It has been quite a while since we ate out, and this was a decision taken consciously, in the aim of losing a few pounds. Today was a special day, and a very valid excuse to eating out – my Wedding Anniversary!
Since this restaurant was on the top of my to-do list, I did not have the slightest dilemma as to where to go. It was decided right away that Basil with a Twist it is! I called up in the afternoon and reserved a table for the four of us at 19:30 Hrs and we were good to go.
Basil with a Twist is a restaurant that serves European cuisine, more specifically from the Balkan region. I’ve read somewhere that the two Chefs at Basil are from Serbia. The name ‘Serbia’ immediately brought only one thing to my mind – Tennis ! A lot of top Tennis players are from here – Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and many more. Italian has become relatively a very common cuisine in the Chennai food scene, but European cuisine from the Balkan region however is new to Chennai. So I was all the more curious to try food from here.
Normally when there is an appointment or a reservation, I do not like to be late. So in spite of the crazy traffic on a Friday evening, we reached G N Chetty road around 07:15PM and I was feeling proud of my time management skills 😉 and that’s when I was reminded of Murphy’s Law – ‘Anything that can go wrong will go wrong’ 😀 and sure it did ! The last time I probably visited Habibullah Road was a few years ago, and have never been there recently. All the while I remembered that it connected North Usman Road and Thirumalai Pillai Road, but did not realize that it extended all the way across Thirumalai Pillai Road. After about 15-20 minutes of searching around on the wrong side of the road, I called up the restaurant, got directions and at last reached the place a good fifteen minutes late. For the benefit of others, it is situated on Habibullah Road, adjacent to Vidyodaya School playground, off Thirumalai Pillai Road and NOT towards North Usman Road.
As soon as we entered, we were welcomed by Mr. Bogdan, who I presume, owns the place. The place looked neat, with decent interiors and a nice view of the open kitchen. We were seated immediately and were ready to order in about five minutes. The menu was pretty much classified like any other European/Italian restaurant – starters, main course, Pizza, Pasta, Risotto, and desserts. Each category had a decent mix of chicken, red meat, seafood, and vegetarian choices. Since I do not have access to the menu on the internet, some of the names might not be exactly correct, however, I will try to get them right. Another thing that you should be aware of is my limitation to eating meat. By choice, I do not eat any meat other than chicken. So obviously in places that offer a wide choice of lamb, beef, and pork/ham dishes, my review will not encompass all that is on offer. To add to it, my wife preferred Vegetarian, so we had to mix a bit and order to suit all of us.
For the starters, we ordered a bruschetta which had four crunchy slices with two variants, one with olive tapenade and another, a classic with tomatoes and basil. It was quite small in size, and disappeared in no time. It was flavorsome and very delicious. Nutty Chicken in the menu sounded appealing, but wasn’t available, so ordered Foccacia with a cheesy dip. It was very good, and the dip was very tasty. Ordered a salad called Shopska. It was good, but not very extraordinary. The bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini were all fresh and crunchy, topped with grated cheese and tasted quite good. The starters were quite minimal in portion and we finished them off pretty quickly.
For the main course, we ordered a Goat Cheese and Artichoke Pizza. It was a thin crust, loaded with cheese and was quite good. One or two bites felt a bit salty. Not sure if it was the artichoke or cheese, but I was a bit confused about that mouthful being salty or sour. Overall, it was okay. We wanted to skip the ‘common’ Italian choices like pasta and risotto, so ordered something different. Broccoli Tempura with Spinach Sauce was good, but very cheesy and heavy. My wife coudn’t eat beyond half of it, so I had to do the remaining formalities 😉 Grilled Chicken Breast was the best of all. The mushroom sauce along with it was delicious. The chicken was nicely done, soft and the baked slices of aubergine, peppers and zucchini tasted good too. Couldn’t quite make out what the three pieces on the top were, but tasted good ! Yakitori skewers were grilled chicken and leek on skewers along with sautéed baby potatoes. The baby potatoes were salty to my palate and I did not enjoy them very much. Don’t remember if I ate leek ever, it tasted a bit like onion, but at the same time, a couple of pieces were chewy and just wouldn’t cut. So left a few of them. The chicken was good and tasty. Overall, the main course was a mixed bag.
We decided to order just a couple of desserts and share it among ourselves. Date and Walnut cake with cherry compote was good. Loved the flavor in the cake, but the compote was a bit sour to my liking. Baklava ice cream tasted good. I’ve had baklava a few times, so I was more expecting the phyllo pastry and nuts along with ice cream. This was more like ice cream topped with lot of nuts with baklava flavor. However, it was good. The Americano was perfect! They seem to have a coffee machine which made a really good coffee! From the bill I noticed that the coffee was not charged and was complimentary.
Now coming to the pricing – This dinner set us back by 4K. I would say the place is expensive, but given the exclusivity of what it offers, probably it is justified. As I said earlier, you might have ten places that serve ‘authentic’ Italian cuisine in Chennai, but at the moment, this is the ONLY place that serves European cuisine from the Balkan region. So no complaints with the pricing. Since it was a special occasion, it was okay. Otherwise, I wouldn’t visit it too often. To me, this place will remain as one of the choices if I have to take my friends coming from abroad for a meal, just to show off that European cuisine in Chennai is not all Greek and Latin, but more Balkan 🙂