On This Night, We Recline: A Cooking-Free Philadelphia Passover

Restaurants are hosting seders with menus combining tradition and innovation


Different families celebrate Passover in different ways, but there’s no mistaking that at the center of every seder, there are stories and food. Whether your family's style is to have a multiple-hours-long service before the meal or a hustled-through Haggadah reading while snacking heavily on hard-boiled eggs, parsley, and matzoh the whole way through, hopefully a heap of kugel and a mountain of brisket awaits you on the other side.

If you can’t be with family this year, or you hate cooking, or nothing’s as good as your Bubbe’s gefilte fish so why even bother, a number of Philadelphia eating establishments are ready to hook you up with all the classics (and a few twists, as well!) to make this a Pesach to remember.

The London Grill in Fairmount is playing host at their second-annual Seder Dinner, a $40 four-course prix fixe meal, on Monday March 25 and Tuesday, March 26 (call for reservations). In addition to the classics, the menu will offer innovative, seasonal additions like braised lamb shank with preserved lemon, a spring vegetable stew, and horseradish-crusted salmon. Quirky Passover-themed cocktails (The 11th Plague sounds particularly intriguing: Manischewitz with walnut liqueur, vodka, rhubarb bitters, horseradish, and a matzoh crumb garnish) will be available, as well as a number of imported Tabor wines. All of this can also be ordered à la carte until April 1.

Manayunk’s Zesty’s is preparing a menu that is simple and straightforward: your choice of gefilte fish or smoked salmon, a bowl of homemade matzoh ball soup, and beef brisket, roasted leg of lamb, or roasted chicken for the entrée. Macaroons or apple strudel are unfussy, sweet endings to the meal. The dinner, available March 25 and 26, is $35 per person.

If there’s one place in Philly you might expect an elevated seder, it would be Zahav, the city’s premier Israeli restaurant. Chef Mike Solomonov has added creative flourishes and thoughtful flavor combinations to this year’s Passover Mesibah menu that are surprising and delightful. The dishes are firmly rooted in tradition but sing of spring: salt cod cakes with pickled cucumbers, English peas, and horseradish; matzoh brie with sautéed chicken liver and charoset; and a whole grilled chicken with artichokes and fava beans. This gorgeous sounding menu is $48 per person, and runs from March 25 to April 2.

Chef Mitch Prensky, of Supper, has compiled an extensive list of choices for their fourth-annual Supper Seder, offered March 25 and 26. The meal will start, familiarly, with hard-boiled eggs and charoset for the table. From there follows a slew of dishes with an emphasis on farm-fresh ingredients; the "My mother’s 'world famous' (she swears!) brisket of beef with sweet potato, carrot and apple tzimmes cider macerated fruits" sounds especially tempting. Plus, who doesn’t love when a chef gives a shout-out to their mom? This five-course dinner, plus sides to share (latkes!), runs $58 per person, and $29 for children less than 12 years old.

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Vegetarians and vegans, fear not! Miss Rachel’s Pantry has lots of delicious, cruelty-free catering options on deck for you. Matzoh ball soup with carrots, herbs, and celery; lentil-walnut pâté; "cheesy" sweet potato kugel with apples and dried cranberries; and tempeh shepherd's pie are all prepared without one trace of animal products, and made with love. The entire menu or items à la carte are available for delivery, or pickup from her South Philly headquarters. Call the shop for prices and more info.