Sunday, June 5, 2011

Basil, Charleston, SC

One of Charleston's Best Restaurant Gems

The restaurant Basil has been a running joke in our household. I'm always saying I'll go there, but never do. Although we’ve heard nothing but tremendous things about the restaurant, we’ve never had a meal there.  I’m not too big on Thai food, but I thought I’d be a sport and go.  So after countless suggestions of “Let’s go to Basil”, we did so last night. 

Basil does not take reservations and so we thought if we got there before 7:00 we might not have to wait.  Not so much. The restaurant was packed and there was a 20-25 minute wait.  When asked if we preferred outside seating to inside we said that it didn’t matter and our time was moved up a bit.  While window shopping our way through King Street the phone rang and our table was ready.  

Patio At Basil
We were seated at one of the six four-tops outside the restaurant.  Small planter boxes and Tiki torches adorn the patio (and help to keep the bugs away!)  I thought it was going to be very warm with the heat wave we’ve been having, but much to my surprise there was a lovely breeze and it was a wonderful way to people watch as we waited for our server to arrive.

Our server was very attentive, but not intrusive.  He was easily able to answer questions about the menu and made a few suggestions as well.  We ordered our appetizer of Fresh Basil Rolls and continued to peruse the menu.

Orchid Garnish
In sleuthing their website this morning not only is Chef Suntorn an accomplished chef, but he has also traveled the globe. His career started in Bangkok, Thailand and he has worked in England, Paris, United Arab Emirate, Miami, San Francisco and Boston.  The site doesn’t say how he landed here in Charleston, but we’re just glad he did. 

In a bat of an eye our appetizer arrived and we placed our dinner order.  The Fresh Basil Rolls were simple and beautiful.  The “house sauce” was a spicy sweet concoction (Chef Suntorn’s house sauce) with ground fresh ginger floating on top.  The Basil Rolls were delicate and had an incredible fresh flavor that was only enhanced when dipped in the sauce.  I hoped that dinner would be just as good. The website said that all of the dishes and sauces are not made ahead of time but are authentic and made from scratch.  We could really taste the difference.

Fresh Basil Rolls
Our entrees arrived after we had finished the Basil Rolls and had a few minutes to relax.  Perfectly timed, our server delivered the Pad Thai and Crispy Red Curry Duck.

From the website I learned that Pad Thai is the national dish of Thailand.  Who knew? It is rice noodles stir-fried with chicken, shrimp, eggs, bean sprouts, scallions and a Pad Thai sauce. On the plate as a garnish was freshly shredded cabbage, carrots and cilantro with a lime wedge for good measure. 

Having lived in Boston for many years and many bad winters the need for “lunch delivered” was paramount. Often times we ordered “Chinese” and there was a Pad Thai option, which in no way even remotely resembled what I was served that evening.  My dish, which I asked for a little spicy was exquisite.  Not greasy, not oily, with fresh ingredients and a flavor that just jumped off the plate.
Pad Thai

My husband is a big duck fan and Basil’s Crispy Red Curry Duck more than met the mark. Listed on the menu as Chef Suntorn’s Signature Dish it was a boneless half duck that is deep fried with vegetables and red curry sauce.  It is also served with a small container of freshly steamed white rice that was very, very hot.

The duck was tender and the dish overall was one of the best duck dishes that he’s ever tasted.  Both of us were full quickly, but continued to graze a bit before throwing in the towel.  I am a tad embarrassed to admit that some of my Pad Thai was a breakfast reheat this morning…
Crispy Red Curry Duck
I had originally said that I wanted to scout out Charleston’s hidden restaurant gems when I started my blog.  Although based on the crowd and the waiting line, I am late in this discovery, but nonetheless, Basil is a gem. Look for their third location to open in Mount Pleasant this summer.  I know we’re looking forward to it.

Basil on Urbanspoon


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