There is bad service, there is terrible service and then there is Basilico’s service. And then there’s Basilico’s service. It’s not just customers complaining that no one’s given them a menu or taken their order, but the chef would intermittently pop out of the kitchen to snap at waiters for not picking up the food. Water glasses lie unfilled, plates are not cleared, a drink we ordered arrives only after my dining companion, fed up with nothing appearing despite two reminders, has an angry word with our server.
The service at the all-day, world cuisine restaurant which recently reopened its Bandra outlet on Hill Road, is atrocious, but the space is a nice. A deceptively narrow corridor housing the patisserie counter opens up to a large, brightly lit dining area. The décor is minimal and unobtrusive; wood topped tables are lined up against wood panelled walls.
The new menu, while retaining most of the old favourites, also includes a number of new dishes. Trying to get the service staff to explain what has been added is a challenge, so on our phones we painstakingly compare this menu with the one from their Colaba outlet. There seem to be far more vegetarian options and the word ‘organic’ appears a lot more frequently.
First on our table is a refreshing, but light, mozzarella and chicken croquettes salad. The fresh, creamy mozzarella balances the tanginess of the crunchy and colourful salad. Ignore the ghastly commercial mayo and you’ll quite like the gentle spicy bite of the perfectly-cooked peri peri prawns.
It’s not surprising that Basilico has managed to get the balance of flavours so perfect. The kitchen is led by Evan Gwynne who started his career in India with Olive, Bandra about a decade ago. He was one of the few expat chefs to quickly understand that Indians don’t need spice but strong flavours.
So the juicy, char grilled barbecue chicken wings aren’t drenched in sauce but enveloped in a syrupy honeyed glaze. Eat them by hand and you’ll be tempted to nibble on your fingers.
With the teriyaki glazed salmon, Gwynne scores again. The fish flakes off into succulent morsels while the toasted black and white sesame crust gives off a pleasing aroma of sweet smoke. The teriyaki sauce is sweet enough to be appetising, but not so sweet that it cloaks the taste of the fish or the accompanying sautéed greens.
When it finally came, the tropical guava cooler, served in a squat jar-shaped glass had a minty and lemony freshness.
By the end of the meal we were too tired to invest any more time in ordering a dessert. This turned out to be a good thing, because we had to remind them thrice to give us our bill.
While the new menu makes Basilico more relevant, they need to sort out their service issues before things go downhill.
WHAT: Café Basilico
WHERE: Ground Floor, Eternia Building, Hill Road, Bandra (West)
WHEN: 12 noon – 12:30 pm. Will open for breakfast from June.
COST: Rs 1,500 for two
CALL: 67039999/ 6710 0000
The author tweets at @chezantoine