HOME > Chowhound > Philadelphia >

Discussion

Zahav

Zahav gets a lot of love on this board. I went recently for happy hour and left pretty disappointed. The drinks were not great, though we weren't sure if that was due to not caring for their creative cocktails or if they were poorly mixed. The hummus was less than stellar (it usually is stellar) and the salatim were too salty; the over-salted double cooked eggplant was a particular letdown since that has been my favorite in the past and it was just not good. The laffa was still great.

I have had some great experiences at Zahav but this was my first time for happy hour; has anyone been there in the past few months and can confirm if this was an aberration or not?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I haven't been in a few months but last time I was there it was as good as ever. Never been for happy hour.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      I was there over July 4th and had some of the best lamb shoulder I have ever eaten...

      1. re: bluehensfan

        With the MESIBAH menu (I'm guessing the only way to order the Lamb Shoulder?) do you get a selection of the other courses as you do with the Ta'Yim menu?

        http://uhockey.blogspot.com

        1. re: uhockey

          With the mesibah you get the laffa and hummus, salatim, a few of the small plates (like the haloumi cheese and fried cauliflower), this enormous lamb shoulder that looks like something from the Flintstones (see picture) and dessert. So it's essentially the Ta'Yim plus the coal grilled lamb marinated in pomegranite with chick peas. For the extra $6 you pay per person to get the lamb shoulder per person it's a steal since it almost doubles the amount of food you get. I remember that there was so much lamb that we could not finish it all (even though we tried!)

           
    2. sad to hear. i haven't been there in about two months and was missing it. i haven't found better hummus ANYwhere in this city.

      17 Replies
      1. re: rabidog

        Sounds like we just hit at an off time. I'll be sure to come back again for dinner.

        I agree that Zahav's hummus, when it's on point, is the best around. The hummus at Mama's at 20th & Ranstead is almost as good and a fantastic value, but of course is not served with that fresh baked laffa.

        1. re: barryg

          I live just a few blocks from Mama's and agree that their hummus is 2nd best in the city. Also agree that you hit Zahav at an off moment. It happens to the best of us, I suppose.

          1. re: phillybakingqueen

            mama's is definitely up there. i haven't been there in awhile though.

            last christmas i emailed zahav to see if they'd share their recipe for a bah hummusbug party at my house. they kindly did, and i made it, though i still admit theirs is better. there must be a secret ingredient. it is SO easy (albeit messy) to make at home, i recommend emailing them for the recipe (i since seem to have lost it but still churn out something vaguely similar) if you like to cook at home!

            1. re: rabidog

              Bah hummusbug?! That sounds like my kind of party. Hummus is really more technique than recipe. It is easy to make but hard to perfect.

              I got Mike Solomonov's shakshouka recipe out of Gourmet magazine a couple years ago and I make it all the time. Again this is really a "soul" dish but it's a great recipe. I don't ever remember it on the menu at Zahav, though.

              1. re: barryg

                easy to make - hard to perfect - agree. i've learned that pureeing the crap out of it helps a lot, as does a topping of of whole chickpeas mixed with tahina, olive oil and various seasonings, but there's just something so... savory about the zahav hummus i have not yet captured. i've tried it all. i even soak the chickpeas overnight and boil them with turmeric and garlic (whose corpse i add to the puree later :). i'm gonna ask next time i visit zahav.

                1. re: rabidog

                  Do you remove the chickpea skins? I know they do that at Zahav. Too much trouble for me.

                  Unrelatedly, I saw that Mike Solo has taped an Iron Chef America battle vs. Jose Garces, that will be fun..

                  1. re: Buckethead

                    This is going to get split onto the home cooking board by Chow mods, but...

                    That is way too much trouble for a home cook (namely, me). I don't know how much difference it makes; on the home cooking boards people seem to think it's not worth it. The "trick" I use is to process the lemon juice, some of the chickpea cooking/can water, and tahani first to emulsify it. Then add that back into the chickpeas and everything else when you process it. This makes a great texture but won't add the savory taste that rabidog is referring to--there probably is a secret ingredient. I may actually try a little sage and a sprinkle of MSG next time time I make it...

                    There are lots of good tips in the user comments section of the Chow "The Basics" hummus recipe.

              2. re: rabidog

                Or just buy Zahav's hummus to go, either from Green Aisle or directly from the restaurant.

                1. re: MLTimes

                  I think they sell it at Bodhi coffee at Headhouse Square now, too. I think it would get pretty expensive to supply a whole party off the stuff however.

                2. re: rabidog

                  Rabidog, he uses butter not olive oil to make the hummus.

                  1. re: tilemaker

                    ahHA, the truth comes out!!! thanks for sharing. i had a feeling that was it, since the top of one of his hummuses is buttered. i'm definitely going to try this next time, along with taking off the chickpea skins (i'm all about labor-intensive cooking!) and pinch of baking soda. that's probably gonna do it!

                    1. re: rabidog

                      I don't think that's true. They do make the one variety with butter, but the others are made with olive oil. I suppose they may possibly add butter, but I know they are not using "butter not olive oil", I mean when the hummus arrives it is swimming in olive oil.

                      1. re: Buckethead

                        Yeah, its true. Not from me, but divulged in an interview with the chef.

                          1. re: tilemaker

                            The hummus-tehina is presented and tastes way too traditional for me to believe this. His Turkish Hummus is made with butter instead of tahini, but that is a different menu item.

                            1. re: barryg

                              ^ that's the one i'm thinking of, the turkish hummus.

                              still, there is something in that hummus masbacha (sp?) that i'm not adding at home & i can't put my finger on.

                            2. re: tilemaker

                              OK, so I was at Zahav tonight and asked the chef specifically about this, he told me in no uncertain terms that the Turkish hummus is, as the menu states, the only one that they use butter in. The other varieties do not have any butter in them.

              3. We have been pleased to visit Zahav frequently over the last few months. Our first impressions of the food and the service were excellent. We have noticed a bit of a slip in both the quality of some of the small plates and a decline in the excellent service, falling to just good. Perhaps this is the newness of the experience wearing off for us. Perhaps it is the reality of a reduction in attention to all details by Zahav. We also love the hummus (especially with the fava beans) and have not had any disappointments in that dish so far and will share your extreme disappointment if we do.