Basso Cafe in Norwalk
There is a Melanie Barnard review in the Stamford Advocate today on Basso Cafe (near Costa Brava). Looks good! Has anyone tried it?
My wife and I have been at Basso three times in the last six months, each time accompanied by one or two additional couples. Although not consciously setting out to do so, we have as a result de facto tasted our way through almost every dish on the menu. On all three occasions all of us at the table found the food to be very good or excellent. Service has also been very good....so I surmise that a full year of experience has resulted in marked improvement. Yes, prices are on the high side, although not outrageously so. However, this has in our experience been more than offset by the BYOB savings. 4 1/2 stars. . .
After a movie last night M&M jfood decided to try this place for a light snack and dessert. It was 930 when they arrived. Jfood was telling mrs jfood about the NYT write-up, how people were commenting positively on these boards and he was looking forward to givng it a whirl..
They opened the door and it was like the old EF Hutton commercial, everyone stopped talking and stared. Waitress showed them a nice 2-top. There were still four other tables finishing their meals. Quite an eclectic crowd, old, young, dressed up, dressed down. And everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
The atmosphere is interesting and jfood commends the owner for doing a pretty good job in converting the space. A nice paint job, a nice bar area and new lights to replace the old flourescent 1950's lighting. The tables and chairs are neauveau style and they try to keep the cleaning bill under control by placing large sheets of paper on top of the table cloths for each seating (jfood won't comment on where this paper is hung but he would hate to have the table directly beneath).
The server was young and somewhat inexperienced, although she was about as friendly and halpful as you can ask for. Jfood wishes he could bottle her enthusiasm and give it to some of the dour servers he has experienced over the years. After a few months she will get better in her knowledge.
Now for some comments on the food. Mrs jfood ordered the Basso salad and jfood ordered the molten lava cake. The Basso salad was a fresh display of bibb lettuce, some canned walnuts, 2 slices of supermarket purchased goat cheese and some ginger-soy dressing. The lettuce was fresh and a nice portion but the walnuts and goat cheese were absolutely nothing special. The dressing was very good but did not give the imression of made on site. The molten cake was not made with high end chocolate, was a little gritty and the jfoods could not decide whether it was a 6 or a 7. The vanilla ice cream was made on site (jfood hopes) since it was not creamy at all (ice crystals very present) had very little vanilla flavor or sweetness. The whipped cream was fresh and could have been a little sweeter as well. The presentation was very nice. It was fair at best. And the coffee, if you can believe this, jfood sent back the first cup, it was ghastly. The second cup was as good a cup of decaf as jfood has ever received.
Would jfood go back for a meal with prices that rival the highest end of the spectrum in the neighborhood. Not until they get their feet under them a little more and make the overall experience worth the price of the entrees. Hopefully they can survive and make the atmoshere and the little things worth the price of admission as we need good restaurants in the area.
Until that time, jfood will sit back and see what others think.
Good luck to this restaurant as the menu does look interesting.
We went with high expectations on Friday - a week after the NY Times review. I usually won't go to a restaurant so soon after a review, but a friend made the reservations. We were pleased that it was BYOB as we brought some nice wine to drink.
After being seated we waited over 10 minutes for them to come greet us and take our wine to open. Another 15 minutes until we had our wine back. We had to ask for bread & olive oil - while the olive oil was truly amazing - the bread tasted a bit stale. All of our entrees were a tad over cooked - not terribly so - but at $33/entree it should have been closer. It was also obvious that our plates had been sitting for quite some time before being served to us. Veggies were luke warm and the sauce on my lamb had a slight film on it.
Desserts were quite tasty. All in all the food was decent - but at these prices the service should have been better and the food just wasn't up to par. There are just too many other restaurants in the area to spend that much money on a mediocre experience.
I finally made it over to this place, since it's been on my list since I read about it in the NYT. I'm sorry to say, I was somewhat disappointed. I agree with jfood, that the waitstaff is more than eager to please, so the service was very good. When we got there, there was just one other table having dinner. More people would have added to the atmosphere.
Overall, the meal was fine, but nothing grand, and it's expensive. The one thing I was looking forward to was dessert...this Tres Leches Cake that everyone seemed to be raving about. I found it gritty and overly sweet and totally unappealing. Is it supposed to be that way? Honestly...I actually made this cake once...followed a recipe I got off the Internet. I thought mine was much better. But, I admit I don't know what it should taste like.
Since there hasn't been too much recent chatter about the place, I wonder if anyone else has been there and what their experience was. Maybe I need to give it another try. And, order the Lava Cake next time.