On my annual fall visit home to Philadelphia, I had hoped to finally dine at the ever elusive (in the sense it’s near impossible to secure reservations) Zahav restaurant. Well, I struck out once again even after attempting to make reservations more than a month in advance. Thankfully, Abe Fisher is part of the Zahav family. Both restaurants make up the CookNSolo restaurant group which was founded by Steven Cook and famed chef Mike Solomonov. So instead of an Israeli food fix (what Zahav is), I got food inspired by the Jewish Diaspora.
Through its cooking, Abe Fisher takes you from Europe to the New World, places like New York, Miami, and Montreal, where Jewish populations settled in droves at one time. A culinary diaspora, exactly my kind of place.
Located in Philadelphia’s Center City neighborhood, Abe’s was extremely busy on a Friday night. I saw a description that called the inside “snug” and I’d say that was apt. Our table was located at one end of the bar and unfortunately for us, many of the bar’s occupants felt right on top of us since many of them were standing. Provided you have a reservation, I’d definitely recommend asking to be seated away from the bar.
I did order a rather tasty cocktail but I unfortunately forgot to write down its name.
As has become almost the norm anymore at many dining establishments, the menu at Abe’s is divided into small and large plates which they encourage you to share. For myself and my parents, we ordered three small and two large plates (along with dessert) and this was the perfect amount of food. If it does strike your fancy, they also offer a family style portion of Montreal Smoked Short Ribs which, along with the meat, consists of hors d’oeuvres, soup and salad, and dessert ($72 a person, minimum of two people).
For our small plates we ordered the-
Corned Pork Belly Reuben with Pickled Green Tomato ($14). This might have been my favorite of all the courses. It wasn’t your standard Reuben and the pickled green tomato offered an amazing contrast.
Roasted Sweet Potato Boursin cheese, Smoked Walnuts, Long Hots ($13).
This was the course where I felt gluttonous after eating it. I had never had Boursin cheese before (it’s a soft and creamy one) but needless to say this, mixed in with the sweet potatoes, was a very rich and semi-sweetened dish.
We also ordered a green beans dish that isn’t on the menu anymore. This provided a nice balance to the much richer sweet potato dish.
For our large plates we ordered the-
Veal Schnitzel Tacos with Anchovy Mayo, health salad ($24).
The order came with three tacos, one for each of us which was good as they offered a heaping amount of filling. Just like the Reuben, this was another dish where you think you know what you’re going to get taste-wise, and yet you’re still awesomely surprised.
Paprika Roasted Chicken Sausage, Swiss Chard, Schmaltzy Potatoes ($23).
Of the two large plates, I preferred the tacos to this, only because this was a more “standard” dish, there weren’t really any taste bud surprises. The schmaltzy potatoes were a nice side to the chicken.
For dessert my mom and I split a panna cotta dish that is also no longer on the menu (I clearly need to write my reviews faster). This was my only disappointment in the whole meal, as it wasn’t the panna cotta I was used to, but rather much too pudding like (i.e. too thin).
My dad selected the Chocolate Babka sour cherry that came with Pomegranate Seeds and Orange Schlag ($9). He enjoyed his thoroughly but then again, babka is always a good idea.
While I’ve certainly eaten scores of Middle Eastern foods before, it was nice to eat “Jewish food with a twist.” Abe’s offers dishes your bubby would have made, only they’ve been re-spun which is fun and different. If you’re like me and not able to secure a reservation to Zahav, then I highly recommend dining here. Or better yet, just dine here in the first place.
1623 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103