Saba: Saving the Best for Last in New Orleans

I’m frequently asked my opinion on where to eat in the Bay Area. When friends travel to places that I’ve traveled, they tend to ask me for recommendations on where to eat as well. I’m happy to give advice. I recently returned from New Orleans and I have a new favorite spot that I’m excited to share. They don’t serve gumbo, jambalaya, or fried chicken.

Saba is a new Israeli restaurant from Chef Alon Shaya. I ate at his restaurant Shaya on my previous trip to New Orleans in 2016 and loved it. Since then, Chef Shaya has disassociated himself from the restaurant and opened Saba this past May. Saba is located on Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans.  

I was in New Orleans for the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC). While IFBC had evening food events, I decided to wait until the conference ended to have my last dinner in New Orleans at Saba. I didn’t have a reservation, so I arrived early in hopes of grabbing a seat at the bar. When eating alone, I find the bar is a great place to be situated.  

I shared the bar with a local named Frenchie. He lives in the neighborhood and I could tell right away that he was a regular as he seemed to know all the staff. After I placed my food order, my bartender Kyle introduced me to a Croatian white wine to complement my food. I found it light and crisp with some floral notes. 

I decided to forego the small plates and get an order of hummus and pita bread. There were five selections of hummus to choose from – tahini, blue crab, charred poblano, Brussels sprouts, and lamb. Kyle convinced me to get the blue crab hummus which comes with wood roasted corn, lemon butter, and mint and I was so glad he did. I spread the warm wood fired pita bread into what I thought was the perfect alchemy of flavors. It was love at first bite.  

I also got the grilled octopus which was prepared with shawarma spices and tomatoes. The octopus had a very nice char which enhanced the flavor.  

Frenchie was kind enough to offer me some of the grape leaves with lamb, rice, and zhoug labneh. I thought Saba’s version of dolma was excellent and one of the best I’ve ever had.  Unfortunately, I didn’t snap a pic.

I saved room for coffee and dessert. I was intrigued by the halvah latte so I went ahead and ordered it. I found the combination of halvah and coffee are harmonious together and the halvah acts as the perfect natural sweetener. This creative beverage has me wanting to make my own halvah syrup.  My dessert was called glakotbourko. The semolina and feta custard is baked in phyllo dough and topped with rose flavored melon. It was delicious.  
So when someone asks me where they should eat while they are in New Orleans, I will tell them that without a doubt they must go to Saba.

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When in Philly, Eat at Zahav

Last month I traveled to Philadelphia for a couple of days and I ate some amazing food. The most noteworthy was dinner at Zahav, a modern Israeli restaurant from Chef Michael Solomonov. I had made my reservation weeks in advance, but the earliest time I could get was 9:30pm. I figured it wouldn’t be too bad on my first evening there since I would still be adjusting from West Coast time.  

We were a party of three which I thought was the perfect number of people to share plates with. We ordered the tasting menu which allowed us to try almost everything on the menu. The restaurant is known for their laffa bread and hummus. It was my first time trying laffa bread, which is a middle eastern bread cooked in a wood fire taboon oven. To me it was crisper and had a lot more character than pita bread. The hummus at Zahav was out of this world. It was creamy and nutty with an abundance of flavor.  

Our meal came with six vegetable salads and felt like an Israeli version of banchan. They were all really good and similarly when I eat Korean food, it’s fun to have a variety to pick on.  
We each got to choose two small plates so that ended up being six different ones for us to share. I’ll share my top three mezze plates. I really enjoyed the quinoa salad with fresh peas. I loved the textures and the herbs.  
Cauliflower has become one of the most popular vegetables and the fried variety at Zahav should not be missed.
I was excited about the haloumi as soon as I saw it on the menu. The combination of crispiness and saltiness of the cheese puts me in a happy state. 
We each got to choose a main plate which are all grilled over coals. They were all amazing as well. We ordered the lamb, the hanger steak, and the Branzino.   
The desserts were creative and quite exotic. We ordered the coconut cream konafi, the chocolate olive oil cake, and the malabi custard which had orange, walnut, and saffron.  
This meal at Zahav was all around amazing and an experience for the palette.  I can’t wait for my next trip to Philly!