zahav - a must hav

now, i know i throw around the word "best" quite a bit, but this time i'm not the one slinging the word. i recently ate at zahav in old city and, post-meal, discovered i had eaten one of the "best restaurant dishes of 2008" as declared by food and wine. that's a serious title if you ask me!

always one for a bargain, i decided to check out the slightly-above-my-price-limit restaurant during restaurant week, where a price fixed lunch menu was only $20. i really enjoyed the bright and airy quality of the dining room - where 2 out of the 4 walls sport floor to ceiling windows - as a departure from my usual dark and cozy night time haunts.

feeling cheery in the bright light of day, i ordered a "saz-arak" cocktail which had basil-hayden bourbon, st. germain, lemon, orange bitters and an arak rinse. i don't know what most of this means, i copied it off the website, but i can't say i much care because it was SO GOOD. fresh and fruity, but at $11 i had to sip slowly!

the price fix menu started off with salatim (4 small salads) and hummus with laffa, a softer than pita flat bread. the salatim was tiny little portions of smokey tomato okra, roasted spiced carrots, twice baked eggplant and fennel salad. the hummus was amazing smooth. it didn't blow my mind but that's kind of expected, as hummus isn't really a mindblowing dip. it's just creamy, smooth and goes great on pita. zahav has it down, for sure! the salatim were super cute and a couple bites of each went perfectly the the hummus and laffa as an appetizer.

our mezze dishes then arrived shortly after the salatim and we chowed down on fried cauliflower with a dill, mint and garlic yogurt sauce. the cauliflower was insaaanely good, crispy on the outside but still juicy and semi-firm on the inside. definitely my favorite dish of the meal! the other mezze plate was beets with a mustard green tzatziki and crispy shallots. i thought the mustard green tzatziki was really interesting twist on the usual version, but my lunch companion didn't like the leafy texture of the greens in the sauce. (it still got eaten, trust me!)

our "al-haesh" dishes, which means grilled over coals were really good but i was pretty full by this point in the meal. it seemed kind of crazy as every dish was on the smaller side. somehow we soldiered on and were able to eat the Galil: baby eggplant, pomegranate, pistachio, tahini, and a seafood dish that i, of course, took no part in. the baby eggplant was really soft and smokey from being cooked over the coals and the pomegranate was a reduced syrup that really worked with the tahini and pistachios. again - delicious!

(ok, so this isn't the most appetizing picture,
eggplant doesn't photograph too well, but trust me it was banging)

i didn't think i'd even be able to take one little bite of dessert, but again, i had no trouble once it got to the table. I MEAN LOOK AT IT!

i really wanted to go for the baklava, but once we found out about what the "konafi" was, the decision had been made for us. our waiter described it as "the closest you'll ever get to eating a cloud". konafi is basically really finely shredded puff pastry topped with ricotta cheese and fried in a frying pan, then topped with rose water and pistachios. HE WAS RIGHT! it was like taking a bite out of a cumulonimbus. the chocolate semifreddo was like a sort of melted gelato, really soft and creamy, atop a chocolate hazelnut crunchy wafer and candied cumquats (pictured above).

this is the texture of the finely shredded puff pastry

doesn't that sound like an insane amount of food for just $40? it was. it really was. i'll be back, zahav...maybe not until next restaurant week, but i'll be back.


p.s. the waiter told that all of the kitchen staff and some of the waitstaff was flown to israel to taste and see how the food of israeli culture is made. um...it worked.

1 comment:

Amy said...

It sounds/looks so wonderful. Maybe next year I will come up and go there with you! The dessert alone would be worth the drive!