we had dinner at zahav last night- it was truly incredible. ive been going to zahav every few months since it first opened and every time i go, im impressed by how the food keeps improving- becoming more refined and innovative. ive never embraced the small plates concept, but i love zahav. theyve done so much with the space too- i thought the noise level last night was much lower than i had previously experienced, and the ambiance was more intimate. granted there were 2 of us and we were lucky enough to be at a booth and not on top of other diners so this probably helped but still, i noticed a difference.
onto the food....
1) turkish hummus w laffa: excellent- ive always found the hummus to be extremely consistent here and this was no exception. creamy and delicious with big chunks of chickpeas
2) salatim: beets with tehina, smoked eggplant, stewed okra, grated carrots, fennel, cucumber salad, tabouli, pickled wax beens. my favorites in order: beets, eggplant, carrots. the salatim never really blows me away but i do enjoy it.
3) fish kofte: three small fish balls made of halibut served in a fish broth with english peas. the kofte were surprisingly light (reminded me a bit of tiny fishy matzah balls). there was a nice fresh herby flavor too- from the addition of cilantro in the kofte. the broth was fishy and mild. not spicy, very clean flavors.
4) kibbe naya: three quenelles of raw ground lamb each on top of a slice of grilled avocado. it was topped with some kind of sauce with sesame seeds- it did not have a very strong taste, and i dont even remember what it was unfortunately. this was a very delicate dish, and the avocado's creaminess paired surprisingly well with the raw lamb. i enjoyed the crunch of the microgreens on the plate too
5) moussaka: one piece of layered grilled eggplant (no skin) and ground lamb, on top of a fava bean puree. a very light interpretation- no bechamel sauce or tomatoes. this had a very strong lamb flavor
6) house smoked sable with house made challah and a fried egg: delicious, simple and executed perfectly. each ingredient tasted exactly like it should- it was basically a toad in the hole with challah topped with chunks of smoked sable. this was one of my favorites definitely
7) fried cauliflower on top of lebneh w mint: had this many times, love it each time. addictive and simple- we had so much food that i probably could have done without this, but really its a great dish.
8) the hungarian: three grilled duck patties w galushka: these blew me away- the patties had such a strong and clean duck flavor, i was really impressed. i found them to be salty, but in a good way. the galushka reminded me of spaetzle and had a mild tomato flavor, maybe from having been cooked in a tomato broth? the duck patties were obviously the star of this dish- very bold flavors
9) the sabra: chicken and rice: the chunks of chicken were so extremely tender- ive never tasted chicken and rice this good. the flavors were familiar and simple but again the execution was just perfect. this dish reminded me so much of the chicken rice you can find at halal trucks in nyc...but elevated to such a high level. even the sauce that accompanied the dish tasted like traditional "white sauce". i loved this
i cant believe we ate dessert considering how much food we had but....
10) halvah mousse: if i had to recommend ONE thing from my meal, this is it. served in a glass like a parfait, with layers of halvah mousse, blueberry puree, and chickpea praline. this dessert is perfect: rich, not sweet, incredible balance of flavors and textures. i could go on...
11)almond semifreddo topped with chocolate disk: light dessert, strong almond taste- good way to end a meal
we had four drinks between the two of us: 1 marble rye, 2 saz araks, 1 british mandate. liked them all very much.
this was an intense dinner...im still recovering this morning
237 St James Place, Philadelphia, PA 19106