We're feeling faint (in a good way) after dinner at Zahav last night. Though not of the Jewish persuasion, in the spirit of love and unity blogalicious got down with its inner Israelite over weekend at Zahav. Each night of Hanukah, chef/owner Michael Solomonov is dishing up a pre-fixe feast of six Sephardic-inflected courses for only $40. We were shocked there were even reservations available at the last-minute, but through some divine intervention we were able to score a window seat in the bustling dining room.
The meal started with Zahav’s salatim, smoky-sweet Bulgarian peppers, juicy sumac-sprinkled cabbage, fragrant Moroccan carrots and five other tapas, each cradled in the arm of an octopus-like wrought-iron holder. The heavenly hummus followed, simultaneously silky and luxurious, rustic and earthy, accompanied by house baker Wes Johnson’s so-good-it-should-be-illegal laffa. The bread was as springy and chewy and smoky as we remember it from our PW review over the summer. The Sephardic influences radiated through the courses that followed: Spanish bunuelos with leek and mint; pomegranate-cured gravlax over pizza-cut latkes, Moroccan tagine mined with carrots and the most tender morsels of veal on a bed of pearly couscous. Dessert brought airy doughnuts, a Hanukah tradition, streaked with caramel and posed alongside a scoop of insane raisin ice cream. Not studded with raisins, but smooth and creamy, with a haunting raisin essence that soared through the fried dough. Yum. We couldn’t resist ordering one extra course, the kibbe naya, finely ground lamb tartare threaded with allspice. We loved it in the summer. We love it now—and beg to differ with Food & Wine declaring the Zahav’s fried cauliflower one of the best dishes of 2008. The beautifully subtle lamb tartare was clearly robbed. With the extra course, tax, tip and drinks—the bar just premiered a few new ones like the cleverly named Saz-arak—the bill still came to $70 a person. But hey, it’s the holidays. Hurry, the special menu ends tomorrow, the last night of Hanukah.