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Zahav, Modern Israeli in Society Hill - 2011 James Beard Award Winning Chef Michael Solomonov on St. James Place


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Going to Philly the weekend of 2/20 - Vetri, 10 Arts, Le Bec Fin, and Bibou have no availability. Osteria is only available at 5 p.m. I made a reservation for Chifa but the menu doesn't really seem very appetizing - actually very little in terms of Peruvian or Chinese food. What else should I investigate, especially things that I can't find in DC?

Zahav (reservations are imperative - it's also a two-minute walk from Amada if you want to sample both) and John's Roast Pork (open M-F 6:45 AM - 3:00 PM only).

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bitto cheese

blink.gif Dat's a gooood cheese.

an Israeli restaurant in Philly called "Zahav."

Got "dragged" here one night by some local friends. Was all prepared for it to be scene-y and useless. Then I got to eat a whole dish of PERFECTLY cooked rabbit organs.

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Zahav (reservations are imperative - it's also a two-minute walk from Amada if you want to sample both) and John's Roast Pork (open M-F 6:45 AM - 3:00 PM only).


What's good at Zahav? The Mesibah (party time, salatim & hummus,with laffa, selection of mezze, whole-roasted lamb shoulder with pomegranate & chickpeas) sounds good.

What the heck is house smoked sable? Is this supposed to be sablefish? Menu here

Going back in February, will trying to squeeze in two lunches and one dinner. Staying at the Marriott next to City Hall. What are some interesting lunch options as we will do Zahav for dinner? Does John's Roast Pork have heated indoor seating with highchair?

ETA: forget John's, we're there on a weekend.

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Had Jim's yesterday and Steve's Prince of Steaks today. There's no doubt that Steve's is better but the meal of the trip is the Mesibah at Zahav. When I first checked out Zahav, I wasn't inclined to go since it seems like just another middle-eastern restaurant. What ultimately persuaded me to go is the finale of their tasting menu - whole roasted lamb shoulder. The "mesibah" turned out to be 8 courses for $48. This is an unbelievable bargain.

Before the meal started, they bring out some pickles and 3 dips. The green stuff is very spicy, like the stuff you get at Shamshiry or Rose.

First course is the hummus and laffa bread. The bread is soft and pillowy, much lighter than the bread from Lebanese Taverna, almost like the crust of a great Neapolitan pizza. The hummus is creamy and wonderfully seasoned, better than any hummus that I've had. Frankly I didn't know hummus can be this good.

Second course is salatim, 8 salads, including eggplant, beet, parsley (tabouleh), squash, cucumber, carrots, cabbage. These are great to snack on and you need the fiber anyway.

Third course is a roasted eggplant soup. I've never had eggplant soup before but I liked it alot.

Fourth course is foie gras with molasses and tahini on laffa bread - the combination turns out to be terrific.

Fifth course is fried haloumi - sheep's milk cheese. I don't know shit about haloumi. I've had them before and I'll probably have them in the future but I'm not a cheesehead so I'll just say they were fine.

Sixth course is the smoke sable fish on challah and egg yolk. This is not a mild fish. Fortunately for me I love fishy fishy fish.

Seventh course is the lamb, roasted, grilled and braised, altogether for 48 hrs, served with crispy Persian rice. We were given a pair of tongs to pull the meat off the plate. It was dark in the dining room (my wife blew out the candle) and the lamb shoulder included plenty of skin and fat. But for the darkness, I probably would not have ate the fat which immediately melted in your mouth and spilled forth wonderful flavor. And the rice was fantastic. If you like the lamb at Komi, you'll love the lamb here. I'm tempted to say the lamb is better here (especially if you love fat and skin). I think we ate only 1/3 of the plate and took the rest to go (we brought a cooler on the trip so this made it home today for dinner).

Eighth course is dessert. I have to say that Zahav does not believe in bland dishes - if they err, it's on the salty side. The service was very friendly and accommodating. When we asked them to pick up the pace for our daughter's sake, they handled it with no problem. I was so impressed that I tipped over 20%. All this for $48 per person.

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We did the party time at Zahav last weekend, and our menu was pretty similar to Ericandblueboy's but a different soup (chicken and chickpea) and no foie gras. We received a fried cauliflower dish with a dill sauce that was delicious. This is a crazy amount of food for $45/pp and if you can find a reservation I'd strongly suggest you consider it.

On the low end of things, Paesano's and Sarcone's are still kicking ass in case anyone was worried.

