Review: Basis New American Restaurant - PHX
- Firenza00 Jan 19, 2008 06:51 PM
We were somewhat at a loss as to where to go to dinner last night. Still reeling from the vacation- and pneumonia-induced financial shortage, we wanted someplace not too expensive. Tara's only request was "meat". After thinking of our usual options, I remembered that Basis, a place we'd heard good things about recently, had burgers in addition to the more expensive entrees. Located just west on Thunderbird of 7th Street on the north side, it's not too far from our house.
Basis is in an unassuming strip mall across from an AJ's Fine Foods and behind a Safeway that faces 7th Street. We arrived just before 8pm. While it looked small from the outside, the restaurant was actually rather spacious. There were about eight or nine groups eating scattered around the restaurant. The restaurant has around 20 tables/booths/sectionals for seating. Four deep booths are along the east wall, half the west and south walls have three tables each with chairs and a long, booth-like sectional seating running along the wall. Those tables can be pushed together for larger groups. The center of the dining area has about 8 four-tops. A bar takes up the northwest part of the dining area and an open kitchen is on the north side. We were seated in the southeast corner.
For a long time after we were seated, we didn't have any contact with waitstaff. We looked over the menu. A lot of the items looked really good, but we were there for the cheeseburgers. Tara really wanted to try the ribs, but we figured that would be something for another visit. A waiter eventually came over and got our drink order. He also listed several entrees they were out of for the night. Apparently we just missed a huge rush during which they were completely packed, including at the bar. He also listed the daily specials. I tried to order a Coke, but he said they were out of that too. Tara and I just stuck with water. While he went to get drinks, we kinda waffled between a chicken caesar salad with soup and the burgers. We finally did decide to stick with our burger plan. A hostess dropped off our water. Again, we seemed to wait a long time before our waiter swung back around. When he finally did, he dropped off a Coke. They did have some after all. We both ordered the cheeseburger with no tomato, Tara's medium and mine medium-well. We also both opted for the sweet potato fries as our included side.
As we waited for our entree, the waiter came by and brought a refill for my Coke. He also said he's bring some bread over as well. Tara had commented on what appeared to be bread plates on the table and wondered if we were going to get some. The bread basket that arrived had four very long slice of a spongy bread and two ramekins, one with a green spread and one with orange spread. The girl who brought them offered no explanation as to what the flavors they might be. We tried them and the green was very obviously basil. The orange seemed to be some sort of roasted red pepper spread, but it had an extra flavor component that made us unsure.
After a little while, we'd finished the bread. I noticed two plates being put on the shelf along the kitchen wall and wondered what they were, only to realize that the were our burgers. The chefs put on the sweet potato fries from a bowl and our server brought them over.
The lettuce, onion, ketchup, mayo, and mustard were all on the side. The burger had the melted cheddar and mushrooms on it and that was about it. I put ketchup and mustard on mine, along with some red onion slices. I tried a few fries and was immediately disappointed. They ranged from tepid to cold. They were obviously hold-overs from the earlier rush. The burger was pretty good, but was definitely well-done, not the medium-well I asked for. This isn't a huge issues, as I've only started ordering my burgers medium-well within the past year or so. Tara's burger was past her ordered doneness as well, probably medium-well like mine should have been. I really didn't see any reason for our burgers to both be past our ordered temp. I was able to watch the kitchen the whole time, and ours was the only dinner order they had. Still, I did enjoy the burger. Tara liked hers as well. She was even eating the fries, despite their temperature.
Our waiter eventually came by to ask how things were going. I mentioned that the fries came out pretty much cold. He said he'd have the kitchen fry up a fresh batch and bring them out. A few minutes later, fresh, burning hot fries appeared. They were really good but probably needed some more seasoning or possibly an aioli to dip them in. Tara actually found them to be a little too sweet.
We finished our meal and waited for the waiter to come by so we could ask for the check. We waited a LONG time. He finally came over and asked if we wanted dessert, but nothing sounded tempting. We asked for the check. Again, another very long wait. We could see him the whole time, as the room is open and from our seats, we could see everything. He would stay behind the bar for long periods doing who knows what. He brought the check and I put my card in it but he'd already left. Once more, long wait. He came, grabbed the check, and again, long wait. Eventually, we paid and were able to leave.
