1623 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, Pa 19103
Ideal for: Family Gathering, Celebration.
There are certain names any Philadelphian knows well, like Nick Foles, Gritty, Steven Cook and Mike Solomonov. The last two are known chefs that own some of the most prominent restaurants in the area like Zahav and Abe Fisher. What I love about these restaurants is that they bring the Israeli and Jewish culture to Philadelphia in a high-end way. When my brother and I were brainstorming a place to bring my parents for their 40 year anniversary we first thought of Zahav. We have been there a couple of times, and couldn’t wait to go back. Sadly, we didn’t make a reservation in time and had to find another place to go to. If there is ONE thing you need to take from this article is to make reservations at Zahav in time! And by in time I mean three months in advance.
Anyways, we checked Abe Fisher’s menu and felt that we were reading any Ashkenazi Jew’s (Jewish people whose ancestors are from Eastern Europe) dream list of food. We just couldn’t believe its menu and how close it was to some of the plates we used to eat at home, that we didn’t hesitate to go there for their anniversary.
Similarly to Zahav, you can order its tasting menu for a set price and choose one or two items per section. I highly suggest doing this to be able to taste as many of Abe Fisher’s plate as possible. While you browse the menu, your waiter/ess will bring a savory rugelach (typical Israeli pastry that resembles a croissant) that couldn’t be bigger than an inch long. It comes in an old cigar box that makes the experience even better. That little rugelach was buttery, soft and a little crunchy on the outside, and one was not enough. We asked our amazing waitress to bring us more!
Now, I don’t remember what each of us orders because we all shared everything. The first thing we got was an avocado salad with fresh tomatoes and shaved parmesan cheese. The avocado was both firm but creamy, and it came in a lime vinaigrette that tasted delicious with the shaved cheese. I skipped the tomatoes myself, but I was told they were quite good.
The raw kampachi was by far one of my favorite items of the menu. It is a raw white fish that comes on a watermelon sauce and has chopped cucumber and watermelon on top. The fish was extremely tamed but flavorful, and the citric flavor of the watermelon plus the cucumbers made the whole experience out of this world. It was a mixture of textures and flavors that I am sad I only experience once. It was so good, we ordered a third plate of it. The other fish item we ordered was a white fish salad that comes with lettuce and chicken skin -that we didn’t eat-. Personally, I am not fond of fish salads, but this one, in particular, didn’t bother me. Making a lettuce taco with the salad was extremely fun.
Now, let me tell you that the next two items, although similar, were the highlight of my night. First and foremost, the squash was in to die for. Think of Thanksgiving meets your Jewish suburbia grandmother and there you have it: a soft-inside-crunchy-outside butternut squash with crumble on top sitting on a bed of labneh (similar to yogurt but with a thicker texture because of the whey) and some sauteed leafy greens. You have in one plate all kind of flavors like tart, sweet, salty and a little of garlic with crunchy crumble, soft butternut squash, and creamy labneh.
The sweet potatoes, on the other hand, ruined sweet potatoes for me forever. They were so good that no other sweet potato compares to it. It also came on a bed of cream and had some walnuts to accompany the plate. The potatoes were so soft they melted in my mouth. I can’t put in just words how mouthwatering this plate is. I am telling you right now, order more than two of these!
If there is another item you need to get, like now, is the cavatelli with corn and mushrooms. If you have read other articles on this site, you might know that I am not a fan of mushrooms. But this plate, oh my! The pasta was al dente, something that I appreciated because I didn’t want soft pasta with corn. The cream was very simple yet it absorbed a lot of the mushroom flavor. I loved how the crunch of the corn and the pasta complimented each other, and the cheese on top didn’t hurt at all!
The last two items we ordered were the cheese blintzes and the salmon. I was excited to try the blintzes, but sadly I didn’t enjoy them at all. I never had a blintze with pine nuts inside, and it made the experience weird. The added crunch I liked on other plates was overwhelming on this plate. But the salmon was to die for. It was cooked closer to medium well, and the creamy pesto sauce was quite delicious. If you, like my dad and brother, love the skin of the fish, then this plate is for you! The thick crunchy skin was the cherry on top of this plate.
What I like the most about Abe Fisher is that the flavors of each plate didn’t try to compete with each other. Although very different ingredients were used in each plate, the overall idea was to have some crunch, soft, savory, sweet and tart on each plate. We felt that nothing overwhelmed us as it has happened in other restaurants where we do a tasting menu.
Jewtina Tips: Don’t be afraid of ordering a lot of items, you will eat them all!