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Love Zahav's 'Mesibah' tasting menu. $48 is a steal for what you get (that roasted lamb shoulder is sooooo tasty). You'll want to reserve in advance by a few days to ensure the have the lamb available (at least that's what I've always been told in the past). I do like that they size the amount of food based on party size (i.e. a 2-top will get likely a 1/2 shoulder vs. a full shoulder which is way too much food).

Good choices above (another fan of Kanella).

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A delayed visit to Philly yielded much gluttony

Love Zahav's 'Mesibah' tasting menu. $48 is a steal for what you get (that roasted lamb shoulder is sooooo tasty).

If you eat too much lamb, is it considered muttony?

I am sorry.

If you eat too much lamb, is it considered muttony?

Perhaps. The real question is what you would call a person who went back for 6 or 7 servings of LaCroix's foie gras milkshakes :)

A future participant in a clinical trial? :)

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Highly recommend all of these places, but ZAHAV is a don't miss.

Couldn't agree more -- my meal at Zahav this year, as a solo diner, without even trying the lamb shoulder!, was by far the best meal I had anywhere. Just one swoonworthy dish after another. If only DC had a a place like this.

(OTOH, my meal at Osteria was very good but not life-changing.)

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We plan to spend four nights in Philly in early May. What are some great places for pre-concert dinners near the Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music? We don't eat meat but we love fish.

Kirite, it's a 1.2 mile cab ride to the Kimmel Center from Zahav. What else do you need?

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You're right, of course. My surgically repaired knee won't allow much walking now, but by May I should be cruise to Zahav. Sorry to be a pest.

And you can still do the "Tayim - Taste of Zahav" tasting menu, because there are veggie/fish choices for every course.

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[These paragraphs were copied from The Mother Thread as part of larger posts.

Use the Snapback Function (the little icon at the top-right of each entry) to view each post in its entirety.]

Zahav – Another Philly restaurant, another set of two-tops jammed together. But what can perhaps be called a tale of two tables, the environment at Zahav was a lot more pleasant than Osteria. Turned out it was restaurant week in Philly, so we were forced into the RW menu…which wasn’t a bad thing. They basically offer the Taste of Zahav menu for $35 (normally $39). Dinner started with the Salatim (a selection of 6 salads, inducing tabouleh, spiced carrots, chopped roasted beets, Israeli-style chopped cucumber, pureed eggplant, green beans), a plate of excellent house pickles, hummus (surprisingly weak), and excellent laffa. Next each person orders two mezze, we went with an excellent crispy haloumi, an ok sea bass crudo, solid fried salt cod, and awesome smoke sable. Next each person gets one selection off the Al Ha’esh (grilled kabob) section, the kofte was very good, the grilled spiced eggplant decent. Finally you each choose a dessert - peanut baklava and a phyllo-based dish called konafi…plus a bonus dish of rugelach. I would definitely put Zahav on the short list of places to return.

Thanks to this community, ate like kings this weekend in Philly.


...


Dinner at Zahav, however, was worth the drive alone. Dollar-for-dollar, the tasting menu at $48 was the best meal I've had all year, and that includes stops this year at Inn at Little Washington, Fiola, Proof, etc.

First, you start with one of the best hummus' I've ever had, and outstanding house-made laffa bread. This is quickly followed by "salatim" - a daily collection of salads that included carrot ginger, spicy green beans, beets, pickles, and a few others I can't remember, all of which were outstanding. My kids rolled right through the salads even though they featured ingredients they usually resist. There was enough of each salad for each person to have a few spoonfuls.

Then comes the progression of mezze - I think there were at least 8, and again, enough on each plate for each person to have at least a few bites. From the online menu, I can spot at least 6: crispy haloumi with dates walnuts apples, marinated brussels sprouts with whipped feta, fried cauliflower, house cured salmon with potato latkes, grilled duck hearts, house smoked sable with challah french toast and poached egg. Not a miss in the bunch.

Then, of course, the signature "whole-roasted lamb shoulder, grilled over coals, then braised with pomegranates & served over chickpeas with crispy Persian rice." Descriptions cannot give this dish justice. Tony Bourdain couldn't do this dish justice, though he strongly praised it on The Layover. We were all getting close to full when this monster shows up at the table, and though we stuffed ourselves silly, there was still a TON left on the plate which they happily packed up for us. My only minor complaint for the evening - they deboned the shoulder when they packed it to go, and I would have liked to take the bones home.

