Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 1/14/23
Inside the new Aria development in Sandy Springs, Yalda is a top notch Middle Eastern spot with a spacious dining room, open kitchen, sprawling bar, and expansive patio to welcome you! Beyond the décor, on the menu, everything from spectacular hummus and Labneh with amazing toppings, delicious dips, fresh salads, gorgeous grilled meats, sensational small plates, decadent desserts, as well as cool cocktails. This is not one to miss.
When we arrived, the bar manager put together an amazing coursed meal for us and we had a little bit of everything on the menu and it’s pretty epic. Let’s start with their cocktail menu. They have a great wine and beer list, but the cocktail we got was a treat. The Hafez’s Last Word is a mix of a tangy, tiki-inspired mai tai with a creamy, NY sour. It does start out sour with a red wine topper, but ends up sweet from the mai tai. It’s both beach and city! Yes, please.
Our first course started with the spreads like the Za’atar Labneh, Hummus, and Mirza Ghasemi. Starting with the Hummus that is earthy and creamy on it’s own and you can flavor it up with either pickled mushroom mixed with carrot or lamb shawarma. We opted to top it with the pickled mushroom that added a tang and crunch that comes through on the end. We’ve not experienced this combo of flavors before, but glad we have now! It is all together earthy with white truffle, well seasoned, tangy, crunchy.
Our favorite, surprisingly was the Za’atar Labneh, but this time with lamb shawarma. The lamb is tender and well seasoned a top a sour yet creamy labneh yogurt. We’ve tried this before at various restaurants and it was lack-luster. Yalda does a good job with a delicious mix of creamy, savory, and seasoning. We’re all-in. Finally, the Mirza Ghasemi is not to be missed either with smoky, smashed earthy eggplant mixed with tangy tomato, flavorful spices, and earthy garlic. You can eat it alone or as a dip with the pita bread they bring for snack!
The second course they put together for us was Mezze with the Roasted Haloumi Cheese, wings, and Zeytoun Parvardeh (olives). Starting with the meaty, smoked wings, they’re perfectly charred and tender inside. A great wing paired with a creamy, spicy harissa that goes so well with the char of the wings. Something we didn’t expect to like was the Zeytoun Parvardeh. Not being big on green olives, this dish also boasts ground walnuts and pomegranate seeds. That takes the olives bitterness and tang down a notch with the earthy of the walnut and fruitiness and burst of tang from the pomegranate. Wow!
Our favorite of the mezze was the Roast Haloumi Cheese. Spongy, springy cheese with a sharp rich flavor then perfectly charred and roasted outside that changes the texture. It comes atop the pickled mushrooms to give it tangy, earthy, crunchy flavor in addition of the delightful roasted cheese.
The third course was the healthiest of the night with the salads! Don’t miss out on these, there is a lot of delicious options on this menu, but save room for a salad, you’ll be happy you did! First, a staple on any middle eastern menu is the Mediterranean Salad. Mixed green that starts crunchy and a good helping of earthy feta, as well as a fantastic wine vinaigrette. Another staple, the Shirazi Salad is the freshest and healthiest, but doesn’t skimp on flavor. Crisp and clean cucumbers paired with tomatoes, tangy onion, and earthy parsley then doused in a bright lemon dressing.
Our favorite of the salads was the Beet salad. Think a bed of spring mix surrounded by sweet pickled beets, crunchy and nutty walnuts, tangy onion, a sprinkling of cheese, all slathered in a tangy bright and sweet pomegranate dressing. It’s actually sweet and rich, a must try.
The final course we got was an epic grilled meat duo of Salmon Kabobs and Lamb Chops paired with crispy, Tahdig rice. The rice itself is cooked on the grill to add a crunchiness and you can chose between Lentil and Raisin or Fava Bean and Dill. Between the two the fava is more earthy with a flavorful dill mixture, while the Lentil and Raisin is sweeter with raisings and crispy, crunchy onions, with was our favorite.
As far as the Salmon Kabobs, they’re tender and flaky fish with a ton of flavorful seasonings and charred crispy skin for that added je ne said quoi. If you get one meat, it would be the Lamb Chops. Succulent, meaty, large chops that are fall apart tender, perfectly seasoned, and a good lemon flavor on the back end. That pairs so well with the sweetness of the Lentil and Raisin rice. Along with your meat, they have a large list of sauces to try. We imagine any of the creamy offerings would be delicious with the lamb.
We passed on dessert because we were so full. This meal was very well put together and Yalda is well run for it being so new, we went in the second week. We were astounded by how well it was run.