For those antiquers who tirelessly climb the hill toward Glover Park, or for those seeking a little respite from the mainstays on M Street, Georgetown's Basil is a fresh but unassuming spot just north of O Street. Walk up the stairs of the red-brick town house and one of two owners will greet you.
The cozy window seat is perfect for views of Georgetown patrons, students and proprietors going about their business. Hidden away from the frantic pace of the outside world, diners are encouraged to take time to relax and enjoy Basil's trendy atmosphere and friendly service. Art deco tables and wall mosaics signal a modern take on the ancient Asian art world, while the menu holds true to more traditional styles.
All the favorites are here, from Pad Thai (sauteed noodles with tofu and peanuts), to Lad Na (jumbo rice noodles), and Gang Dang (red curry paste). The wait staff is a great source for suggestions if you're willing to take a chance on the more-obscure items like Potpourri Shrimp (shrimp and vermicelli noodles in a Merlot sauce), or Ped Ka Pow (crispy duck in spicy red basil sauce). All of the seafood dishes are offered with a choice of shrimp, squid or scallops; whole fish is available with your choice of chili, black bean, or sweet and sour sauce. Anything served in the chili or red basil sauce is sure to please, though both should be reserved for those with a penchant for fiery food.
For a true taste of the restaurant, create your own sampler platter of appetizers. The fish cake is a house specialty and is a bargain with five cakes for $5.95. Lightly fried minced fish with chili paste and served with a cucumber and crushed peanut sauce, the patties are flavorful, though they could have been more crispy when we went. The Larb Kai (minced chicken with lime juice, chili and mint leaves) is also served in a hearty dish and can feed more than two as an appetizer. Order an extra water glass in advance as the chili and onion in this plate pack a punch.
There is a lengthy vegetarian menu and all dinner entrees fall between $7 and $12 (lunch sizes are about $1 to $2 less). The dessert menu changes daily but always includes favorites like Banana Na Na, Basil's Thai Custard and Sweet Rice with Mango.
-- Stacy Rosenberg