Basi Italia … it really is all that and more.
Posted by cmh gourmand on October 25, 2006
811 Highland St (Cross Street: Buttles Avenue)
(Victorian Village / Short North)
Basi Italia web site
11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Tue. – Fri.
5:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Tue. – Thurs.
5:00 pm to 10:30 pm
Fri. – Sat.
Basi has been a favorite of the culinary underground as well as mainstream foodies for several years. You get a feel for the philosophy of the restaurant while scouting out the menu on the web site. The layout and format of the site mirrors the feel of the restaurant – simple – yet subtlety elegant, – efficient but not frenetically paced, lots of depth in a compressed small space with many personalized touches that reflect the personalities and values of the owners.
Basi is tucked away, in an alley like street just off Buttles – but is easy to find due to the large valet parking signs which ask that you respect the parking privileges of the people that actually live in the neighborhood. No worries if you do not want to pay the $3 for valet parking – just park at the shopping center at Neil and Buttles which is a very short 2-3 minute walk away.
The place has the feel of a friend’s house. Some tables are tightly spaced and seating is at a premium – if you need to wait – it will be outside. If you have a coat or any type of extras – you will need to put them on the coat rack – there is no extra room for anything that is not a permanent part of you.
Some outdoor seating in available in warm weather – on a nice looking patio which would be the best way to experience Basi since the restaurant itself seats 26.
The style of the food and the place is simple and unpretentious with some touches of upscale without the annoyances of doing things for appearances. For instance the wine is served in stemless glasses – which may be for the practical reason of saving space as well as minimizing the danger of spilling glasses in tight quarters.
In discussing service – I have to specifically mention Katelin (sorry if I misspelled the name). She is exceptional. Let me count the ways: professional, knowledgeable, intuitive, non invasive, an air of friendliness and detachment with a dash of culinary cool. She showed up at the right times with the right things – in the right way. She let CMH Gourmand and companion sample a single pumpkin ravioli because we did not have room for three entrees. Katelin executed everything perfectly without any forced formality. She is best server I have encountered in years.
Sampled on the initial visit –
grilled endive & roasted pear
gorgonzola dolce & toasted pistachio
arugula, goat cheese, spiced walnuts & pomegranate
tomato, sausage, raisins, pine nuts & fennel
centercut porkloin chop
apple sage stuffing & maple-cherry jus
Chocolate Trufffles served with a drizzle of chocolate, a sliced strawberry and a sliced fig.
All were good. Just offering beets is a point in my book. Some of the bites of pork were a bit too salty – but it aged well as leftovers and tasted exquisite the next day.
The web site states the restaurant focuses on being “an approachable
relaxed dining experience”. Basi delivered that. It offers a nice mix of traditional and innovative cuisine. There is a special menu before 6:00, daily entree specials, and exceptional desserts, which vary by the day. Basi is worth the effort – make sure you make reservations – these are essential.