This week’s restaurant: The Basil, 1845 E. Holt Blvd. (at Vineyard), Ontario.
Part of a sharp-looking new complex on the northwest corner of Holt and Vineyard, the Basil is by a Quizno’s, a Starbucks and a child welfare office, with the restaurants obviously aimed at the hotel crowd nearby. The Basil has certainly been anticipated here in our newsroom a few blocks away, the “coming soon” banner for months having drawn my colleagues’ curiosity. I round the corner there on way to Ontario council meetings twice a month and always glance over.
Well, the Basil finally opened in late August, after a long gestation. A couple of us went there for dinner Wednesday.
Inside, the Basil is done in shades of gold, tasteful art on the walls, a candle at each table, a shiny bar specializing in martinis against one wall. The look is very modern and upscale. The Basil, one has to acknowledge, is almost certainly the hippest atmosphere anywhere on Holt from Ontario all the way through Pomona.
Given the attention lavished on the setting, however, the menu was a letdown. Billed as “Thai-European cuisine,” the restaurant promises a fusion of disparate cuisines in creative new dishes. Instead, it’s standard Thai food, plus fettucine alfredo and spaghetti. Other than seafood ka-pow, the only fish on the menu is deep-fried orange roughy.
Adjusting our expectations, we went with mas-a-man pork ($10.95), a peanut and coconut milk curry with potatoes and onions, and drunken noodles with tofu ($9.95), flat rice noodles with chile, bell pepper, onion, cabbage, tomato and basil.
The dishes were okay, the tofu entree being better than the pork, although my friend was less satisfied than I was with the latter. She noticed that the potato was mushy and the onion crisp, indicating the dish was assembled from other parts rather than cooked together.
The kitchen brought out free fried banana for all the tables that evening. Dipped in coconut flakes and fried, the banana was the one unequivocal success of the night.
For that corner of Ontario, the Basil is welcome, and the mildly swanky bar might become a popular spot. For Thai entrees in the $10 to $20 price range, however, locals would be better off at Green Mango or Thai-T in Rancho Cucamonga or Taste of Asia in La Verne, where the menus are more imaginative and the cooking more expert.