By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 22 | Posted May. 3, 2012

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Divan Turkish Kitchen transformed into SoWe, a South of South gastropub that made its debut last week.

Six years ago, Divan Turkish Kitchen opened at 22nd and Carpenter streets. It was one of the first restaurants in the South of South neighborhood. Our delicious dinner ran the gamut from tempting mezze to lamb entrées. Divan’s congenial owner told us he did the construction work with his dad. He also proudly said Turkish cuisine is the finest in the world.

I would not go that far, but the foods of the Eastern Mediterranean are tasty when prepared properly, so I was surprised to read Divan was going to be turned into a gastro pub called SoWe. Does South Philly need another pub where beer reigns king when Turkish foods filled the culinary gap in South Philly?

My sister Sandy and I arrived around 6:30 on a balmy evening. Tables set outside were quickly filled. We ventured inside and were seated at a highly polished table for two in the bar area.

Our server told us SoWe stands for southwest because of its location. OK, that makes sense, but it is a strange name for a pub.

Allagash White ($6) is on tap and is a light, refreshing wheat beer that Sandy at first thought was lemonade because of its pretty yellow hue.

The menu is a friendly mix of appetizers, salads, a soup of the day, sandwiches and platters.

The roasted eggplant and yogurt dip appetizer ($7) looked like hummus and tasted like hummus. It did not impart the smoky flavor, which is the hallmark of this mezze. Still, we enjoyed it and smeared the creamy dip on fresh, warm pita bread triangles. Five thin English cucumber slices were also on the plate.

The grilled artichoke hearts ($8) were nicely done. There was a proper mix of olive oil and lemon juice that dressed them well. Baby and globe artichokes are in season now, so many restaurants are serving them. A few strips of roasted red peppers and a bit of Parmesan came with the appetizer.

From the salads, we selected roasted golden beets ($8.50), which was on the small side, but delivered a fine balance of flavor and texture. Yellow beets were roasted, cooled and sliced into bite-size pieces. A few haricot verts were scattered on the salad for color and crunch. We liked the use of lola rosa, a deep purple sturdy salad green that was a first for Sandy. Like the artichokes, the dressing was in perfect balance — a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, chopped hazelnuts and tangy Asiago cheese.

We saw burger after burger arriving in the dining room. A big, juicy, hefty burger pleases me in a pub. SoWe’s version ($11) did not disappoint. I think it was one of the best burgers in town. It arrived medium-rare topped with melted cheddar and strips of crisp thick-slab bacon on a soft, seeded bun. So many places skimp on the bacon but not at SoWe. We demolished a pile of hot, completely-free-of-grease, slightly-salty fries with ease.

The desserts need more attention. The chocolate mousse ($7) was warm, thin, runny and overly sweet. Neither Sandy nor I could eat it. Our server whisked it away and the hostess brought me complimentary mango and apricot sorbet, which hit the spot. It was not overly sweet, and was cool and refreshing. Four chocolate truffles were glorious and obviously homemade. The key lime tart ($6) imparted a grainy texture when it should be silky smooth. Sandy liked it better than I did.

Service was attentive yet took a bit of time because SoWe was doing a brisk business, inside and outside. It is catering to the neighborhood, which is growing with new construction, and bringing people into this part of South Philly that was once a culinary desert.

Two-and-a-half tips of the toque to SoWe. SPR


918 S. 22nd St.

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Comments 1 - 22 of 22
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1. Anonymous said... on May 3, 2012 at 08:24AM

“Yeah, it was a 'culinary desert' since it was dangerous to even be in the neighborhood for more than 1 minute.”

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2. Anonymous said... on May 3, 2012 at 10:04AM

“SoWe has an exciting menu, along with a cocktail list that has a drink for every occasion. The staff are warm and treat you like family. It is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood and a great change from SideCar. Happy to see that SoWe kitchen is open till 1am.”

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3. Jim Hudson said... on May 3, 2012 at 06:09PM

“Anonymous #2: You are so obviously a shill for this restaurant that it makes me retch. How can you sleep at night after writing such phony praise? It's really just a form of lying. How insulting you are to our intelligence, that you think we might believe you are a customer.

As for your sophomoric prose:
Is the menu really "exciting"? Do people jump up and down when they open it?
Is there really a drink "for every occasion"? How about for celebrating one year since my hernia operation?
Is the staff really "warm"? Do they kiss you on the lips when you arrive?
Do they really "treat you like family"? Do they have you do the dishes after the meal?
Is it really a "wonderful addition to the neighborhood"? So Divan Restaurant and those terrible Turkish people were not?
And you're "happy to see" it's open till 1 am? Why? So your staff and customers have a better chance of getting mugged at closing time?

No thanks to your sham post. No thanks to your restaurant.”

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4. DEVOtee said... on May 4, 2012 at 08:23AM

“Haven't been reading comments for awhile -- wondering whatever happened to Edward and you are not again stepping out with 20-something gentlemen....all of your meals seem to be with sister Sandy...”

