Restaurant Review: Abe Fisher and Dizengoff

Photos by Jason Varney

Abe Fisher | Photos by Jason Varney

On the first evening of Rosh Hashanah this year, BuzzFeed posted a video called “The Jewish Food Taste Test.” In it, Gentiles sample iconic Ashkenazi dishes. Gefilte fish comes first. “It’s like a cold sausage with sour paste on the top,” one goy cringes. “I’m not quite sure what meat it is,” confesses a hoodie-clad Asian dude. A vaguely Nordic-looking hipster delivers the kicker: “It tastes like a grocery store smells.” Suffice it to say that these people were not eating the gefilte fish on offer at Abe Fisher.

Chef Yehuda Sichel, a longtime loyalist of Abe Fisher co-owner Michael Solomonov, stuffs rainbow trout with a delicately nutty forcemeat of striped bass, smoked trout, walnuts and matzo. After poaching the trout whole, he cuts them into what amount to three-inch-thick boneless steaks, crisps the skin, and glazes them with a sweet reduction of carrot juice and port wine. Smoked Hungarian pepper wafts from a slaw of carrot shreds and pickled raisins piled on one side. Underneath it all is a subtly mustardy puree of butter-roasted carrots, accented with horseradish—lest anyone complain that the “sour paste” is missing.

Read more about Abe Fisher and Dizengoff » 

Michael Solomonov and Marc Vetri on Being a Celebrity Chef in Philadelphia

Marc Vetri and Michael Solomonov. Photograph by Dustin Fenstermacher

Marc Vetri and Michael Solomonov. Photograph by Dustin Fenstermacher

[Sitting in Vetri’s recently renovated upstairs private dining room]

Michael: Wow, look at this. I used to sleep on a cot in that corner.

Marc: Yeah, it used to be this crappy apartment.

PM: When Michael worked for you, Marc, did you notice his talent right away? Can you spot talent?

Marc: I used to think that I could really figure folks out when they walked into the kitchen. But after a certain amount of time — ya know, two months, three months — they can walk out and you never see them again. They leave their knife bag and everything. They are just gone. So I really don’t think I can say that anymore.

Michael: It’s a generational thing, because when you and I first met, there certainly wasn’t anything like that happening here. Read more »

SPOTTED: Questlove at Abe Fisher

Stopped by #AbeFisher during the @Forbes #30Under30Summit its a must experience if you like fine dining in #Philadelphia

A photo posted by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on


Questlove was back in his hometown yesterday for Forbes Under 30 Summit and stopped in for a meal at Abe Fisher. Questlove is quite the food aficionado also ate a fried chicken and waffle ice cream sandwich at the summit yesterday.

Abe Fisher [Foobooz]

How Israel Got Huge

Lunch rush at Dizengoff | Photo by Michael Persico

Lunch rush at Dizengoff | Photo by Michael Persico

You’ve got to understand something about Israeli cuisine right from the start: It’s not something that existed in the American consciousness a few years ago.

Really, it’s not something that exists there now. Not in most places. You’ll find a few spots in and around New York where Israeli dishes get to shine. And there have always been delis where you could get your brisket and your matzo ball soup, but that’s more about Jewish cuisine than it is Israeli. Like the thing about thumbs and fingers, all Israeli restaurants are Jewish but not all Jewish restaurants are Israeli.

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The Menu at Abe Fisher

abe-fisher-logoMichael Solomonov’s Abe Fisher will be opening on Tuesday, September 2nd. Co-owner Steven Cook says “everything from Montreal-style smoked meat and Ukrainian borscht to the American Jewish tradition of Chinese food on Christmas is fair game” for the restaurant that celebrates the Jewish Diaspora.

The Sansom Street restaurant next to Cook+Solo’s Dizengoff and across from Federal Donuts will have seating for 50 plus a full-service bar that seats ten. Two kitchen counter seats will offer a front row view of the action on the line. These seats will be available nightly for walk-in guests.

