Basil Bistro & Bar, Paoli

December 15th, 2003

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.

Details:
# of times we’ve eaten there: 3
Payments: Cards
Bar: Full
Site: http://www.basilbistro.com

14 Responses to “Basil Bistro & Bar, Paoli”

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  1. cc says:

    now that Maia is closed, what is next for this restaurant group? I can’t tell you how much we miss Basil! Please try again somewhere else with some menu highlights from Basil. We miss the neighborhood feel of Basil – perfect for any night, not just a special night.

  2. DSvr says:

    There is a “contract pending” sign on the building. Anyone know what is moving in?

  3. me says:

    it closed so scott could pay the bills at his failing maia
    thanks scott – for listening to us when we said dont take all the reservations at once. people are leaving unhappy because they have to wait so long
    well now you can have two closed restaurants
    job well done you should be proud

  4. Nancy says:

    What happened to Basil??? It was a favorite of ours. Teir Tuna was wonderful.

  5. Jaime says:

    Had a very pleasant lunch today. My 3 yr old enjoyed the smilie face pizza, I had the warm frizze salad (delicious)and cheddar soup (filling and again delicious). Was not greeted very warmly, I don’t know if the woman said anything other than “Just the 2 of you?”. She then walked away without looking back to see if I was following. Which I wasn’t because my son was picking up his webkins off the floor. The waitress was very nice and attentive. Overall a very nice experience.

  6. Michael P says:

    We have gone here numerous times and we think that the food and the service is great. My wife and I like to hit many of the main line restaurants and out of all of them we prefer Basil. We even prefer it to Nectar. The bar has a great atmosphere with television but only one so it doesn’t dominate the room. Staff was very curtious and respectful. My wife and I along with friends and family will continue to go here. We also recommend Basil quite frequently to people we speak to looking for a good restaurant in the area.

  7. Joan G says:

    My Husband and I were recently guests of a private party and it was my 2nd time at Basil’s. We both enjoyed the food, and although the atmosphere was business, the waiter was very professional, and the food was beyond what we had expected. All in All, a very enjoyable evening. We will definitely make a return visit, and hopefully enjoy .

  8. Matt says:

    I have now been to Basil twice after resisting ever going there and must say I was impressed, although my expectations were low. I think the ‘local-chain’ comment is a fair one. Overall the atmosphere is nice, although it can get loud in the main dining room. Solid beer and wine selections with enough on the menu for the pickiest eaters.

    I can see some people loving and some hating this place. I can honestly say I like it and will be back again.

  9. Jack says:

    Basil is what it is. A reliable evening out. Think of it as a locally owned chain. I have always had a good visit. Food and wine is always up to par. If Basil were in some small out of the way city it would be a destination restaurant. Enjoy it for what it provides.

  10. cheryl says:

    I have to come to Elliott’s defense. He is our favorite waiter and we always hope he’ll serve our table. He is truly a character but once you share his humor, the fun continues the entire evening. He has been at Basil since it’s opening and worked at the previous restaurant at that location before that; a career professional.

    We enjoy the food but the place was too busy the last time we went. Basil needs to make sure it is adequately staffed at all times, particularly at lunch.

  11. Jenn says:

    Won’t go again! We have visited TANGO several times and Basil being in the same family of restaurant ownership, we expected the same quality, value and level of service and received none. Our first ( and last) visit was in March for my spouses birthday – our waiter was equivalent to “Lurch” of Adams family fame, no personality and seemed quite impositioned to be dealing with us.( I stress the first part of the title SERVER = the word serve….should exist in the waitstaff that provide SERVice!) We found the food to be very mediocre for the pricing and the atmosphere to be less than that of a chain restaurant such as Carraba’s. The only thing we have to thank Basil for was a $50 bottle of wine that we found at Total Wine (DE & NJ) for $6.99 to be quite fabulous…. Tango dances all over this establishment.

  12. cyrus says:

    I don’t deny prices have gotten higher since I first started going there, but me, my family and friends love it when we go to Basil, including my one “foodie” friend who frequents all the popular restaurants downtown. For the “nostalgic types”, their pizza is still available and amongst the best on the Main Line and still quite affordable.

    Regarding the “chain restaurant” feel, I personally think it is a fairly elegant surrounding. Its sister restaurant, Tango doesn’t even look anything remotely like it either.

    I do however agree with the comment on their very attentive service and their “Chillean Sea Bass”.

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