Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Joon showcases the glories and grace of the Iranian kitchen.

I’ll get to the pistachio soup and duck fesenjoon — and the talent behind the cooking — in a minute.

First, I want to tell you why I fell for Joon in Vienna, Va., before I even stepped out of the car. At a time when service is taking a serious beating, this new Iranian restaurant puts hospitality on a pedestal. Not only does Joon (Farsi for “life” and a term of endearment) offer valet parking, the amenity is gratis.


Smiling at my good fortune, I enter the foyer, where I receive a verbal embrace at the host stand and notice that one of the reasons I’m here is holding court at the bar: chef-owner Najmieh Batmanglij, 75, the acclaimed cookbook author. Another woman, who introduces herself as a “hospitality fairy,” leads me to a table in a dining room whose multiple blue accents are a calming contrast to any rush-hour traffic. Water is immediately poured. Drink orders are taken.

The curtain for “life” goes up.

Someone shows up with warm bread and a plate of spreads: crumbled feta and goat cheese, a tapenade made from two kinds of olives, and coins of butter, green with herbs. We rip pieces of the lavash, baked in-house, and make short work of the condiments. Just about anywhere else, you’d be charged for such a gesture…