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“Wonderful flavors and wonderful service.”
Review of Zahav

Zahav
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Ranked #3 of 4,461 Restaurants in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $20 - $25
Cuisines: Israeli
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Buffet, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Neighborhood: City Center East
Cross street: Dock Street at Walnut (Between 2nd & 3rd)
Reviewed August 7, 2013

We visit Philly often to visit family and have tried to get reservation in the past, to no avail. This time it was a last minute trip to Philly and we got the reservation.

Our first take on being handed the menu was to have one of everything. Then we got ourselves under control, and agreed we were no fan of Hummus. When the waiter took out order, he asked why we did not order one of the many Hummus dishes. We explained that we did not like it ( I know, why were we at this restaurant... we love Middle Eastern food, other than hummus). Rather than saying we must try one,yada yada yada, he asked about our reasons for not liking it, and then said try the warm Turkish hummus with butter. He gave cogent reasons for trying it. We agreed and were not disappointed at all. It was light and not cloying or overly chickpea in taste and texture. An absolute delight with the Laffa (pita like bread).

Our disappointment was that they just ran out of watermelon salad. Oh well, next time. But, we were in a "protein" mood anyway that night.

We then had the Crispy Lamb's Tongue. I love it, but my wife did not. It was crisply and quickly cooked so that the outside had a crisp crust, while the center was quite soft. If you are a lover or kidneys or liver or other organ meat, this is for you. It had a wonderful, fresh and intense lamb taste, as it should.

Next was the Duck Kebob. This was small balls of ground duck served with a fragrant blueberry sauce. Great combination.

Next, the Veal stuffed grape leaves. Well prepared, and a very nice take on a traditional dish.

OK, there was a vegetable... the Spiced Eggplant. This was the failure of the evening. The sweet eggplant was quickly overpowered by the spice, such that the eggplant lost its distinctive taste. If you like spicy, then go for it, but the eggplant seems more a vehicle for serving hot spice.

Finally, the Kofte of ground beef and lamb. Again, a bit of hot spice, but not as with the Eggplant. It worked much better.

The waiter was quite good in arranging the dinner order, keeping the spice items for last. This way, there was nothing after that would be compromised by the residual heat of the spices. Well played indeed.

Usually we share a dessert, but this time not. My wife had the Ma'amoul (Date Tart) and I had the Kanafi with blueberries (in season after all). Both were outstanding and a perfect way to end the meal. The date tart was not cloyingly sweet, as one may think dates are, and the crust was perfect. The Kanafi was just so good, what more can I say.

But be warned, the portions are quite small. Even the items from the grill are but two or three pieces. So if you are one who packs it away, you may go away feeling disappointed. This is about the intense flavor, and after a while those small plates fill one up.

The wine list is quite extensive and moderate to expensive. It has a great selection of Israeli wines and what was most amazing was the selection of wines from Chateau Musar located in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. We had a bottle of the Musar Jeune red. Absolutely perfect with the food. It is a vibrant, fruity (but not sweet fruit) wine that is not heavy and does not fight the food. Perfect for a summer dinner of flavorful food.

Finally, cannot say enough about the service. As well trained as any wait staff at a Ritz Carlton. Not only our waiter, but the waiter for the table next to us, took the time to explain and advise. They never hovered, but were always at hand. The meal was paced beautifully.

My only complaint is with the ambiance. As with most new, and "in / hip restaurants", there is nothing to absorb sound and the incongruous pop/rock music is a bit jarring and seemingly loud. How about some lovely and soothing Middle Eastern music? Next time some Oud music.

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Thank Ryewit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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968 - 972 of 1,278 reviews

Reviewed August 5, 2013

Wow, what a unique dinning experience. Everything was great. I really liked the Humus. We opted for a bunch of small plates and the royal trumpet mushrooms from the grill. We were daring and had the grilled duck hearts, crisply lamb tongues, and sweatbreads. We also had the fried potatoes and crispy haloumi. I have to say the humus and haloumi were my favorites.

If I lived here I would always be stopping by for a bite.

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Thank Matt P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2013

Today "Zahav" I think is #1 in Philly or very close to be the one

If you like to explore unusual food this place is for you.
Mediterranean food is as best as it can be.
Service is exceptional
This restaurant is not cheap. Location is superb.
Reservation is required, (need to be made at least two week ahead).
Parking is a big problem. If you from Philly consider taxi

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Thank d3316
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 29, 2013

I heard the word "excited" any time we talked about going to our first dinner at Zahav. Yes, it met every expectation. Starting with the salatim, starting with a delicious hummus and paper-thin bread, and then a half-dozen small salads such as shaved fennel, beets, eggplant, green beans & tomatoes, and cucumber. From there it went to mezze, with a really good fried cauliflower with a tasty yogurt dressing, roasted potatoes with spicy peppers and okra, crispy haloumi, and kibbe naya (my favorite of the night) which is raw lamb with black harissa and mushrooms. Then it was on to skewers of Moroccan chicken and ground lamb, both of which were too "Moroccan" spiced for my dining partner, but which I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm sure this will be a place that gets more than one return visit!!

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1  Thank gdadtraveling
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2013

Solomonov has found a way for his customer to understand his history and heritage through a language of flavors mostly unfamiliar to the mass food community in this town, Once you’re seated, expect a crash course in Israeli dining from a well-educated waiter or waitress. Service here was top notch. Everyone and mean everyone had the mantra of service service service. Our waitress helped make our evening so very enjoyable.Zahav’s hummus is a substantial part of the meal, especially when eaten with the accompanying flatbread, which is made to order by a cook who just does hummus. Choosing from the 20 options for hot and cold mezze also takes diners around the world. These small plates show many middle east influence.It is always busy and a bit noisy but I as far as I am concerned Zahave is one my all time Philadelphia Favorites.

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Thank cmpqse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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