Sweet Basil Needham I just don't get it
I just don't get the hype and great reviews on yelp, tripadvisor, zagat (25 food rating). The chef/owner appears to be wildly popular in the media, writing cookbooks, etc. I will preface my remarks by saying that I have eaten here several times, dining in and taking out. I have always felt that the food was good not great, saturated in butter and oil (don't get me wrong, I love real butter and olive oil but not when the food coagulates the next day) and not very inventive. Their menu is dominated by gut filling, heavily sauced pastas more appropriate for a cold winter's day and unfortunately, the menu rarely changes. Last night 3 of us had dinner. Three entrees and 1 appetizer were ordered so I got to try 4 different items. The entrees were shrimp scampi over linguini, bolegnese over house made pappardelle and Rosemary chicken. The appetizer was the risotto of the day which was risotto, fiddle heads, mushrooms and onions. The risotto was a little too al dente (a little too firm and underdone). I could have lived with that as I prefer that too overdone (mush) but as my wife stated, "the flavors just didn't blend right." As far as the entrees, the shrimp scampi was the best of the three, a little too lemony but still good. The Rosemary Chicken which has been on the menu since day one and is usually a winner was just average, perhaps I am just getting tired of it? As far as the bolegnese, the house made pappardelle were fine but the sauce just wasn't a standout, nothing particularly bad about it but not very memorable either.
I've only been maybe 5 times but its been outstanding each time. And Dave the owner/chef couldn't have been more gracious.
But it's been maybe a year and a half since my last visit. Hope they haven't derailed...
Some of the accolades probably need to be considered in the context of comparison to other local suburban options.
I ate at Sweet Basil the night before you, and had a better experience - my risotto was mushroom and some other ingredients that I can't recall, but they went together well. I split a salad with beets and goat cheese - kind of 2002, but good. Server was friendly and efficient. I agree with you that the food is heavy - it's far from innovative - but a great local spot, and reasonably priced.