Zahav in Philadelphia PA is a multi award winning restaurant and has a James Beard award winning Chef/Owner. I saw Zahav featured on the Travel Channel with Anthony Bourdain and decided that one day I’d try this restaurant.
Zahav is a modern Israeli Restaurant that offers authentic Middle Eastern Cuisine. The flatbreads called laffa are baked in an authentic wood burning oven called an Arabic Taboon. The skewered meats and fish are cooked on live coals.
The atmosphere is seductive with lanterns and the walls look like sandstone. The focal point is the energetic exhibition kitchen where you can view the action threw textured and stained glass.
The ever changing vegetable heavy menu is mostly made of small plates that are meant to be shared. However enough meat items are on the menu to please meat eaters alike.
Israeli Wines and a very interesting and unique cocktail menu are offered. I tried a cocktail called the Harif, it was made with some sort of hot pepper liquor and other ingredients. I liked that it wasn’t too sweet and the heat and liquor volume was enjoyable.
We started with what they call salatim, a variety of cold vegetable salads, hummus and fresh from the wood oven hot laffa bread. Every salad was very detailed and layered with flavors and every salad was delicious. It’s too hard to pick a favorite because they all were so special. The fresh baked laffa bread was also delicious and I never had hummus like that before. It was so light but creamy and more delicious than any other I ever tried before. I never knew hummus could be like that. My husband isn’t a big fan of this kind of cuisine but even he was amazed by how delicious everything was and even he who dislikes hummus thought this one was very good and kept eating it too.
Then we got 4 warm plates to share. Each one of them was like nothing else I ever had before. Again very layered with flavors and also very detailed all all delicious. We had roasted brussels sprouts with brussels sprouts tehna, Bulgarian Feta, and pickled lemon. My husband kept eating them and kept saying over and over how really great they were.
Fried cauliflower was served over a chive labaneh, with dill, mint and garlic.
Crispy haloumi was over cooked dates and topped with pickled onions, walnuts and a turkish pepper called urfa thats sort of raisin like with a slight building heat.
Yemenite Beef Stew was melt in your mouth tender beef that came with a potato.
And house smoked sable with house made challah bread, soft egg and fresh herbs.
If you are counting that is five plates. I don’t know if it’s typical or not but they gave us the delicious brussels sprouts as an extra dish. We kept waiting for one dish to be disappointing or not so great or just ok but that never happened. Everything far exceeded our expectations.
Next was our main plates and yes I was full by now. I had the branzino. It came with cerlery root, apples and tzatziki. I never had fish cooked better anywhere and I’ve been to many of the best places and I almost always order fish. This fish was absolutely perfect and delicious. I never eat the skin but here it was crisp and delicious. Everything on the plate complimented everything together.
My husband picked something duck. I don’t recall what it was called. He thought of the dish as duck meatballs. I KNOW it wasn’t called duck meatballs but he said he didn’t know duck meatballs could ever be that delicious. He they were the most delicious duck meatballs he ever had and was glad he picked them to eat.
The desserts we tried were prepared just as well as everything else we tried. I never had a baboosa before so I ordered the pumpkin baboosa served with mascarpone, cranberries and walnuts. It wasn’t too sweet and had a nice light texture to it. I liked the almost tart fresh cranberries they the perfect accent and went really well cutting threw the rich cream and that crumble was just so tasty.
Our other dessert was the Honey cake bread pudding with green apple frozen yogurt, apple compote, and golden raisins. When you got a spoonful of everything at once it was very refreshing with interesting textures and flavors.
Service was very informative, friendly, and efficient. We were checked on often. Our plates and silverware were cleared and changed as needed. Crumbs were removed and we were personally thanked by the manager for coming in.
This restaurant is located in Old Town Philadelphia PA in the Society Hill Section. With limited street parking available you most likely will need to valet park at the Ritz Garage or the Sheraton Garage. You also need to be able to walk over the old cobblestone street and walk up a few stairs to dine at Zahav.
This was one of the best Forking Meals I had anywhere!