Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Philadelphia >
Sep 4, 2010 07:51 AM

zahav dinner 9/3 - review

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 still recovering this morning

237 St James Place, Philadelphia, PA 19106

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Nice review - I wish my visit would have been as memorable. It wasn't bad - but nothing save for the lamb shoulder really shined.

    2 Replies
    1. re: uhockey

      Also could have skipped everything other than the lamb shoulder and the wonderful hummus. With all the mezze and the salads, was stuffed by the time the lamb came.

      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

        I don't get stuffed. :-)

        The laffa and hummus was decent, but not Komi level.

    2. Interesting and comprehensive review. Seems we were there the same evening. We have also visited frequently and have become less enamored with the experience. To our taste they do have the best hummus in the city and mix an excellent Cosmo. When comparing them to some of the other small plate establishments they have definately slipped a few places on our favorites list.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Bacchus101

        bacchus, what are your other small plate favorites? and i havent yet had the cosmo, next time....

        seriously though next time you go have the halvah mousse- i think its the best desert ive had in a long time

        1. re: InSearchOfTacos

          That was a solid dessert........but go to Osteria for the Polenta Budino. :-)

          1. re: InSearchOfTacos

            Halvah mousse for desert it will be! No surprises here; we like Amada and Tria. Zahav is a favorite just a bit down the line lately for us.

          2. re: Bacchus101

            Agree with Bacchus

            Zahav seems to loose a little bit of its charm on repeated visits. It's pretty much the same meal every time you go no matter what you order. That said, good food, very good drinks, and a good value.

            1. re: FattyFatMan

              agreed....we have NEVER had any change on the Salatim offerings...all good...but it would be nice to change them up....otherwise...same old..same old!
              we actually stopped in the other nite for happy hour...and half price hummous...before heading to amada for of both worlds!

              1. re: ilovesummer

                have all the mezze dishes youve tried been the same on multiple offerings? im sad to hear that zahav has lost its charm on repeat visits for certain ppl. i have never experienced this- some dishes never change (cauliflower mezze for example), but others that ive had before (kibbe naya) were totally different this time around. and several dishes were brand new to me (moussaka, duck patties). granted i go every few months, i used to live in nyc so this couldnt really be in my weekly rotation.

                i havent actually been to amada in quite a while- ilovesummer, your idea of hitting zahav happy hour before dinner at amada is a great one :)

                1. re: InSearchOfTacos

                  no...i believe that some of the mezza dishes have changed over our visits...tho as a vegetarian...not as many as i would like!!!
                  i am more specifically speaking of the salatim offerings that come with hummous...the eight mini salads have never once changed over the maybe 10 times we have been there in the last 9 months or so....
                  all that being said...i still do love some of their dishes...just think amada is more interesting at this point..esp vegetarian dishes.....
                  and do try the zahav happy hour/amada dinner route.....makes for a fun evening!!

                  1. re: ilovesummer

                    ilovesummer, what are your recommended vegetarian dishes at Amada?

                    1. re: barryg

                      my two favorites so far are the warm fava bean and lima salad as well as the chickpeas and spinach. both sound quite simple yet are amazing!!!! the chickpeas were so intense and smokey that i had to double check that they really were vegetarian!! i also love the mushroom/truffle flat bread! excellent!