Read more »

Michael Solomonov in Esquire

solomonov-suaveMichael Solomonov has certainly been in the news lately. From his story of battling addiction in the New York Times to the buzz created by Rooster Soup Company and opening two new restaurants, the chef has been keeping a high profile.

And now he’s featured by Esquire in a feature of 22 men who are redefining style across America. Solomonov is shown wearing a Giorgio Armani wool suit at the Reading Terminal. We’re much more used to seeing Solomonov in chef whites or board shorts but have to admit, he cleans up nicely.

Another Philadelphia connection in the list, former Eagles linebacker and bow-tie enthusiast Dhani Jones makes the list.

22 Men Who Are Redefining Style Across America [Esquire]

Today: Michael Solomonov On The Radio

solomonov-940

WHYY’s Radio Times is bringing in Michael Solomonov today to talk about Israeli food, donuts, the loss of his brother and his recent admission that he was addicted to crack when he opened Zahav.

Marty Moss-Coane is giving Solomonov a full hour to chat, so the odds are good that we’re going to hear lots of stories both about how he got clean and how he’s been almost single-handedly responsible for bringing about a mini-boom in modern Israeli cuisine. So if you’re a Solo fan, tune in at 11am this morning and give the man a listen.

Michael Solomonov [Radio Times]
The Inimitable Michael Solomonov [Philly mag]

Michael Solomonov Reveals That He’s a Recovering Crack Addict

Photograph by Mike Persico.

Photograph by Michael Persico

Last July, Michael Solomonov sat down with Philly Mag’s John Marchese and revealed that he’d battled addiction problems:

[Solomonov] told a story of spiraling into alcohol and drug abuse and how people close to him pushed him into detox and rehab. He now has several years of recovery and sobriety behind him. Solomonov later agreed to talk publicly about his addiction, but only in general terms. “At some point in my life, I’ll be very upfront about it if I can find a way to make it helpful,” he told me. “Because of my responsibility to other people in recovery, I need to figure out how I’m going to be more specific and more detailed. But I’m not ready to do that right now.” In a world of graphic addiction memoirs written by teenagers, Solomonov’s reticence is refreshing.

Solomonov has obviously decided it’s now time to come clean about getting clean. In today’s New York Times, he tells columnist Frank Bruni that he was “living a double life” when he opened Zahav in May 2008: Read more »

First Bite: Dizengoff

dizengoff-hummus-940

Michael Solomonov’s hummisiya, Dizengoff softly opened today. We were on hand to snap some photos and of course try out the hummus. We ordered the Hummus matbucha for $10. The hummus is topped with Moroccan cooked tomato-pepper salad and a slow-cooked egg. It reminded me of a hummus version of shakshuka and that was exactly The order comes with three side salads and a piece of pita, piping hot, right from the oven.

The food was plenty for lunch and the pita was just about enough for all the generous serving of hummus.

More on Dizengoff » 

Michael Solomonov’s Dizengoff Opens August 11th

dizengoff-squareDizengoff, Michael Solomonov’s hummusiya will open on Monday, Augst 11th at 10:30 a.m. The spot at 1625 Sansom Street will serve four varieties of housemade hummus, freshly baked pita and seasonal salatim. The plates range from $9 to $11 and all include two pitot (the plural of pita), two seasonal salatim and Israeli pickles. The 25-seat hummusiya is named for the boulevard in Tel Aviv and will also offer a variety of non-alcoholic drinks including frozen Lemonanna, Coke, Diet Coke and San Pellegrino Pompelmo. A rotating selection of craft brews will also be available as 12-oz. drafts for $4 each. Solomonov, who says “we’ve always known that we wanted to open a hummusiya similar to the ones you find everywhere in Israel.” “We make our hummus so often throughout the day, it’s never even refrigerated.” Abe Fisher, the next door restaurant “inspired by the Jewish Diaspora” is also moving towards completion date and should open by September 7. Check out the menu » 

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