Restaurant Review: Brunch at SoWe (Closed)

Confession: I don’t understand the world’s obsession with bacon. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a bacon cheeseburger or BLT from time to time, but those cravings are pretty rare. And, I definitely don’t understand the more off-the-wall uses that people have come up with for bacon (Bacon milkshakes? Sunscreen?).

Still, bacon–and pork, in general, for that matter–continues to be a “thing.” SoWe Bar and Kitchen (918 S. 22nd Street), a gastropub whose name is a nod to its location southwest of Center City and to the fact that its menu places a heavy emphasis on pork products (depending on the pronunciation, it sounds like “sow” or a pig call of some sort) is one such place that has capitalized on the trend.

Once Chester caught on to the latter fact, it went on our list of “to-visit” places for brunch. But, don’t worry if, like me, bacon isn’t really your thing. You will still find plenty of other options to choose from, including carrot cake waffles, stuffed French toast, vegetarian egg dishes, and a variety of sandwiches and salads.

Bacon beignets are one of the restaurant’s signature items (they were even featured on a show called “The United States of Bacon” which airs on a cable channel I’ve never heard of). Applewood smoked bacon is mixed into the dough, which is deep fried and then tossed in cinnamon sugar. The savory-sweet pastries are served warm, with a bacon-caramel dipping sauce. They were definitely the standout item of our meal.

bacon beignets

After debating between a few options, I chose the ricotta pancakes. They were light and fluffy, which make them a good summer brunch dish. The mixed berry compote that stood in for the maple syrup lacked any real flavor, but the berries used as a garnish were fresh and sweet. The menu also mentioned a citrus infused mascarpone, which I couldn’t seem to find anywhere in my dish. I love the way that tart lemon complements the mild flavor of ricotta, so I definitely missed it.

ricotta pancakes

Chester opted for the crab cake eggs Benedict. We were both disappointed that the poached eggs were a bit on the well done side. Everyone knows that runny poached eggs are the best part of eggs Benedict! On the plus side, the crab cakes themselves were heavy on the crab instead of other filler. The substitution of fried green tomatoes for the traditional English muffin and a spicy relish (the menu called it a remoulade, but it seemed too chunky to be classified as that) for the hollandaise gave the dish a bit of a Southern flavor profile. Of course, he couldn’t resist adding on a side of applewood smoked bacon, which was cooked to a perfect crisp.

crab benedict

Although it was not super busy on the Saturday afternoon that we visited, service was a bit uneven at times.  Perhaps it was because the staff was kept pretty busy with the nearly full outdoor seating area, while we were pretty much the only ones who opted for an indoor table (because air conditioning is my favorite thing these days). Still the three servers who waited on us were friendly, in a quirky, hipster-ish sort of way.

Pricing was reasonable and in line with other options in the area. Most dishes hover around the $10 to $12 mark and the restaurant also offers endless mimosas and bloody marys for $16.

Brunch at SoWe was enjoyable, but is on the whole just average. Maybe if there weren’t so many other stellar options in the surrounding area (Cochon is the best place to get your pork fix, in my opinion, and Sabrina’s and Green Eggs can’t be beat for sweet, carbohydrate-laden dishes), it would have stood out more.

The Friday Five: Comfort Foods

Writing about the Dandelion earlier this week got me thinking even more about comfort food. There are just certain dishes that are just so satisfying after a long, cold day or that bring back warm memories of childhood.

My favorite comfort food continues to be a big bowl of pastina—the little star shaped pasta—topped with a bit of salt, lots of butter and milk. My grandmother and mom used to make it for me and my brother all the time when we were little. I’m still convinced that it’s the cure for anything that ails you, whether it’s a bad day to a nasty cold.

It seems that we have had a little bit of a backslide into warmer weather, but I’m still pulling together recipes for when the cold weather decides to stick around for awhile:

  1. Caprese Grilled Cheese (via Alaska From Scratch): I love jazzed up versions of grilled cheese. A simple cup of tomato soup on the side is a must!
  2. Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese (via Saveur): Squeezing the silver foil packet of Velveeta for boxed mac-and-cheese is one of my earliest kitchen memories. This from scratch version actually calls for a bit of Velveeta mixed in with the fancier cheese.
  3. Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf (via Fine Cooking): Enough said. Please see number 2 for the perfect side dish.
  4. Turkey Sausage-Gnocchi Soup (via Cooking Light): This was one of my favorite recipe finds from last year. The gnocchi makes this soup pretty filling so it can be served as a main dish.
  5. Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts (via Bon Appetit): This is easily my favorite brownie recipe ever. I’ve made them a few times and they are so dense and rich that they will stick to the roof of your mouth. For best results, serve warm with a glass of milk or a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting over the top.

 

What are your go-to comfort foods?