One does not have to drive all the way to Bristol to enjoy Turkish cuisine anymore. Konak, on the 200 block of Vine Street (Old City or Northern Liberties - you tell me)has recently opened. While it has many similarities to the Turkish Place in Bristol, it is also quite different. The first thing, is that it is a very attractive place, while Bristol is utilitarian at best. The second is that it has a bar, which makes dining there a little more expensive. Unfortunately, there is smoking allowed in the bar, although they have invested in a smoke eater ventilator. Wait staff wears native costume, but not all are Turkish.
However Chowhounds are interested in what? Chow, of course. I can recommend the red lentil soup - it's great. Appetizers were uniformly good, although small portioned. One exception was the felafel, which was not hot when served (I know, felafel is not Turkish!). In fact, many of the entrees were not served at optimum temperature either. The baked eggplant (Imam firin) was excellent. The doner kebab/iskender kebab was very good (same meat, but one pays a couple of bucks more to get it served on pita bread). The Adana kebab is not spicy, apparently to cater to American's tastes, but without spices it is bland.
All in all, Konak is worth considering. We spent about $80 for appetizer, entree, wine and Turkish coffee. Service was not bad, but not polished either. For example, the bartender was amiable, and knew enough to chill my martini glass, but he did not wipe it out before pouring my drink. When I'm paying $9 for a martini, I don't want it watered. Even with the water, it didn't fill the glass. The woman serving as maitre'de was not particularly hospitable either. Hopefully, Konak will get its act together and will be an asset to Philadelphia's dining scene.
I had an excellent lunch there. At $9.95 for appetizer, entree and soda, it was a real value. So I recommend it for lunch. They also have a Sunday Brunch that may be worth exploring,
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