Restaurant of the Week: The Basil

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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.

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  • Matt Swift

    What’s next? Mexican-Italian Cuisine?

    [Actually, you could get that at Vineyard and 4th at the combo Taco Bell-Pizza Hut! — DA]

  • P.I. Becky

    Thanks for the heads up. Won’t be trying this place.

  • Gavin

    Sometimes your restaurant review reads like it was written by an eagle-eyed epicure, and yet, when someone asks about Mexican cuisine, your answer is “Taco Bell”?  Italian, and your mind goes to “Pizza Hut”?

    [Well, the TB/PH combo is a block from our office (no, I never eat there), the Basil a half-mile south on the same street, and I drive past both frequently, so perhaps that explains it (or doesn’t). — DA]

  • John Clifford

    Perhaps a better example of Mexican-Italian is the Chilighetti at Bob’s Big Boy.

    [! — DA]

  • Charles Bentley


    A Mexican-Italian restaurant may sound like an odd combination to some, but it can be done and done well with the right people in the kitchen. Martin’s Restaurant in Cayucos (just north of Morro Bay off Hwy 1) is one memorable example. My father even went to the kitchen to speak with the chef and came back saying the guy really knew his stuff.

    I’m sure others have examples from the Los Angeles area to suggest. As for locally, I’d have probably made the same Taco Bell/Pizza Hut analogy, not from a “fine dining” aspect but simply the cuisine comparison.

  • JMac

    Isn’t the chili spaghetti combo normally called “Cincinnati” chili? It actually has a sweetness to it because, along with chili powder, it also has cinnamon and in some instances clove. I love Chili 4 Ways. Chili over spaghetti, with grated cheese and chopped onions. Yum!