If you weren't already stuffed like a goose, then a progression of desserts shows up. I vaguely remember a pumpkin cake with vanilla custard, chocolate mousse with sour cherries, rugelach, and "konafi" - shredded phyllo with ricotta and apples.

Highly recommend all of these places, but ZAHAV is a don't miss.

A delayed visit to Philly yielded much gluttony (see below) and a little (horti)culture. Overall, I'm really impressed by Philly and I'm glad we made the trip.

...


Zahav - ordered the roasted lamb prix fixe. Overall the food was quite good but a touch oversalted. I was actually most impressed by the laffa bread and hummus. The lamb shoulder must have been 2 pounds of tender flavorful meat and I'm shocked that we finished it all (with +1 doing most of the work). As good as the lamb was, I think we will probably order mezzes a la carte in a future visit.

Back from a quick weekend in Philly.

...


- Dinner at Zahav. It was restaurant week in Philly but Zahava was great. A nice mezze came out with pickled vegetables, baba ganouj, hummus and other delights. The fresh cooked lavash was very good. We had too many items to list, but the kibbe naya and hosue smoked sable were particularly good.

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Is the "tasting counter" menu different than the regular tasting menu? They normally have two flavors of tasting menu - Tayim (choose apps and a kabob) or Mesibah (a parade of apps and the lamb shoulder). My review of Mesibah is here. One of my best meals of 2012.

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Is the "tasting counter" menu different than the regular tasting menu? They normally have two flavors of tasting menu - Tayim (choose apps and a kabob) or Mesibah (a parade of apps and the lamb shoulder). My review of Mesibah is here. One of my best meals of 2012.

Yes, but not a easy task getting a reservation. :(http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/2012/08/01/reservations-for-zahavs-chef-counter-going-live/

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For the Zahav tasting counter, you can try to get lucky by monitoring their twitter for last minute cancellations (though challenging to travel there if it's really last minute).  A couple of example tweets here and here

Based on my experience at Zahav, it's entirely unnecessary to partake of their tasting counter - just go to the bar and order. I don't think you could spend $90 there on food if you tried.

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Based on my experience at Zahav, it's entirely unnecessary to partake of their tasting counter - just go to the bar and order. I don't think you could spend $90 there on food if you tried.

Likely my best option. My daughter will be turning 21 soon and thinking Zahav will be a good choice to celebrate her birthday.

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There are so many errors in that story, I don't know where to begin.

It's not only available on pre-order - in fact, you CAN'T pre-order it. They make a limited number every day, and when they run out, they run out. Note: except for really busy weekends, they rarely run out.

It's not only available to parties of 9 or more - the minimum is 4.

I've been twice, and had it both times. It's stunning, and worth a trip to Philly for.

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Not sure, I've only been to Zahav once and it was during Philly's RW (unbeknownst to us when we made the reservation).  I thought the food was good.  But not as good as what you get in Israel, for example the NYT book review lauds their hummus, but Zahav's hummus that night was a shadow of what you get in Israel.  But I'm a sucker for Middle Eastern cookbooks so I'll be buying it.     

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Not sure, I've only been to Zahav once and it was during Philly's RW (unbeknownst to us when we made the reservation).  I thought the food was good.  But not as good as what you get in Israel, for example the NYT book review lauds their hummus, but Zahav's hummus that night was a shadow of what you get in Israel.  But I'm a sucker for Middle Eastern cookbooks so I'll be buying it.     

Back in 2009, I went to all three James Beard Semifinalists in Philadelphia: Zahav, Amada, and Bindi. Zahav was *so good*, and Amada was *so much better* than it was on my first visit; Bindi was just plain mediocre. It was never nominated again, and went out of business. How it got nominated in the first place, I will never know.

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"Kitchen Roots: Ruta, Solomonov, and Ehland" by Hal B. Klein on pittsburghmagazine.com

Page two of this three-page article focuses exclusively on Michael Solomonov, and fans of his (as well as anyone from Pittsburgh) will enjoy reading the entire piece. Zahav disappointed me on my last visit, and of course, nagging doubts have now crept in about Solomonov having spread himself too thin. However, I was awestruck by this restaurant before it won its Beard award, and even if it turned into a McDonald's, I will always remember it as being the finest restaurant of its type I've ever enjoyed - and "by its type," I don't simply mean "Israeli"; I mean the whole package, even though I can't quite define what the whole package is. I'll say this much: Zahav certainly opened my eyes to the heights that vegan cauliflower can reach. And those cocktails - yowza!

