When matzo met mushrooms

Eating meat guilt-free is part of the joy for many observant Jews at Citron + Rose, the glatt kosher fine-dining room in Merion Station. And despite the departure of the opening chef crew from Zahav, C+R still serves those destination-worthy dry-aged chops. New chef Karen Nicolas, though, a notable arrival most recently from Equinox in Washington D.C., hasn't forgotten the vegetarians. Her earthy twist on matzo balls is one I can't seem to shake. Nicolas blends ground roasted mushrooms with garlic, herbs, and onions into her matzo orbs, then floats them in a deep brown broth rich with chestnut and celery root. Squash medallions add color to the bowl, served as a hearty entrée. But it's the finishing touch - orange dollops of butternut custard creamed with coconut milk and eggs -that lifts this dish beyond its usual context of familiar Jewish comfort to something altogether unique. - Craig LaBan
Mushroom matzo, $21, Citron + Rose, 370 Montgomery Ave., Merion Station, 610-664-4919.