Zahav’s Temporary Transformation: The Lamb Shack

If anyone says they heard the term “Lamb Shack” and didn’t immediately start thinking in terms of the B-52’s 1989 hit, they’re a liar. Or they were born in the 1990s. Either way, I probably would avoid hanging out with them, and instead click this link and listen to it while you’re reading along. It’ll bring you along for one of the more delicious rides of my life.

(apologies for the lousy pictures, hate to whip out the DSLR on a date in a fancy resto…)

Having followed Mike Solomonov’s work religiously since I moved to Philadelphia like some sort of food-groupie, when I heard that one of the most coveted dishes in Philadelphia was going to be available to the huddled masses, I immediately called to make a reservation. If you’re not “in the know”, this legendary dish, a whole lamb shoulder, is described better by Adam Erace, so I’d recommend checking out his review. This dish is typically reserved for parties of 4+ and has to be ordered in advance. For the brief month of February, though, Zahav decided to offer this decadent meal to every visitor for a mere $36 per guest (along with the standard fare of hummus tehina, house made pita, vegetarian salatim, and a dessert).

Oh, it’s also BYOB.

Yup, the hits keep coming. But let’s get to the good stuff.

Salatim and hummus

Salatim and hummus

Six different vegetarian sides that almost almost make you forget you’re about to devour a hunk of lamb so rich, so flavorful that you can taste the fields in Colorado where the lamb grazed. My absolute favorite sides were the pickled cabbage and onions, the twice-cooked eggplant, and a tabbouleh salad with pomegranate arils littered throughout. All of this served with house-baked pita that was sprinkled with spices.

Don't worry, I promptly cleared this plate for the main event.

Don’t worry, I promptly cleared this plate for the main event.

But I knew, despite the cloud-like pillow of pita in front of me spread with assorted salads and dips, the best was yet to come. And then…. it came. And it might just be the delicious smells that surrounded me, or the killer 90s soundtrack that blasted through the tented rooms that resembled the inside of some sort of casbah… maybe it was the second glass of Shiraz. But I’m pretty sure that my waiter was briefly replaced with an angel who floated a tray of meat my way.

hubba hubba

hubba hubba

That angel deposited the goods on our table, my date and I shared a moment or pre-meal bliss, and we began to carve our lamb.

One word: Nirvana.

Served on a bed of Persian rice and chickpeas, this hunk of fatty, flavorful, tender and incredibly juicy meat just fell apart at my touch. And then I fell apart with each bite. We tackled as much as we could, but we made sure to hold out a bit of extra space in our tummies.

The grand finale:


Chocolate kanafi – basically a bird’s nest of shredded phyllo dough filled with a melted chocolate ganache and topped with a dollop of passionfruit mascarpone (which was maybe a hint too tart for my tastes). The ganache was like a gentle chocolate lava that oozed into my mouth and filled me with assurance that everything would be okay.

We waddled home, our to-go bag running over with leftovers, knowing full well the glory that awaited us the next morning. Because you better believe, when a meal is this good on a Saturday night…


…Topped with an egg or two, it’s going to be even better on a Sunday morning.

They’ve still got a few reservations if you wanna try to sneak in before March hits Philly (give them a call at 215-625-8800). And if you can’t get in before then, find yourself a handful of friends that dig good food and round em all up. You won’t regret it.

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