(And a note to our friends in Philadelphia: Yes, Frank Ruta's food really *is* this good - even though he's a Beard winner, Washingtonians who know great food have always considered him "our own special secret" for close to twenty years (or, at least, *I* have); you have to enjoy his wares in a dinner jacket now, but this man could make silk from a sow's ear (and from what I've heard about the kitchen at the Capella Hotel, he sort-of is!)

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13 friends and I decided to visit Philadelphia for New Year's because, why not?  We had no hard dining plans except dim sum and cheesesteaks when one of my friends had the audacious idea of calling Zahav.  Reservation for 14 three days before New Year's? Fat chance, I thought.  Little did I know: they had a (huge) private dining room available for the night, all we had to do was hit a minimum which worked out to about $140 per person (including drinks, tax and tip).  In exchange, we would get a huge chef's tasting menu and two dedicated waiters.  Expensive, but very reasonable all things considered.  So we did it...and wow.  That place is incredible. 

We arrived at 9 and started with some great hummus and fresh pitas, before turning to a slew of about 8 fantastic veggie dishes (carrots, fennel, twice-cooked eggplant, flash-fried cauliflower that reminded me of Rasika's palak chaat, beets, others I'm forgetting).  At this point, I was pretty full already, and that was before they brought out the lamb shoulder (extremely flavorful but actually a bit dry) and some of the best chicken I've ever had (smokey).  Dessert was good but nothing to write home about.  Too stuffed to finish it all, the wait staff boxed everything up for us as soon as we told them we could eat no more, which made for some great leftovers the next few days.   We left at 12:30 drunk and stuffed.

Considering the rackets that most places try to pull off on New Year's, $140 for a private room with seemingly endless great food and lots of booze at one of the city's best restaurants was worth it, and then some. 

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Headed to Philly for the first time ever this weekend.  Staying at the Palomar near Rittenhouse Sq.  Everyone says we should go to Zahav one night, and I love Middle-Eastern food, but obviously there are no reservations at this late date.

How realistic is it for 2 people to eat at the bar on a Saturday or long-weekend Sunday night?

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On 5/22/2017 at 10:06 AM, Rieux said:

Everyone says we should go to Zahav one night

I'll be there June 3rd, so if you do end up going I'd be interested in a report. I have a reservation, so I'd mainly be interested in thoughts about food. Thanks!!

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8 hours ago, dracisk said:

I'll be there June 3rd, so if you do end up going I'd be interested in a report. I have a reservation, so I'd mainly be interested in thoughts about food. Thanks!!

If you have a party of 4 or more, definitely do the tasting menu with the lamb shoulder. But I've literally not found a miss across the entire menu.

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9 hours ago, DanielK said:

If you have a party of 4 or more, definitely do the tasting menu with the lamb shoulder. But I've literally not found a miss across the entire menu.

I was able to do the tasting menu with the lamb shoulder as a single diner.  Lots of leftovers.  FWIW, I had a good time but enjoyed Vernick a lot more (they're very different restaurants, though).  

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I dined at Zahav for the first time Saturday night with three friends. We couldn't do the lamb tasting menu (mesibah) because they were out of the lamb. We were quite disappointed. Our waiter (whom I really liked -- competent, patient, and friendly -- I believe his name was Chris) was very sympathetic and explained that the lamb takes 3 days to prepare and they'd had a couple of large parties order it. Oh, well. I'm kind of surprised they'd run out of the lamb on a Saturday night, but obviously it can happen. The good news is that all of the non-lamb food we ate was delicious.

We ended up getting the other tasting menu (tayim): salatim & hummus with laffa, two mezze, one al ha’esh, dessert. I loved all the salads (some more than others, but they were all good). I particularly remember a fennel salad that for me was marred by cilantro, but I think I would have liked it if not for the cilantro. I think my favorite salad was a beet salad -- nice and earthy and no goat cheese in sight. The hummus was as delicious as advertised. I think because they'd run out of the lamb they gave us a special hummus topped with a small mound of short rib (or maybe not since I now see the daily topping hummus on the menu -- not sure what usually comes with the tasting menu). Anyway, it was delicious.

