The letter arrived in the mail last week at Zahav, which many regard as one of the best Israeli restaurants in America:
“Congratulations!” it began. “You’ve been recognized as a PHL17 Top Spots winner for 2018!”
Jubilation! Something to go with that measly James Beard Award that co-owner Michael Solomonov won in 2017 from the James Beard Foundation for outstanding chef in America.
But look closely at the certificate. It names Zahav as best Indian restaurant.
Delhi ... Jewish deli, maybe ... Oy.
What in the tikka masala is going on here?
It was an online public vote gone awry.
PHL17 creative-services director Travis Brower explained that Top Spots asks the public to nominate local business in over 250 categories — one of which was not “Israeli restaurant.”
The I’s on the list include “ice cream,” “Indian,” “Irish,” and “Italian.” (There happens to be a “Middle Eastern” category, which would have been more appropriate for Zahav; the station has not announced all the winners.)
“Our entry forms do indicate that if a category that fits a person’s favorite business isn’t found they can contact us through the website and we will add the appropriate category,” Brower wrote in an email to The Inquirer. “Despite this option, several people nominated Zahav and chose ‘best Indian restaurant’ as the category to get the restaurant listed. Not only was the restaurant nominated by multiple patrons in this category, they then received more votes than any other restaurant in the category to win.”
Apparently, no one at PHL17 bothered to make the connection.
Brower said the runner-up in the Indian category, which he did not identify, would be named the winner.
No comment from the Zahav camp. Perhaps Solomonov is too busy working on a falafel filling for his samosas.