I was wined and dined at the Basil Cafe in Saint James, New York yesterday by our good friends Ken, Bebe, and Will. This is a Persian and Mediterranean Restaurant. The restaurant is owned by a husband and wife.
From the the small exterior, you would never expect such capacious space for seating with their newly built outdoor patio just behind the restaurant.
This is a BYOB restaurant, so if you want wine, bring it; they even encourage it here. Jennifer, Sam, and I met Bebe, Ken, and Will here after Bebe had been raving about this place for well over a year or more. They were very excited to have us join them and share in their favorite North Shore restaurant.
The three of them were already seated and had not one but two bottles of Menage a Trois wine chilling in a ice bucket next to them. It is a terrific wine at about $10 a bottle. This is a Pinot Grigio that is very nice to drink on its own. I nonetheless was hungry and looking forward to dinner here.
Before we even ordered, the dish below was brought to our table.
I don’t even think anyone even looked at the menus when the waitress was there asking if we wanted an appetizer. Having listened to Ken and Bebe’s tales of their culinary adventures here, we all knew, aside from Jennifer, what we were having to eat last night. Bebe’s favorite appetizer is the Hummus served with a lightly seasoned flat bread, carrot sticks, and celery, so we started with that. As usual, everyone loved it but me. I found that there was a bit too much Tahini in it for my taste, as I do not like the extra peanuttyness (my own word) that everyone else did. They however liked it so much I would recommend trying it. It did go excellent with the wine. We were so busy talking we didn’t even finish it, so Bebe had it wrapped up for us to take home.
Before the appetizer pictured above was gone, our waitress had returned; she was a lovely and affable woman, and came to take our dinner order. Bebe, Sam, and Will all ordered the Rack of Lamb and Basmati rice (non Jeweled). Ken and I both ordered the Lamb shank. They don’t always have this, so it is a true treat when they do. This also comes with a large portion of saffron rice, and we also did not get it “jeweled”. If I remember correctly, and I probably don’t, jeweled rice is where the chef adds sautéed onions and peppers to the top. I will try this next time. For now, I wanted to taste it the way Ken and Bebe enjoy it. Jen ordered the strip steak.
When our meals came to the table, they looked beautiful.
These dishes were ALL as good as they looked. I do not get to eat lamb as often as I would like, and this lived up to everything Ken had boasted about in previous conversations. It is probably no surprise I am constantly talking about food with family and friends, or to complete strangers for that matter. I had also tasted Sam’s rack of lamb and would certainly not have been disappointed if I had gone with that as an alternative. Jennifer offered me a piece of her steak but I declined, as I had enough on my plate already (pun intended).
Ken did not finish his lamb shank and carefully added it on top of his remaining rice with the perfectly cooked roasted broccoli on top. We both even ordered that same side dish. I could not help my gluttonous self and managed to finish the entire lamb shank but could not fit in all the rice and broccoli, as Bebe was insisting I must try the dessert.
The waitress wrapped up Jennifer’s half steak and Ken’s Lamb shank. Sam, Will, and Bebe all finished their rack of lamb entrées. Once the table was cleared, the waitress she took our dessert orders. Bebe ordered rice pudding, even though it was not on the menu. What was on the menu was a Poached Pear on rice pudding with a Chambord Liqueur reduction drizzled over the top. Sam ordered the bread pudding.
This was the most decadent and delicious thing I have eaten in months. It was not only exquisite to look at, but it tasted superb. If this is one of the chef’s family recipes, I am surprised he is aa svelte as he is. It must be all the hard work and long hours he puts in at this fine dining establishment keeping him so thin. I will certainly be going back with everything being this good. I will also have to try all new dishes next time. I may go with one of those fish specials as that is something I don’t get a chance to cook at home either. I can’t wait to try more of his cooking, and THAT’S a sign of a really really good restaurant. So don’t go there, otherwise I may not get a table. At lease don’t go there when I’m planning on being there, but do please help support this local and wonderfully owned little family operated restaurant. They truly do a magnificent job at making you an old fashioned yet sophisticated family meal you will remember!
When we finally got home, Sam promptly finished the hummus, carrots, and bread before going to bed.
Until next week. Eat well, stay healthy, and OH enjoy life!
The Drunken Chef (Russ)