Endless Road Trip, Philly: Chicken Schmaltz Rugelach
This savory, fat-filled take on the classic Jewish pastry is just the amuse bouche at Abe Fisher, but it’s a perfect introduction to Chef Michael Solomonov’s unique new restaurant, where he explores inventive takes on foods from throughout the Jewish diaspora. Solomonov offers a tiny, flaky take on the rugelach cookie and fills it with schmaltz (clarified chicken fat, a Jewish traditional ingredient usually used for frying or spreading on bread). It may seem like a gimmick, but it’s one of those gimmick-seeming things that actually work, and makes you wonder why they ever put chocolate in these doughy pastries when pure chicken fat works so much better.
Elsewhere at Abe Fisher, the borscht tartare is a deconstructed beet dish topped with trout roe, hard-boiled egg and onion potato chips (any dish that has both caviar and chips wins my vote). The smoked sable cakes are a crispy, crustacean-less Kosher answer to Maryland crab cakes, bursting with the surprisingly effective combination of Old Bay and dill, while the requisite Kosher-busting piggy dish subs pork belly in for pastrami on a delightfully cheesy rueben. Even the simplest dishes here impress, like a side of warm and juicy carrots amped up with aged gouda, little bits of pumpernickel bread pudding and savory prune butter. Overall, one of the best new restaurants in the country I’ve been too lately. Also, it’s March and still like 10 freaking degrees. Can I get some more chicken schmaltz in here please?
(Photo: Yelp / Melissa P.)