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5. Edward said... on May 4, 2012 at 11:55AM

“Not to worry, DEVOtee. Did you see the comment above that says "a cocktail list that has a drink for every occasion"? Did you know this week is the 30th anniversary of drinking my first Rob Roy? Come join me here at SoWe to celebrate the occasion! (glug)”

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6. Phyllis Stein-Novack said... on May 4, 2012 at 01:16PM

“My review next week was dinner for two with my husband Edward.”

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7. Roger said... on May 4, 2012 at 01:37PM

“Does PSN really reply to this insanity?”

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8. Anonymous said... on May 4, 2012 at 07:58PM

“where is edward?”

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9. Jim Brown said... on May 4, 2012 at 08:38PM

“Do I sound as phony as Jim Hudson's phony name with Jim Brown?:))
What's your hidden agenda Jim Hudson? You sounded so upset about reading SoWe's success in such a short time? Which one of the bar do you own in the neighborhood?
I will disclose my name if you tell us why are you so upset about this review?
It didn't sound like the owner wrote it.:))
F***ing loser.

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10. BMK said... on May 5, 2012 at 01:55AM

“I'm with you, Jim Hudson. Clearly that comment was written by someone affiliated with SoWe. It just seems like wasted effort since he or she was trying to manufacture a good reputation through a cult comedy column.”

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11. Jim Brown said... on May 5, 2012 at 03:54PM

Jim Hudson, you may really think that people are stupid.
So you agreed with yourself as BMK:)))) you stink man.
How could it be any more obvious that you don't want another successful business around the neighborhood.
There is always at least one a**hole in every society. You are either one of them or you own a bar around here.
I dare you, let's get our infos disclosed by South Philly Review and find out who is who. If we all agree they will do it. Even with your fake email address we can find out who is who with the IP addresses.”

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12. Legion said... on May 6, 2012 at 03:43AM

“There is no stopping us Jim Brown- we are Legion; we are many.”

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13. Richard Burke said... on May 6, 2012 at 09:28AM

“Odd to read personal attacks against a food reviewer. Nonetheless, I intend to have a meal at SoWe based on hearsay from satisfied customers who happen to be my friends. Meanwhile, I think that Divan has moved to Northern Liberties//”

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14. Anonymous said... on May 6, 2012 at 10:48AM

“I think Divan's chef is running Divan on 6th street between South and Bainbridge streets.

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15. Fred Foodie said... on May 6, 2012 at 10:51AM

“Richard, did you ever try "Dick" as a nickname? It's less pompous and not "odd to read" here in America. Odd To Read, as in your old man's writing style. "Nonetheless" I intend to skip this restaurant "based on hearsay" from commenters above who seem to know more than you do. "Meanwhile" the former owner of Divan is on record saying he's out of the restaurant business, and the new Divan in Queen Village is being opened by a former chef at Divan I. Enough of your "hearsay", Dick.”

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16. Anonymous said... on May 6, 2012 at 11:05AM

“"Where is Edward" indeed! He's a died-in-the-wool Phillies fan, which means he's surrounded by empty beer bottles with Chris Wheeler droning in the background. Just don't ask him what the score is.”

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17. Anonymous said... on May 6, 2012 at 03:06PM

“Guys, don't make good comments about this restaurant there is some who has many fathers, gets upset about them.:)))

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18. Anonymous said... on May 6, 2012 at 06:11PM

“Anon 17, what is the meaning of "there is some who has many fathers"?”

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19. Anonymous said... on May 7, 2012 at 08:52PM

“In post number 11 the word "a**hole" is used. I have notified the moderator that it is offensive, but no action has been taken. Is this really the kind of language we want in our small, family, neighborhood paper? Is such a word. Necessary in a restaurant review? Not in my opinion. So to make the point I repeat the offensive word in caps below. Maybe that will getmthe attention of the moderator:


Qouting post 11:
There's one A**HOLE in every society. There's one A**HOLE in every society.


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20. Becky said... on May 9, 2012 at 02:18PM

“We went for dinner last night and they must have fixed up that Key Lime tart since you were there, because it was the BEST key lime pie-esque thing I've had since my grandmother passed away. DIVINE! I will go back just to eat it over and over and over.

I was a big fan of Divan, but this is an acceptable replacement. Although, much pricier.”

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21. Kate said... on May 11, 2012 at 11:53AM

“SoWe, yes is somewhat overpriced. But they have great cocktails and the buffalo shrimp is good. I would classify it as a good place to take my mom when she comes into town. With that being said. I don't know where the people who call this area 'dangerous' live? Unless you're plain racist, there is nothing dangerous about the area. I walk around alone all the time and haven't felt threatened once. Grow some balls.”

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22. Anonymous said... on May 25, 2012 at 03:13AM

“Thanks Kate
Great point.”


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