Basilshortnorth.com 1124 N High St, Columbus · (614) 421-2275
I must admit that it’s not often that I am surprised by what a restaurant is prepared to offer me. Last week, I had an opportunity to enjoy a lunch at Basil, a small Thai eatery located on the corner of High Street and 4th, on the north side of Columbus. I arrived prepared to enjoy a nice lunch and was seated immediately. At first I was concerned at the fact that I was one of the only customers who arrived for lunch but it gave me time to contemplate the aesthetics in peace. The restaurant has a very open feeling, like it would be a great spot for a studio apartment or art gallery. The walls have spots of exposed brick that contrast the dark wooden floors. Half-lit, mismatched chandeliers hang from the ceiling and rusted iron decorations adorn the walls. All together the place fails to speak to the Thai cuisine it serves. I notice a very modern style bar on the other side of the room just as my waiter arrives with menus.
I pick up the smaller lunch menu and I notice the offer, $8.50 for a three-course lunch. I have seen offers like this at other places and generally the portions are too small or the options feel very limited but I’m willing to take a chance on a new place. I spend the next ten minutes translating the Thai descriptions on the lunch menu to their English definitions on the regular menu and the options seem generous. I am able to choose a soup, an appetizer, and a lunch entrée. For my soup, I order the Tom Ka, a coconut based soup that is filled with mushrooms, lemongrass, lime juice, galingale root (similar flavor to ginger), and cilantro. I also order the vegetable tempura as my appetizer. This dish comes with a variety of different vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and zucchini, and it is served with a sweet, tangy vinaigrette sauce. My soup and appetizer arrive and I am very surprised. The portion of tempura is enough for a meal itself and both dishes are delicious. The soup is hot and sweet, the vegetables marry very well with the hot coconut broth. The vegetables come out hot and crispy and the vinaigrette is just spicy enough to keep the flavors interesting.
Once I finish my starters, I am less than confident that I will be able to finish this meal. For my lunch entrée, I ordered the Pad Se Ewe, a dish composed of wide rice noodles, stir fried with egg and Chinese broccoli, served with my choice of meat or tofu. Naturally, I requested the dish be prepared spicy and I was not disappointed. The portion, like the starters, was substantial for a lunch but the flavors involved forced me to consume more than I should have. The noodles are soft and spicy and the veggies offered a crunchy contrast. The spice properly enhanced the sensations of the dish without overpowering the flavors. Ultimately the size of the meal proved too much for me and I was forced to lay down my fork and ask for a doggy bag.
Basil offers much more outside of their lunch special. They run a happy hour every Monday through Thursday from 4pm-7pm and they offer a vegetarian or gluten free option for almost every single dish. The menu is extensive, serving numerous appetizers, salads, soups, noodles, and other entrees. They stick to their Thai foundation and for that I am very grateful. They have created a menu and a concept that is not only a great value but it is done the right way. The quality of the food is consistent with the décor, simple and unassuming, but everything is in the right place and nothing extra is left to get in the way. This is a fantastic place to come for a quick lunch and I’m sure it is equally satisfying for dinner. I happily give Basil 5 out of 5 pens.