Where We’re Eating: Zahav’s New Menu
BY JOY MANNING
Since the restaurant’s debut in May 2008, Zahav has been showered with praise (we named them the best restaurant in town), but chef Michael Solomonov has not let the accolades arrest his evolution. Since returning from a trip to Israel earlier this year, he has been tweaking Zahav’s modern Israeli menu, recently unveiling a crop of inspired new dishes.
A new mezze of stuffed grape leaves are plated on top of a pungent black garlic purée. The black garlic is aged for a year in the sun, fermenting as it turns a rich mahogany and softens to a jelly-like texture. As it ages, complex flavors develop, and the garlic picks up sweet, winey, molasses-like notes. Solomonov simply purées the stuff with a little water to make a sauce that nearly upstages the grape leaves stuffed with rice and veal. Another must-have addition? Sweetbreads breaded with a sesame-seed-studded coating served over a tart, exotic barberry sauce and topped with pickled cabbage, radish, and onion.
During the past year, Zahav has scaled back its schedule of chef’s tasting menus (which were once a weekly event), a situation that encouraged Solomonov to bring some of those more creative, cheffy flourishes to the regular menu. “I’ve never liked the menu so much,” he says. “It’s more expressive now.” The updates mark a subtle shift away from the strict authenticity of the original menu. Some of the old menu’s least adventursome options are gone, replaced by dishes that taste a little more foreign, according to Solomonov. For example, the old lamb skewer featured the familiar cut of lamb loin; the new version features a succulent lamb rib and a tender piece of lamb tongue.
Sound good? Make a reservation, because Solomonov says he doesn’t know when inspiration will strike and the menu will change again.
237 Saint James Place; 215-625-8800.