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Restaurant:  Zahav

Address:  237 St James Pl, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Food:  Modern Israeli

Price:  High (but not as high as you think)

Portions:  Small, but many

Taste:  Exotic

Service:  Top notch

Atmosphere:  Nice, but dark

So I had heard lots about Zahav and had never tried Israeli cuisine.  My brother and his girlfriend bought me and the missus dinner there as a Christmas gift, so I was stoked to go.  Zahav has a sampler dealer for $46 per person that includes desert.  It did not, however, include what turned out later to be $5 iced teas, but they were really good, flavored with mint and sour cherry.

We had, literally, almost everything on the menu in tiny amounts for four of us.  I’m just going to talk about the highlights.

The Hummus is, of course, outstanding.  They had fresh pita bread to go with, but I didn’t think it was enough.  We weren’t offered more, although there was this pickled veggie thing that I asked for a second bowl.  There were all sorts of little salads of broiled Brussel Sprouts, fried cauliflower, turnips, spicy eggplant and more.  It’s a credit to the chef that he can take some veggies that I never eat and make them into something tasty.

My favorite bit was grilled duck hearts.  Holy shit, dude.  Fantastic.  Tasted like bacon, mixed with the softest steak you ever ate, mixed with duck.  Mind-blowing.  The worst was the Branzino, it was a little fishy.  Not great.  Everything else I liked a lot.  Sirloin Shishlik, Cobia Tartare and Kibbe Naya, the last of which was raw lamb.  Very exotic and I was kinda full at the end, but I had had a very late lunch.

Overall, I liked it, thought it was interesting, but ultimately overrated.  I had some friends go and they raved about it.  I suspect they were also into the cocktails, which I don’t drink, so—  I definitely think you should try it.  It’s certainly fancy, although the music was weird.  I wouldn’t mind going to another Israeli place to get a comparison.  I might go again just to try the stuff I like, if I remember what they were.  Then again, I prefer sushi and although the Cobia Tartare was pretty close, getting dinged for iced teas and no extra pita bread was a little lame.

Still, it was a positive experience.  I give Zahav 7.5 keggers out of 10.