with slivered almonds, pistachios, carrots, and candied orange peel, cooked in a saffron maramalade sauce and served with flame-grilled vegetables on the side. My husband loved it but I found the marmalade flavor a bit too strong. I ordered the vegetarian sabzi polo, which was a stew of green onions, cilantro, parsley, baby dill, garlic, and fenugreek baked or cooked a long time with dried limes, served over basmati rice. It was quite good, a bit reminsicent of Indian spinach but more intense. Once again the quantities were enormous and we ended up with a lot of leftovers to take home. Most of the entrees are priced at $10 or $11 which is quite reasonable for LA.
For dessert, our waitress called the owner to come to out table and tell us which desserts did not contain either eggs or dairy products. There were a few choices and we ended up going with the baklava which we liked very much but which may contain honey -- we did not ask the owner about that. There were several dessert options though so there is probably something honey-free as well.
On the whole, the meal was affordable (especially for LA) and delightful in every regard. And we ended up with enough leftovers to feed three people dinner. We will definitely be returning to this restaurant.
I'm revising my earlier grade because when dining here again in the autumn of 2012, I found the food a lot less appealing. Both the main dishes we had (two different kinds of vegetable stews) were swimming in oil, though the salad was still good. In fact, the food was so oily that I haven't gone back.