522 King St
Paoli , PA 19301
Rating: 3 silver spoons out of 5
Overview: Upscale bistro with Italian-inspired continental cuisine, a creative, ever-changing menu and a vibrant atmoshere. Run by the same folks who own Tango in Bryn Mawr and Nectar in Berwyn.
Food: A wide variety of pastas (wild mushroom ravioli), seafood (grilled wild Canadian salmon) and meats (sauteed veal medallions) make for an interesting, diverse menu. The specials menu changes daily (somtimes only with slight variation), offering 8-10 new entrees each visit. I was tempted to go with the special roasted pork loin with maple bbq sauce, dandelion greens, white beans and applewood smoked bacon, but I instead chose the pan seared salmon ($19), which came with fresh morel mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns whipped potatoes and a buerre blanc sauce. The fish was seared crispy on the outside but succulent and tender within, and the mushrooms and ferns added a nice variety of flavors to the potatoes. The buerre blanc was a tad abundant, but overall the dish was quite nice. My dining companion had the sauteed soft shell crabs ($25), which came over a bed of “tropical” mixed greens. The simple dish was full of flavor, highlighted by the sweet pineapple and strawberries and toasted cashews within the salad. (Still, a bit light for $25).
Bar: Surprisingly excellent selection of beers, including a variety of seasonal locals on tap from the likes of Troegs, Victory, etc. Nice variety of bottles as well, including Spaten, Pilsner Urquell and Anchor Steam. Large wine list with a solid selection of bottles for under $40 (such as Ruffino Classico Chianti for $29) and a few special occasion selections from the cellar (for example, a Cakebread Chardonnay for $80 or a Frog’s Leab Cab for $95). Overall, the bar prices are actually quite reasonable, especially compared to sister restaurants Tango and Nectar.
Ambiance: The main dining room is a large, open air room with lots of natural light. On busy nights, the room can be quite loud. Mostly, however, the bustling, fun crowd is a good thing.
Service: The hostess sat us promptly without a reservation, and even asked us if the table she chose was ok with us (Something that hardly ever happens in restaurants!) Our waiter — Elliot — however, was another story. He was rude, aloof and even downright strange. At times, it was surreal: the first words he said to us were “Do you want sparkling or tap water?” (No “Hi, Good Evening, Welcome”, nothing.) When I replied “tap”, he mumbled ok and walked away sullenly. This interaction continued throughout the night, as he seemed put out anytime we asked a question or asked for something additional. Even when we asked about the menu, he acted like we were being difficult. (Seriously, why become a waiter if you don’t like to help people?) He was also nowhere to be found whenever we needed anything. For example, we had ordered fresh glasses of wine well before our entrees arrived, yet we were still dry when the food arrived. The person who brought our food was clearly a manager of some kind, and showed more urgency in 5 seconds than Elliot showed all night. We asked him about wine and it arrived promptly. I doubt the service as Basil is typically this bad — everyone else we interacted with was plesant and helpful. Hopefully Elliot will be long gone by your next visit.
Value: Pizzas and pastas in the low to mid teens, entrees run from the high teens to the mid 20s. Generally, each dish is appropriately priced. Overall, with a few drinks, expect to pay anywhere from $35 to $55 per person, depending on how much food is ordered. For an upscale restaurant with bar, this is about even with expectations.
# of times we’ve eaten there: 3