February 16, 2006

Hot Basil - New Park Road

For those in the funky industrial urban southeast corner of West Hartford, where one can dine well at a variety of noteworthy places (Tapa's, Corner Pug, East West Grill, Fuji, Elmwood, among others) there is new Thai place open. It's in the same building as the old Battiston's Cleaners*, it's called Hot Basil, and its excellent.

From the outside, it looks a little fast foodish (the signage, the name, the storefront, the location) - I've assumed it might be the kind of place you could grab a to-go order of Pad Thai and grab a couple of soda's from the cooler in the corner. However, the inside decor would put Martha Stewart to shame. It's just elegant, tasteful, and extremely well conceived. Great modern urban blocky colors, tasteful art, judicious use of candles and foliage. Hell, the ladies room had an impeccable planter in the corner and a pile of napkins on a shelf that hearken to the high end hotels and restaurants I occasionally get to sample through my corporate personna....

The food was excellent - and the appeal was not limited to the palate - the presentations were well above par. I had Tom Kha Gai (Chicken and Cocoanut Soup) and a Peanut Chicken Salad (Yam Gai), Zippy had one of the entree soups (Chiang Mai Curry Noodle), we were impressed by all. We were in a bit of a rush (U-Conn game, don't cha know) but we'll be back.

Not inexpensive (there are some lunch specials in the $9 range) but with a BYOB policy at present a dinner for 4 would not kill your wallet. This is definitely a date-worthy place.

The folks at East-West Grille are friends and we love that place for its funky ambience, friendly staff, and food, but they have some competition here. Hopefully the market for this sort of cuisine will be sufficient to fill both places and keep them both in business.

* - The cleaners is also under new ownership, and from the outside, it looks a lot nicer inside


Onsite Designs said...

Have eaten at Hot Basil several times since they opened. My favorite is their Pad Thai! Though the food is more pricy than the other place just down the road, it is also much better.

Anonymous said...

As a transplant who has missed the stellar Pacific Rim and Asian cuisine of the SF Bay Area food scene, Hot Basil is balm to my food loving soul.

The food is exquisitely prepared and beautifully presented. Vegetarians eat as contentedly as carnivores, and the staff is flexible and attentive to diner's food preferences. Service is excellent.

It is obvious that the owners bring great talent and careful thought to what they're doing in the kitchen and dining room. As for the price, it seems quite reasonable. You won't find better Thai.