The Basil Café in St. James, New York is a tiny little restaurant hidden always among trees and shrubbery that surround it. If you didn’t know it was there, you would drive right by it, and that would be a shame because you would have missed one of the best culinary dining experiences here on the North Shore of Long Island.
I returned to 413 Lake Avenue, St James to eat at the Basil Café at Sam’s request. It is his last day here on the island before he leaves and heads back to Boston, Massachusetts as a college student for the start of his second year.
Accompanying me was my wife and mother in-law. My sister-in-law, her son Adam, and Sam were travelling separately. I knew I had to suffer through this meal without wine, since I was the designated driver for this adventure. Jen is still in pain and her driving skills are not as good as they used to be.
We started with the humus appetizer, and those little bread triangles that are just so divine, along with the complimentary bread, of course. As soon as my sister in-law arrived with Sam and Adam we ordered our entrées .
Sam and Adam both ordered the lamb shank. This Persian dish is called KHORESH BUDEMJAN. It is a lamb shank cooked and served in a tomato sauce with eggplant. Did I mention this a Persian restaurant that serves Mediterranean food. All I know is its dam good and if you haven’t been there before, this is the first dish I recommend to try. Assuming of course you like meat, more so lamb. I also recommend having the rice with it because you will want to eat every drop of the sauce.
My wife, ever the new food enthusiast, order the New York strip steak (medium rare). I did try a piece and it was very good but when in Rome order Italian. When in a Mediterranean restaurant, order the lamb! Jen hates lamb. I however, desperately needed to try somthing else on the menu having already had the lamb shanks and they are to die for I need to see if that was just a fluke or was this chef as good as I’d hoped he was. The chef’s special was an eight ounce piece of sea bass in a butter sauce. It was served with your choice basmati rice or fingering potatoes. I choose the rice of course and it came with some of the best broccoli I have ever eaten at a restaurant. This dish did not disappoint me. The fish was cooked to perfection and the sides were perfect. I just wish I had a nice Chardonnay wine to wash it all down.
I recommended the rack of lamb to my mother in-law, who immediately ruined it by ordering it well-done. My sister in-law, who truly is adventurous in terms of food, practically let the waiter order for her since she was not able to make up her mind. He recommend the Basil special which consisted of skewered chicken and beef over basmati rice, jeweled. Jeweled rice is something extra you can add on the top of the already good basmati rice. I am not sure of everything in it, it did have onions, currants or raisins, and pistachios all cooked in a succulent saffron sauce. She loved it and next time would order just the chicken skewers. She let Jennifer try a piece of the beef skewer, and that was enough to convince Jennifer to order the beef next time.
Both Sam and Adam finished every grain of rice and every bit of the lamb shank and sauce. Unfortunately, after all that food no one had room for dessert. This is a shame really because I so wanted the pouched pear in rice pudding. Always leave them wanting more I suppose.
Anyway, that was my Sunday culinary adventure. Sorry if I have not posted in a few days. I have been busy taking Sam back to College. Maybe, when Sam returns from school, I will see you at the Basil Café.
That’s all for now. Until tomorrow when my post will be about Grocery shopping.
The Drunken Chef (Russ)