Blurb: At 23 years and one relocation, it’s still going strong.
Atmospherics: One of the rare restaurants in the NCR that is owned and run by a family, the original was in Santushti Complex for 23 years till it moved to Sunder Nagar a couple of months ago. The interiors – and the settings – look the same as it did previously: monochromatic off-white on the walls, floors, tables. Through the full glass frontage, you can see the fine old trees of Sunder Nagar, just as the well-tended lawns and foliage of Santushti was visible in the former location. The best part of the new site is that it is open for lunch and dinner and will shortly have a licence for beer and wine. The only colour in the restaurant comes from the food on the plate. A word about the service: most of the staff have been there for at least one decade if not more, and know guest preferences well, yet are not in-your-face like the new brigade of service staff. Dining at Basil & Thyme is like dining in a bistro in Europe: concise menu, efficient waiters, ever-present owner.
Table talk: I have a few favourites on the menu and I am gratified that never have the standards ever dropped. Chicken liver pate (Rs 375) is a treat as much for the smooth pate as for the wafer-thin Melba toast that it is served with. The most unusual soup on the menu is carrot and orange (Rs 325), where the carrot forms a root-vegetable base and the orange adds a sweet-sour liveliness. The lunch menu has a few classics on it which have been there since the restaurant first opened its doors. Quiche Lorraine (Rs 535), the savoury cheese and bacon tart, is chief among them. It is served with an excellent apple and celery slaw and embodies the Basil & Thyme approach to food: simple, classic, timeless and tasty. None of the dishes are nouvelle, but on the other hand, they aren’t old-fashioned either: they’re simply timeless.
Plus and minus: In its new avatar, you can visit for lunch, tea or dinner; you can be dropped in your car right up to the door and you can have food packed to take home. On the minus side, lunch can get extremely noisy, especially when there’s a party of ladies around.
Must try: Croissant with mushroom and celery in béchamel; prawns in salsa verde; warm gateau Zara
Food, service, décor: 4, 4, 4
28, Sunder Nagar Market
Open from 11 am to 11 pm
Meal for two: Rs 2,500
Credit cards accepted; wine licence expected shortly