In this out of town edition, we take you to an edgy Israeli restaurant perched atop a plaza overlooking the historic Old City neighborhood of downtown Philadelphia. James Beard Award Winning Chef Michael Solomonov, born in Israel, also pulls from Morocco, Turkey, Yemen, Lebanon and Egypt to create a memorable feast of small-plates style dining.
Zahav, which means gold in Hebrew, leaves a great first impression by bringing out a selection of Middle Eastern salads known as salatim. The selection ranges from smoky eggplant to spicy fennel and is a bit reminiscent of the “banchan” snacks you receive at the start of a Korean BBQ meal.
The Best Thing on the Menu: Crispy Haloumi with Golden Raisins, Carrots and Pine Nuts appears in the “Mezze” section and can’t be missed. Haloumi dates back to the Medieval Byzantine period, originating in Cyprus. Made from sheep and goat milk, this cheese was born to be grilled (or fried) because of its ability to withstand high heat without melting. It’s traditionally served with watermelon or mint, but the possibilities are endless.
At Zahav, very salty crispy haloumi is paired with a sweet, golden raisin compote. The sweetness and the saltiness together are a match made in heaven, much like the salted caramel craze sweeping the nation.
It’s important to eat the BTM immediately when it arrives at the table or else face a significant change in consistency.
Zahav is fine dining at its finest, but with reasonable prices and a lot of personality. For $39 you can feast on salatim and hummus with fresh pita, two selections from the “Mezze” section, one grilled dish from the “Al Ha’esh” category and finally, a creatively concocted dessert. We recommend the Halvah Mousse with Chickpea Praline, which is made from tahini and has a nutty taste. Paired with berry jam, this dessert is an adult peanut butter and jelly sandwich that even those with nut allergies can eat!
Crispy Haloumi not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section