18 April 2010

Restaurant Review: basil

Out of sheer laziness, we ate at Basil in the Sheraton Grand Sukhumvit because it was close to home. As hotel restaurants go, it was delicious and definitely more upscale that my usual budget prefers.

I've overcome my personal dislike of hotel restaurants, at least in Thailand. I've come to accept that sometimes gourmet dining in Bangkok is best found in the five star hotels because the institutions have the means to hire first rate world class chefs, literally. Likewise, these hotels also are more likely to maintain the training and standards of a Michelin kitchen. What is probably is most important is the fact that the staff are better trained. Aside from little to no language barrier, the staff are attuned to nuances of Western polite dining, such as bringing out all the main courses together, not rushing and wisking one person's empty plate away while others still eat, offering a full set of utensils and drinking glasses as appropriate, etc. Over time, these little niceties do matter. When one is raised to a certain standard of politeness, one appreciates receiving the proper courtesy every now and then.

The food is excellent, worth every penny. If you are fighting with your sibling over the last piece of vegetable, you know it's that good. The best dish we had was the stir-fried morning glory, the most basic and classic vegetable dish. No matter how many times I try, I just can't cook morning glory to taste the same as the restaurants.

Basil even wheels around a cart of mock prepared desserts after we finished our main course, enticing us to order a sweet dish. It's quite an effective strategy. We fell for it, hook, line, sinker. With his thick accent, the waiter was explaining the dessert specials to include what I thought he said to be a "cranberry coconut." I'm usually willing to go with specials, but cranberries in coconut just doesn't sound, well, special. Brother gave me a funny look when I said that and ordered the special anyway.

He was served a drool-worthy creme brulée cooked in a coconut shell. Damn. I want that.

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