Sunday, August 14, 2011

Basil, Mt. Pleasant, SC

Was It Worth The Wait?

Basil, a popular eatery located on upper King Street welcomed its newest addition by opening a much anticipated Mt. Pleasant location in late July. The restaurant is stunning and as The Post and Courier reported it seats up to 400 people.

I have to admit that I am a fan of the King Street Basil location.  It’s a moderate sized restaurant, there’s usually a waiting list and the energy is infectious.  As we ventured to the Mt. Pleasant location I was hoping for the same experience.

This wasn’t our first meal here.  On our first visit, our dinner was good, it wasn’t great and we decided to let them get settled in before we blogged about it.  This time we called ahead for reservations and were told that they only accepted reservations for parties or 8 or more and to “come early if you wanted to get a table”.  Which we did. 

Dining Room View
We arrived during an hour usually reserved for the soft food crowd, but were happy that we did.  When I asked for a table by the window the host was more that accommodating, giving me two options.  As I waited for my husband to park the car I perused the menu and enjoyed the view.

The Mt. Pleasant Basil is beautiful.  The restaurant is open, airy and has a considerable amount of outdoor seating.  A team approach prevails.  Bussers, wait staff and managers constantly circle the rooms. We believed that we were off to a great start.

Unfortunately, there we sat.  Although it was not that busy we were not greeted by our server for about ten minutes.  When she did arrive she was pleasant and took our beverage order. When she returned she asked if we were ready to order.

We told her that we’d like to split the Yum Kung to start (a shrimp salad mixed with cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, mint, scallions, fish sauce and lemon juice served over a bed of Romaine lettuce) and then we would order dinner.  Ouch! This did not go over well. Appearing to be stressed from a table of ten she was serving next to us, we definitely did not fit into her routine.  She snarled and went to place our order.  She was not happy with us and it showed throughout the rest of our dining experience.
Yum Kung (Shrimp Salad)

Our salad arrived quickly and although it looked delicious it was not only swimming in dressing but the amount of cilantro used was overpowering. This was quite a disappointment.  Our server never stopped by to check on us so we couldn’t remedy the situation. In fact, we saw very little of her during our time here.

For dinner, I ordered the Basil Tilapia and asked for it to be “extra spicy”.  Our server said, “Well, it is spicy to begin with, but do want it Thai hot?”  Not knowing exactly what “Thai hot” was, I agreed to it.  My husband ordered the Red Curry Pork and also asked for it “Thai hot”. 

As our salad plates were cleared the server waited for us to remove our used silverware and place it on the table. I was surprised that we would not be receiving clean silverware for the various courses. Be that as it may we began to wait for our dinner.
Red Curry Pork

Basil Tilapia

Red Curry Pork Plated
At the nine minute mark our server came by with a container of rice. “Here’s your rice.”  From watching other tables receive their meal ours was the only one that had the rice dropped ahead of time. I had a bird’s eye view of the kitchen and watched as the ticket rail swelled from 14 to 20 tickets.  Somewhere in the crowd was our ticket and I was hoping we’d be served soon.  Ten minutes later our dinner arrived.  Was the rice meant to be an appetizer??

The Red Curry Pork was outstanding. It was nicely spiced and the pork was tender.  My tilapia was also very good, but not very spicy.  When our server circled by I asked her for some of the spices that we’d seen delivered to other tables, which quickly did the trick.

After having such a great experience at Basil on upper King Street, this was quite disappointing. I tried to think why this particular location wasn’t up to par with the other one.  I then thought of both the restaurant chains – Corner Bakery and Maggiano’s. 

Many years ago I went to the original Corner Bakery in Chicago. It was both a restaurant and a small bakery and the smell of fresh baked bread was to die for.  I had a similar experience at the original Maggiano’s.  Customers were on the honor system as they poured themselves glasses of jugged wine, servers wrote their names on the paper table cloths and the food was fabulous.  And THEN restaurant legend, Norman Brinker bought both of the restaurants and turned them into chain restaurants. They were never the same.

So although Basil in Mt. Pleasant appears to be a success, it feels more like a chain restaurant than the downtown location.  Next time I’m craving Thai food I’ll be heading down to the King St. location.

We gave Basil 3 out of a possible 5 plates.

Basil on Urbanspoon


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