zare“I was supposed to be a brain surgeon,” Chef offered, grinning ear to ear.

His presence is as bold as his red chef coat.  The Persian/ Mediterranean/Californian menu is brilliant.  At The Fly Trap, Hoss Zaré builds upon lessons from his mother’s kitchen, playfully.

The original Fly Trap opened in San Francisco in the 1880s, serving more of a meat and potatoes fare.  As a young man, Zaré worked there from 1986-91 while in medical school at U.C. Davis, developing skill and taste for things culinary over neurosurgery.

Mediterranean mussels

Mediterranean mussels

He bought The Fly Trap in 2008, initially naming it Zaré at Fly Trap. “It’s an American dream,” he admits.

Brette, our server, is hugely appealing and intuitive.  We arrived hungry, after cocktails, certain we’d find satisfaction here.  In the past, we’d jump on the memorable pistachio meatballs with pomegranate, honey and red harissa.  Tonight, we were inclined to listen as she introduced the evening specials and wine options.

A bottle of Pleiades XXIII Old Vines red blend of Sangiovese, Viognier, Pinot Noir and Grenache was a delight.

The first (and every) mouthful of Mediterranean mussels in the greenest of green broth with grilled bread was supreme.  We shared.  Ever fans of this preparation, we’ve never seen nor tasted any so rich and fragrant, with cilantro, chorizo, fennel, mint, leeks and ghalieh mahi.

Ghaliel mahi is equated to “Persian spicy fish and herb stew” in a Google search.

Grilled stone fruit and freekah salad

Grilled stone fruit and freekah salad

A grilled stone fruit and freekah (a green wheat grain, sundried, roasted and cracked like bulgur) summer salad chock full of mint, dill, parsley, cilantro, almonds, pistachios, peaches, apricots, and dates with sumac dressing  was a treat of texture and flavor.

My husband chose two “beginnings” as his “main,” those addictive pistachio meatballs plus delicious roasted eggplant “Kashk Bademjan,” with onion focaccia, walnuts, yogurt, mint, turmeric cream.

The “Kufteh,” a giant ground beef meatball with harissa stuffed with spiced chicken, in mushroom, fennel and onion broth with lavash & torshi (bread and pickled vegetables) was served to me by Chef Zaré.

Beef Kufteh, spicy chicken stuffing

Beef Kufteh, spicy chicken stuffing

“My mother would make this using a whole chicken to make the stuffing inside the meatball,” he shared, fondly describing a large family gathering with everyone dipping bread in the broth.

Zaré later served the last three plates of Kufteh to the adjacent party.

Zare's goat cheesecake

Zare’s goat cheesecake

“You know what that is,” he whispered to us, eyes twinkling.

The sensational tastes at The Fly Trap were intensified by rubbing elbows (for those very few sweet minutes) with the one and only Hoss Zaré.

We ordered the amazing goat cheesecake with candied almonds and eggplant preserves to go.

When you go: The Fly Trap: 606 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. 415-243-0580. Closed Sundays.

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