Zahav


Zahav
237 St James Place
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 625-8800

Zahav is not one of those restaurants you can stumble upon walking the streets of Old City – it’s truly a hidden gem. You have to know what you’re looking for – and what you’re looking for is a restaurant specializing in upscale Israeli “street food” that many, even those from Israel, claim is the best food they’ve had.

We discovered Zahav after snagging a copy of Philly Magazine’s “50 Best Restaurants” issue last year, where it ranked quite high on the list. Initially drawn to the place because of its “marbled rye” cocktail [an on-the-rocks lemony drink with caraway-infused rye*], and it’s charismatic head chef, Michael Solomonov**, we quickly realized that this was one of the best meals we had ever had in our lives. Seriously.

Actually, it might be the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. Go for the Tay’im [“Taste of Zahav”] tasting menu. For $36, you get five wonderful courses: a salatim platter for the table [Israeli salads… thumbs up to the beets and carrots], a hummus and pita platter of your choosing [our personal favorite: hummus tehina], two “mezze” [if you leave here without choosing the halloumi with date paste and the fried cauliflower, you have made a huge mistake], one entree and one dessert. I had the couscous and eggplant for my entree, a dish so simple there’s nothing to complain about.

I can’t speak for the meat-eaters, but Shaun can, and the meat dishes are equally as delicious as the veg options. There is not a thing on the menu I would not recommend… other than the marbled rye cocktail. Unfortunately, the drink was too lemon-y and too overpowered by ice to allow the caraway flavor to shine.

What I would recommend to drink is any of the Pelter wines [from Galilee]. The bartender informed us that Zahav snags any and all of the Pelter wines whenever they reach a liquor store in the area, making it such that Zahav is the only place you can get this wine [they also don’t ship to NY] outside of Israel in the mid-atlantic region. The Chardonnay is smooth and buttery [my favorite], and the Sauvignon Blanc strikes a balance between citrus and vanilla that even a S.B.-hater like myself can learn to enjoy.

I have been to Zahav twice now, and each visit was equally as memorable. This really says something about the food because the first night we went was the day we got engaged. The staff was so warm and excited for us, and Michael Solomonov [yes, he was working in his kitchen on a Friday night, a rarity for famous chefs that I admire so much] even took the time to congratulate us, calling his James Beard Award “small potatoes” compared to marriage.

If you’re in Philadelphia and you don’t try this restaurant, I’ll be disappointed in you.

Reservations can be made via OpenTable.com, or over the phone: (215)625-8800.

*If you can’t tell from the title of the blog, I have a weakness for rye, rye cocktails, old-fashioneds, bourbon, bourbon-whiskey, et. al. More on that later.

** Solomonov was recently awarded the James Beard Award for Best Mid-Atlantic Chef. I highly recommend his Ted Talk to learn about his inspirations. He is truly a stunning character. I also highly recommend his other restaurants: Percy Street Barbecue, Xochitl [which he recently sold, but go there anyway], and the soon-to-open Federal Donuts. As a vegetarian, even I can appreciate the appeal of a fried chicken and donut restaurant.

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Categories: Food

Author:ryesandshine

Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/

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  1. The Curious Case of Puppy Hiccups | Ryes and 'Shine - September 12, 2011

    […] Note: One of my earliest posts was on Michael Solomonov’s Zahav. Solomonov is now endorsing this company, Negev Nectars, which supports small Israeli farmers by […]

  2. Hummus with Beets… Really. | Ryes and 'Shine - September 13, 2011

    […] looks beautiful. And tastes somewhat similar to one of the salatim selections at Zahav [whines]. Except not nearly as awesome – but awesome enough to bring back memories. SO […]

  3. Are You a Culinary Bodhisattva? | Ryes and 'Shine - October 12, 2011

    […] mentioned the accessibility of Philadelphia once before when I commented on how shocked I was to see Michael Solomonov working his own kitchen on a weekend night. […]

  4. The “Best Meal Ever” | Ryes and 'Shine - February 10, 2012

    […] capture everything about that meal [and that day] – getting engaged, moving to Philadelphia, eating my first Israeli meal, meeting a chef-hero, tasting delicious wines and cocktails, eating the best food ever – into such […]

  5. This Post is (Almost) All About Food and Philly. | Ryes and 'Shine - October 14, 2012

    […] BUT THEN they had Rueda by the glass, AND THEN there was sangria, so Tinto won before we even got our food. Which was awesome, too: la peral and boucheron cheeses, an arugula salad with mission figs and goat cheese croquettes, more mission figs, meatballs, mussels in a tomato sauce, green beans with dates and almonds and the most delicious octopus dish, ever. Seriously, Philadelphians, if you haven’t been here GO NOW. Tinto skyrocketed to the top of our weekend list. It doesn’t hurt that it’s now associated with a wonderful memory, just like Zahav.* […]

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