I recently was on a trip to see some clients in Philadelphia and before my trip I reached out to my foodie nation and asked where I should eat in Philly. Every single one of them told me to RUN to Zahav! So we made a reservation and started to get excited. This is a very very hard place to get into, so definitely make a reservation or call ahead! Zahav is a modern Israeli restaurant that brings the authentic flavors of Israel’s cultural heritage to downtown Philadelphia
The name Zahav means “gold” in Hebrew, and is a reference to Jerusalem, which has been a cultural crossroads for thousands of years. The design of the restaurant echoes the hidden courtyards of Jerusalem, with golden limestone floors and walls, hand-carved tables, and soaring ceilings.
As soon as my colleague and I entered the building we were treated like royalty. The gracious hostess asked if we would like to dine at the Chef’s table and we absolutely said yes. The Chef’s table was a beautiful counter that was literally connected to the kitchen. We were able to watch the entire kitchen staff work and prepare our meal, which was an experience I haven’t yet had. I have worked in and been in a ton of kitchens, but I have never seen one run so smoothly and quietly. There was virtually no speaking whatsoever in the kitchen, everyone was locked in and knew exactly what to do.
We started out with a pitcher of the ice cold Lemonnana, Zahav’s house specialty and signature cocktail (Jim beam, muddled mint, fresh lemon and verbena). As we sipped on this Israeli bourbon “punch” we ordered two types of Hummus. We had the classic Tehina hummus made with sesame, garlic, lemon, olive oil, cumin, parsley as well as the Turkish hummus made with butter & grilled garlic, served warm. The Turkish hummus was probably my favorite item we had! All hummus is served with laffa bread, which is the soul of Zahav, baked to order in our wood-fired Taboon.
After the hummus, we ordered the fried cauliflower. The cauliflower is served with labneh with chive, dill, mint and garlic, fantastic again! In addition to what we ordered, the Chef sent out the grilled duck hearts which is served with green tomato matbucha, cippolini onion and baharat. I didn’t order this item because I was nervous about eating duck hearts, obviously. But moments later the Chef sent them out anyways, he must’ve heard my scared rant. But boy am I glad he did because they were absolutely magical! After the hearts he also sent out the gorgeous grilled valley shepherd haloumi served with a strawberry amba, pistachio and pickled green strawberries. Also magical!
By this point my friend and I could hardly breathe, but we didn’t come all the way to Philadelphia from South Florida to leave without tasting everything! So we went ahead and ordered the spiced eggplant served with lentils, garlic tehina and vegetable harissa. This was a great dish, the eggplant was smokey, flavorful and beautifully presented. Our last dishes of the evening was the chicken shishlik served with amba and pickled apricot plus the sirloin shishlik served with harissa, red pepper and pickled shipka.
Pretty rare that you go to a restaurant and they knock it out of the park in every single department, but at Zahav it is just business as usual. From the hostess to the server to the busboys, every step of service was a 12 out of 10! I would seriously fly here just to dine at Zahav. Look forward to my next trip!
Chef Michael Solomonov Instagram: https://instagram.com/mikesolomonov/
Dinner: SUN-THUR, 5-10pm | SAT & SUN, 5-11pm
Happy Hour: MON-FRI, 5-7pm