Birthday Celebrations at Zahav

It is no secret that I am madly in love with everything that Chef Solomonv has to offer! I even toss out my vegan ways to enjoy his masterpieces!

This year, for my quarter life crisis birthday - nothing could have been more fitting than all-out celebration at Zahav.

My guest of the evening was a bit less of a foodie than I, so when reviewing the menu, I could see his face screaming, "what am I going to eat, these items are foreign to me and not very appealing!"

I offered a suggestion, why don't we order a variety of dishes and share them. This way, you get to try some things that you may have never tried before and vice versa.

Casually suggesting that the hummus was a must but that he could select which of the hummus varieties he would like to try - we went with the Hummus Tehina. Mine came out with a side dish of cucumbers and his with the infamous laffa. To ensure this would remain gluten free I just took my half of the plate before the laffa had the opportunity to contaminate.

We then moved on to the fried potatoes. The fried potatoes where mixed with one of my favorite cheese, kashkaval, and a nice spicy shifka pepper.They had a nice crunch to them on the outside, but retained their creamy insides.

I thought the dish was lovely, but it being a fried food, I will likely not bucket it on the favorite list.

Next up, the favorite dish of the night. The fried cauliflower, which, as I was getting ready to order this, I could see my guest's face - cauliflower was not a vegetable of liking. However, this perfectly fried cauliflower served with basil labaneh (a thick yogurt like sauce) has changed my guest's mind forever - he is looking forward to me trying to make these at home!

For this particular dish, I will ignore the fact that it is fried, and add it to the favorite list, to be ordered for next visit.

People really do underestimate the versatility that vegetables have. It's not always necessary to eat them plainly steamed - or overly cooked and mushy.

The next two dishes were coined our "adventures" of the evening. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised that my guest would so willingly agree to these dishes. We went with the grilled duck hearts and the crispy lamb's tongue.

The grilled duck hearts where actually rather tasty when you first bit into them. The after taste was a little off though...nothing I couldn't handle, just a bit off. The side of falafel was, well like any other falafel, not a firm structure and easily crumbled to dust with a bland taste.

Will this be a repeat dish - sure why not! If someone else was willing and looking to be adventurous - I'm happy to join in, but not sure that I will order it on my own.

The crispy lamb's tongue was just that, crispy. It being my first tongue, I'm not an expert, but I would venture to say that this lamb's tongue was cooked to perfection. Perfectly crispy on the outside and bursting with flavor on the inside - similar to a perfectly cooked medium rare steak.

The last three dishes where our "safe" choices. The veal stuffed grape leaves, hanger steak, and spiced eggplant.

The veal stuffed grape leaves are one of my favorites so I was excited to try the Chef's rendition. I have to say, they were good - but not awesome. Slightly disappointed on this one. They were a little more sweet than I like and the leaves fell apart too easily. My guest was not impressed and allowed me to eat the entire dish myself. I gladly accepted.

The Hanger Steak was my guest's SAFE ZONE. It was either this or chicken that he had his eye one - and why you ask? Most likely because it was the least 'foreign' thing to him. The steak in my opinion was a tad bit over cooked - but the babgnoush had a nice flavorful. This was the dish that I allowed him to have all to himself. Which, he very much so appreciated, as he was in love with the steak.

The spiced eggplant was probably what I looked forwarded to the most. As I have had a number of Chef's eggplant variations before and absolutely loved them! This eggplant dish was fabulous and pretty much everything I had hoped it to be. It was creamy and flavorful and definitely a repeat dish.

This birthday trip to Zahav was everything I could have asked for and more, minus the fact that I did not love their gluten free dessert option and I would have liked to meet, once again, face-to-face with the chef ;)

It was even worth the almost 10pm dinner reservations.


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