Overall, we enjoyed it. Service, despite every other table either having coffee or just lingering, was horribly slow. He was very friendly and personable and didn't charge for the Coke or fresh fries. There were two waiters plus a girl doing water/bread service. Possibly it was just an anomaly. We definitely want to go back and try it again, as there are a lot of things on the menu that look really good. They are having a special Valentine's Day menu for $52. We saw it on the counter when we first went in.
Basis New American Restaurant
410 E Thunderbird Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85022
Thanks for the review. Its positive and upbeat tone was magnanimous. I certainly would not be so kind if the same service was afforded me.
Then again, like you said, it may have been an off time; especially considering everyone might have been weary from the lunch rush.
I wonder if other Chowhounds had better experiences.
In very general terms, my experiences have been almost the opposite, even during a crush, or just after. There is no excuse for ignoring the clients, at any time, for any reason.
Only hint of a complaint, that I have ever had, has been the markup of the wines, but then the list is smallish, eclectic, and well-paired for the menus. In the past, this has not been normal, and should not be tolerated.
I think that Firenza00 was probably much nicer, and accommodating, than I might have been, in similar circumstances. Any neighborhood restaurant, and they qualify as one, should be about the food, then the service.
Next visit, I'll keep my eyes open and see if I see some major changes, or problems.
Interesting about the service. I find that they are usually almost cloying. I like to dine at a set pace, and it's slow by comparison to most others. I have never had a wait for anything at Basis, but then I am usually behind the normal service curve.
I know that they can get slammed, and I've had instances, when they just ran out of X. One night it X, Y AND Z, but that was a rare night.
I've never had their burgers. Matter of fact, with my dining there, since they opened, I did not even recall burgers on the menu. I'll have to look into that on my next visit, just out of curiosity. I've had a lot of tenderloin, and it's always been cooked per my order - medium rare, which is warm, but dark pink/red inside, not cold red. One should be able to get, what they order. The cooks/chef know the grill and ought to be able to pull the meat, when it is right. There is just no excuse for both orders being over-done. I think that I'd have switched plates, and then sent one back. However, I do have to admit that on my grill, when I have a guest, who wants anything above medium-rare, I have to watch it like a hawk, and can't have my normal glass of Cab, while cooking, as I might miss the timing, but then, I'm not a pro, and 99% of the stuff at my house is medium-rare +/-. Poor MIL loves her burgers well-done, and has gotten some chunks of charcoal, when I tried to do it, as she wished.
Your experience is almost the opposite, of what I have had, regarding the service. I have no idea of what was going on, and can say, based on years of dining there, that it is (or WAS) not normal. Almost the opposite.
Thanks for the review. Even with the service issues, it sounded like you might well be back. I'd urge you to give them another chance, and maybe even mention the problems, on your recent visit. I think that it is atypical, especially based on my usual experiences.
Your comments are appreciated,
Thanks for your review. I have to say that my first experience was less than stellar there as well. Now, having said that, all the wonderful CH folks have NEVER done me wrong. Here's what happened to myself and my group last week.
A vendor of mine was in town and wanted to take myself and my partner to dinner, they were going to be in our neck of the woods and I offered up Basis. I made reservations for 6:30 and when we arrived the restuarant, thankfully, was not busy. Once seated we were told that it was half price wine night. We put our drink orders in and started talking biz. Our waiter brought the drinks back in a timely matter and then it seemed to go down hill from there. He left and just like Firenza00, it took him a loooooong time to come back. When he did come back, he blatantly interrupted me speaking, he didn't even wait for me to breathe! LOL Anyhow, he took our order. One of our vendors wanted to have the tuna (it had fennel on it) he graciously explained to the waiter that he was allergic to fennel and would the chef be able to remove it and if not he'd be happy to order something else. Waiter said he would tell the chef and it would not be a problem. Vendors partner ordered the ribs, my SO ordered the steak sandwich and I ordered the stuffed pork chop. The waiter said "how would you like that cooked, well done?" I said no, medium would be great. I thought that was odd. Before he left he said that he'd have some bread brought over.
