Friday, December 13, 2013

#26: Zahav

Okay let’s get a few things out of the way first. This is Ryan’s cousin Kenny, guest blogging for our trip to Zahav. I was quite honored when two days before we went, Ryan asked me, or more so told me that I would be doing the write-up/review. Thanks for the heads up by the way, Ryan. To be honest, this should have been done over a week ago, but subconsciously I think I was procrastinating because of the following that 52 First Meals has developed, I did not want to disappoint. She was so annoyed at how long it took me to write this that she took to Facebook and publicly shamed me. 

Ryan invited me to go to Zahav with her because I am the more…adventurous of eaters and the menu offers some not-so-normal eats. She of course arrived before me because it took just about two hours to go 20 miles (man I do not miss driving 76 one bit), almost costing us our reservation. But Ryan adapted well and had herself a glass of wine at the bar (shocker) while waiting. Once we were seated, we both felt a bit overwhelmed by the menu and the options.

Our waitress was fantastic. She offered us a complimentary bottle of sparkling water, which we graciously accepted. Then we were asked if we had dined at Zahav before, which we had not, so she made a recommendation to do the Taymin – Salatim & Hummus, Two Mezze (small plates), One Al Ha’esh (grilled over coals) and One Dessert. It was ample amount of food for the two of us.

The Salatim and Hummus was outstanding. I had never tried hummus before, but Ryan assured me that I would enjoy, which I did. This course was served with House-Baked Laffa (basically an oversized tortilla). Pickled Beets, Cucumber and Dill, Eggplant, Asparagus, and an Israeli salad. Cannot rave enough about what a great starter this was, a good way to dip your toes in the water. Truth be told, we needed a second Laffa to finish off the Salatim & Hummus.


We each chose two Mezze. This is where we decided to be audacious, but ordered one “safe” Mezze’s…just in case. The Fried Potatoes were what you expected, a solid choice - Kashkaval Cheese, Crispy Okra, Shifka Peppers.

Our other safe choice was the House Smoked Sable which was fish and a fried egg served over Challah with poppy seeds. Loved how the yolk broke open as we ate this dish. The sable looked like and also tasted suspiciously like crab...

Next, Crispy Lamb’s Tongue, served with – Snap Peas, Smoked Grapes, Pistachio Tehina, Peaches. For me, the best Mezze we had. To put it simply, it was comparable to a jerky. I did not try it with the sides it was served with, but the Tongue had great flavor.
No picture, sorry kids! Use your imagination......

Finally, Grilled Duck Hearts, served with - Green Chickpeas, Falafel, Amba Tehina. Yes, duck hearts. This was brave and I give Ry all the credit for giving it a chance. The taste itself was great, with a nice smoke from the grill. Our only drawback was that you had to work through chewing it, because with each jaw movement you started to think about what exactly it was that you were chomping down on. 

Onto our Al Ha’esh. Ryan went with the Veal-stuffed Grape Leaves - Pine Nuts, Tomato, Snap Peas. I think I startled Ry a bit when I said that I had eaten grape leaves before and was not a fan. I of course waited until after she put her order in, so there was turning back. But she quickly found out on her own that she enjoyed it. 

I went with the Kofte - Ground Beef and Lamb, Cumin, Peppers, Carrots. Lamb again right? But this was tremendous. If you don’t like spicy, I would not recommend this dish. There were a lot of layers of heat to this plate, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The chickpeas provided a nice balance from the heat.

Somehow we were able to muster up the energy to order dessert as well. I decided on the Carrot Basboosa - Cream Cheese Mousse, Candied Hazelnuts. Basically a fancy carrot cake. A perfect ending to the meal for me.  

Ryan went with the White Chocolate Cake - Poached Pears, Vanilla, Cardamom. A little sweet tooth ending to an out-of-the-box meal.

Overall, I could not encourage you more to go and experience Zahav. The server was one of the best I’ve ever had. She knew she was dealing with a couple of rookies and she took her time when explaining everything and made sure we fully understood. There was perfect timing between each course, which I know Ry is a stickler for. We did not feel rushed one bit. We took our time and enjoyed the food to the full extent.

If you’re still reading, I give you credit. My apologies for being longwinded, it’s a nasty habit of mine. Finally, I know Ry gives a final price. All things included, the bill was $102. Thankfully she had that $50 gift card or I was leaving her there to wash dishes to pay off the rest of our bill.

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