Among the four of us we ordered most of the mezze. The only one we skipped was the duck hearts. The menu currently online is slightly different than our menu since we didn't have grilled asparagus, and I can't remember what we had in its place. I wasn't particularly impressed with the fried cauliflower, which I understand is one of their more popular dishes. It was fine but just not that exciting. I took this opportunity to try kibbe naya for the first time. I found it to be quite salty (not sure if that's how it always is), but I'd definitely try it again. I enjoyed the interplay of the lamb and the bulgur. I love cheese, so the pastilla and haloumi were mezze highlights for me. I also really enjoyed the crispy grape leaves. I'd never had grapes leaves prepared that way before.

The meats were probably the least exciting part of the meal for me (so sad we couldn't have the lamb!). We ordered two orders of the brisket kofte (my favorite by far) and one order each of the sirloin shishlik (fine and very steak-y but not that exciting) and the branzino (I'm not a huge fish fan; one of my friends wanted to order this). Also possibly because the lamb was sold out the waiter brought an extra dish of a delicious smoky eggplant during the meat course. I wish I could describe the eggplant better. It wasn't baba ganouj, but it tasted like the base of it.

I'm not going to be able to do the desserts justice in terms of descriptions, but they were all delicious. One was a chocolate and coffee concoction (I think coffee custard covered in chocolate). This one didn't excite me too much since it seemed like something one could get anywhere. It was also too rich for me, especially after a big meal. One of the other desserts we tried was a lemon poppy seed (?) cake with a dollop of some kind of frozen labneh (I can't remember the flavor, but it wasn't plain), and the third dessert I think was phyllo dough wrapped around labneh with lots of delicious accompaniments. I particularly enjoyed the two non-chocolate desserts.

Throughout most of our meal Michael Solomonov was in and out of the kitchen and chatting with tables (though not with us). Eric Ripert was also dining near our table with three other people, none of whom we recognized. We noted he was eating the lamb.

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I should have noted, we showed up at 4:30 on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and were fourth in line for the bar.  Had we arrived 5 minutes later we would not have gotten into the first seating of the bar.  We were lucky we did.  We had the lamb shoulder tasting menu with the wine pairings and it was a spectacular meal.  I mean, really spectacular.  Everything was delicious.  The bar staff was engaging and fun to talk to, and did not rush us.  We left around 7, very, very full proclaiming this one of our best meals of 2017 (up there with Frenchie in Paris).  I bought the cookbook, and have since made the hummus, which is much better than the Ottolenghi version from Jerusalem.

In short, if you can't get a reservation, go early, get a seat at the bar.

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6 hours ago, dracisk said:

the waiter brought an extra dish of a delicious smoky eggplant during the meat course. I wish I could describe the eggplant better. It wasn't baba ganouj, but it tasted like the base of it.

Was it perhaps this dish

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8 minutes ago, Tweaked said:

Was it perhaps this dish.

Maybe, although the eggplant wasn't mashed. All I can remember at this point was the smoky flavor.

16 minutes ago, Rieux said:

In short, if you can't get a reservation, go early, get a seat at the bar.

And if you do get a reservation, don't count on the lamb (although, to be fair, I don't know if it was a totally freak thing that they ran out or if it happens regularly).

ETA: They handed us a menu without the mesibah printed on it, so I'm guessing they run out of the lamb at least semi-regularly.

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If you call, they tell you that they only make a limited number of the lamb shoulders, it commonly sells out during the Saturday dinner rush, and you cannot reserve one. On my weekend Philly trips, we always either dine at Zahav on Friday night, or an early reservation on Saturday.

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7 minutes ago, DanielK said:

If you call, they tell you that they only make a limited number of the lamb shoulders, it commonly sells out during the Saturday dinner rush, and you cannot reserve one. On my weekend Philly trips, we always either dine at Zahav on Friday night, or an early reservation on Saturday.

Darn, I wish I'd known that. It never occurred to me that they might sell out (though in retrospect I can see how they could). We had a late reservation on Saturday.

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2 hours ago, DonRocks said:

(Don't forget, you can literally almost walk across the street for dessert at Amada, if a movable feast is your thing - I've done this. And if you stay at Sheraton Sociey Hill, you can walk home, too.)

Screenshot 2017-06-05 at 6.26.39 PM.png

I had no idea Amada was that close, although I've been before (many years ago). I really don't know my Philly geography. We parked at the Sheraton. They offer discounted valet parking for Zahav patrons.

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25 minutes ago, curiouskitkatt said:

The problem with the national Beard awards is that they're usually 5-7 years too late - to get the "real" Zahav, you needed to have gone 10-years ago; to get the "real" Ashley Christensen, you needed to have gone 15-years ago.

I tried to tell people about both, I really did!

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