Just like Firenza the bread was dropped off with no explanation. The waiter returned to see if we need drink refills. I should say though that he came to my side and before he asked about refills I said to let this man finish speaking, as our vendor was giving my partner some information. The waiter didn't wait and interrupted the man. It was an akward moment.
Food arrives, tuna has the fennel on it. The waiter apologized and said he'd take care of it, too bad he couldn't take care of it the first time as he said he would. The ribs were too die for, same with SO's sandwich. My pork? Yep, it was well done. Super dry. I didn't understand that at all. I didn't send mine back, I found the pocket with the cheese and ate that area. Was I pleased, no. Now, had I been with just my SO I would have sent it back, but because of the biz meeting parameters, I kept my mouth shut. I hated being in that position! LOL
Now the final blow was the sweet potato fries. My SO and the rib order both had burnt, cold fries on them. SO asked waiter for better fries. He brought out a large basket to share of thick cut, fresh, hot and unburnt fries. YUM! Still though, why put cold burnt ones on a plate? I didn't get this either. We did tell the waiter that all the fries that are served should be just like the basket that was brought out.
So there ya go. That was our experience. Even with the odd bits, we did enjoy it. SO and I want to go back and it's my hope that it will be a lovely experience.
I hope the Basis people read the board. Sounds like they have a few problems, that if addressed can be fixed easily, but if ignored, could snowball into something much bigger.
We went there about a year ago, and had a nice time. Wasn't incredible, but pretty good. It is very close to our house, so we should probably try it again, as I remember our meal was delicious (with attention to good ingredients, and good wine as accompaniment).
It should be mentioned that service was extremely friendly, for the most part, and they were just recovering from a rush. They were just slow. Really slow.
We'll be back because there were several things on the menu that intrigued us. I do hope, though, that service is a lot more attentive.
The poor service seems to be a common thread recently. That was never a problem in the past, and the servers were quite good and attentive to the guests' needs, and knew not to interrupt them. I wonder what might have changed, and will get by, as soon as the schedule clears a bit. I'll report in, with my observations, especially as I now have a few things to pay attention to.
Sorry that it was not a perfect evening, as it should have been.
re: Bill Hunt
I went to Basis last night for the first time with a group of 7. Had read Bill's review on Friday so was rather worried since I suggested the restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised at what a wonderful night it turned out to be. The wait staff was wonderful and the food was very good. We started with the wonton shortrib tacos and the shrimp quesidillas. Our waiter informed us that there where only 4 tacos to the plate and recommended getting 2 orders. He offered to have the quesidilla cut into 7 pieces, which was perfect for the group. The group loved both dishes. I was not wild about the taco since I found the mango sauce too sweet for my taste buds.
I order the special for my entree which was tilapia with lentils and vegetables. The dish was very good. My only complaint would be some of the vegetables on top were cold. I am not sure if this was on purposes or not. Another person in the party had the same dish and made the same comment, which led me to believe this was done on person. Several people ordered the lamp chops and could not stop raving about how wonderful they were, the best chops they ever had.
For dessert, we ordered one serving of bread pudding, but it was so wonderful, we had to get another order for the table since everyone was raving about it.
The waiter was terrific. I was struggling with trying to find a good red wine to order. He brougt at least 5 tastings to try but at last, could not find a wine I liked. Ended up ordering a bottle of syrah but did was not thrilled with it. I thought our waiter was very good and helpful. I appreciated how he kept bringing out wines to try. I hope they work on developing their wine listing, it needs some work (IMHO).
All in all, I great night.
I agree that the wine list is a bit short. However, they do work to have wines that compliment the fare. As the menu changes (usually about 20% changes), they work in other wines. Still, a bit deeper list would be a benfit. Now, I should have mentioned that one can also consult Nick, who is sommelier/bartender, as he often has non-listed wines around. However, if the server was working to get you what you were looking for, he/she probably had Nick's attention, and it was just a matter of needing more depth.
Glad you enjoyed it. When wife gets back to town, we'll definitely stop in, just to see if things have changed, or if some other poster hit them on the wrong nights.