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Feedbag - Starry night

Basil's is a sweet spot to dine alfrescoSample the SouthMeat on the MenuTasty TouchdownBountiful HarvestEat Globally

Basil's is one of those sleepy little boîtes, stashed away on a side street, that bills itself as a respite from the Buckhead "scene." If you did in fact need a respite (Buckhead can be exhausting, I'll admit), you'd have nearly a dozen of these unassuming, neighborhood-y spots to choose from. In fact, just across the street is Anis, a similarly cozy, down-to-earth little bistro. These places each have their charms, and Basil's best asset is its lovely patio. Nestled among the trees, the patio stays shady for most of the day. A tidy green-and-white-striped awning extends out over half the patio, with the other half open to the evening breeze. On the night we visited, there wasn't a soul in the dining room, but the patio was lively.

The hazy Mediterranean menu has a few standouts but lacks focus. Caprese salad, spanakopita, paella, lamb kebobs — it's a mishmash of influences. Calamari drizzled in garlicky aioli and tossed with fried pieces of onion and red pepper were delicious, though the portion was oddly tiny. A ramekin of cumin-scented marinara alongside seemed like overkill, but its acidity was a nice foil to the creamy aioli. The Caprese salad featured lusciously ripe tomatoes, but a too sweet balsamic reduction stole their thunder.

I'm not sure what possessed me to order seafood pasta as my entree. Too often, the dish features mushy, overcooked seafood. Nothing was frightfully overdone here, but it was difficult to distinguish what was what. Mussels, shrimp, hunks of fish and thumbnail-sized scallops all tasted the same in their tangle of spaghetti and tomato broth.

A kabob of beef tenderloin, chicken and lamb fared somewhat better. Charred tomatoes and onion wedges alternated between hunks of grilled meat, with the entire thing served on a bed of rice. A lemony marinade complemented the meats, and the chicken and lamb were juicy and tender, but the beef was a shade overdone. The dessert we ordered, a triple-decker chocolate fudge cake of the sort you might get at Applebee's, is barely worth mentioning. Oh sure, we ate it. But we beat ourselves up about it later.

I'll give Basil's credit for keeping prices reasonable. Only two entrees venture past the $20 mark, with several less than $16. And what with the lovely outdoor seating and romantic vibe, the menu's imperfections can fade into the background

Canoe continues its month-long 10th anniversary celebration with a lineup of guest chefs from around the South. Next up is Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham on Thurs., Sept. 29; Michael Kramer of McCrady's in Charleston will wrap things up Oct. 6. Each chef will create his own four-course, prix-fixe menu (Canoe's regular menu will also be available). 4199 Paces Ferry Road. 404-432-2663. www.canoeatl.com.

Spice pairs up with Halpern's Steak and Seafood to host a "Big Red" Meat Dinner on Thurs., Sept. 29. The five-course dinner will feature chef Paul Albrecht's red meat creations, including jellied beef consommé, braised beef short ribs and diver scallops, and a mixed grill with char-grilled filet, lamb chop "lollipops" and venison osso buco. $65 per person, including wine. The event will also feature a silent auction with items from Cook's Warehouse, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the American Institute of Food and Wine. 793 Juniper St. 404-875-4242. www.spicerestaurant.com.

Football season is here, and Meehan's in Brookhaven has rolled out a handful of deals that should score points with fans. Mondays are half-price burgers and $3 pints all day. Saturdays are College Game Day — anyone showing a college ID or alumni membership card gets 15 percent off all food purchases. Every Falcons home game, look for $6.50 "Sip and Sliders." Get three sliders (mini-hamburgers) and a pint of beer for $6.50. 4058 Peachtree Road. 404-467-9531. www.101concepts.com.

The second annual Harvest Midtown Festival takes place Sat., Oct. 8. The revelry will take place from noon-5 p.m. along Fifth Street between West Peachtree and Peachtree streets. A bevy of Midtown restaurants are participating this year, and more than 100 wines will highlight every major growing region in the world. Tickets are $45 in advance and $55 at the door. Tickets for the VIP Vintner's Area (which will feature reserve label wines and passed hors d'oeuvres inside of Eno) are $75. For tickets, call 404-841-8335. www.harvestmidtown.com.

Midtown's newest hot spot, the Globe, will host the Atlanta's Table Supper Club on Tues., Oct. 11. The monthly dining series benefits the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The Globe will donate 20 percent of the evening's proceeds to Atlanta's Table. 75 Fifth St. 404-541-1487. www.globeatlanta.com.





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