Update: no longer open.
I’ve been wanting to try Divan Turkish Kitchen and Bar simply because their building on the corner of Carpenter and 22nd smacks me up side the head every time I turn on to 22nd to head into Center City. Oh, yeah, there’s a Turkish restaurant down this way!
With a New Year’s Eve party two blocks from Divan, the time had come to check things out.
As we stumbled to find the entrance, we could hear lively music and could see the shadow of a belly dancer twirling on the other side of the curtains.
Oh, god! Belly dancers scare me, yet, if I were a belly dancer, you better believe I'd be shakin' my shit over your plate. Right as we walked in, though, the dancer exited. Phew!
We had reservations for seating at the bar, because that’s what happens when you make reservations at on New Year’s Eve. The bar was full, but a tiny two-top plunked in the middle of the narrow, dimly lit room’s walkway next to the waiter’s station, and inches from a larger table against the wall was open. We took it.
I was very uncomfortable sitting at, basically, another party’s table. If the table beside us had left before we did, we would have had to have gotten up. And a mere eighteen inches on the other side, the server’s non-stop asses bumped into each other at the server’s station for the entire evening.
I was distracted and grumpy about the seating situation. It didn’t help that an accordion player started playing directly behind me, and a tip jar was passed around before we had even ordered drinks. Half a drink later, I settled down.
For variety, we went with an assortment of appetizers and a dessert:All appetizers come wearing one outfit - shredded lettuce, tomato slices, and herb sprinkles. (I'm getting a new camera soon. I hope it deals with low light situations better.)
Imam bayildi - Whole baby eggplant stuffed with sautéed onion, garlic, tomatoes, red peppers, green peppers, parsley, and dill. The eggplant was very tender, but cold from sitting in the fridge. A bland, unexciting dish.Falafel with humus and tahini sauce – The falafel were a little too crispy on the outside, but the inside was very soft. As a vegetarian that gets humus at every turn, I'm disenchanted with this bean dip, in general, but Divan's not-ultra-creamy-but-not-chunky humus texture is more my style. The tahini sauce was sweet, not bitter, and that's what I love. More tahini sauce, please
Mucver – Oven-baked zucchini pancake with yogurt. So soft, you don’t need teeth!Ispanakli borek – Spinach pie. Our server must have misheard our order, because we ordered another spinach appetizer. Oh, well. Or, damn. This was my least favorite appetizer. The dough was rubbery and lifeless – how I’d expect it to act after sitting a day in a take-home container.
Turkish cigar borek - Thinly rolled dough stuffed with feta and parsley. This was my favorite appetizer. Warm feta…mmm.
Firin sutlac – Baked rice pudding. With baked in the name, I expected this dessert to be warm. It was fridge-temperature. This dessert is more of a thick custard, and does not have individual rice grains. The top was very thick, as custards sitting around are apt to develop.
Highlights of the night were the Turkish cigar borek and the tahini sauce. Most memorable from the evening was sitting on top of a clapping and singing table of patrons with server’s asses in my face.Our experience at Divan was hit or miss, and the seating arrangements are atrocious when the house is full.
Divan Turkish Kitchen and Bar, 918 S. 22nd St., Philadelphia, PA, 19146
Open Noon-11 p.m., 365 days a year