Bistrot by Basil
137 Osborne St.
After sitting annoyingly closed for nearly four years, an Osborne Village institution has re-emerged with a new way of doing things.
My partner and I stopped into Bistrot by Basil on a recent Tuesday evening around 9:30 p.m. The dining room was mostly empty and we chose to sit at one of several higher, square bistro tables.
Once we became accustomed to the dim light we began to look around the renovated space.
The interior decor was appealing and relaxing despite being an odd mix of different styles. A classical mural painting on one wall contrasts with a more modern wooden design behind the bar and pillars laden with broken plates and seashells.
The music was equally eclectic, though with less satisfying results.
Marvin Gaye and Frank Sinatra fit right in with our drinks, tapas and the relaxing atmosphere. Kings of Leon and Lily Allen did not.
From the moment we sat down the service was excellent, though it’s difficult to say whether or not this was because of the slow night.
We started with the baba ganoush, which lived up to the menu’s garlicky description. The fire-roasted ganoush was fantastic, but was served with pita that was slightly too soft to perform its dipping duties to satisfaction.
Following this we ordered a thin-crust pizza with brie and sun-dried tomato and a healthy chickpea salad.
The pizza promptly put all previously experienced pizzas to shame and led to some perhaps overly enthusiastic praises for both brie and sundried tomatoes, though it was clearly their team effort that won our hearts.
The chickpea salad was massive and pretty good, but monotonous and all but swimming in its lemony dressing.
Perhaps we were just too overwhelmed by the pizza to give it an honest attempt. We’ll never know.
The menu is basically split into tapas, salads and pizzas, which really lends to the leisurely feel of the new Basil’s.
A few friends showed up as we were finishing up the food to join us for a couple drinks, and at no point did we feel rushed or that we needed to move on.
The tapas items all looked like they were great to share, and our latecomer friends tucked into some calamari while we all lounged and laughed at people attempting to parallel park on the busy street outside our window.
Overall, the evening was marked by a sense of relief that this prime Village real estate was back up and running.
Bistrot by Basil couldn’t ask for a better location, and they’ve capitalized on the neighbourhood with a menu and an atmosphere that will undoubtedly draw a strong crowd of return customers who want to kick back and hang out.
They’ll just have to find their fix of good music somewhere else.
Published in Volume 66, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 8, 2012)