Friday, August 9, 2013

Basil Seasonal Dining – Savoring Carmel’s Natural Flavors

After we left San Francisco, we headed South by way of California’s Monterrey Peninsula, which was just a spectacular experience. Part of what made the journey that much more enjoyable was the delectable, natural food we had at our disposal, and it was really difficult to have anything that wasn’t delicious.

I did some research on Carmel’s restaurants, as I usually do, only to find a lot of gems, which were also very pricey. Doing some more digging, I decided that heading to Carmel’s quaint town called Carmel by the Sea would be a nice place to have dinner, and I found a cute little, low-key restaurant called Basil Seasonal Dining that ended up being our dinner destination.

Set in the heart of Carmel by the Sea, it’s a wonder that Basil Seasonal Dining remains a hidden gem. It must be its stealth location, as Dan and I inadvertently passed it on our way over since it’s situated in a little tributary street right off of Ocean St.

We noticed a few tables outside, but since Carmel gets to be quite chilly at night, we chose to dine in Basil’s cozy dining room. It’s a good thing we had a reservation, since the place was almost full, which was a good sign.

Dan remarked at how tiny it actually was, the dining room housing only about 25 patrons – and we loved that. We hadn’t really had an intimate, romantic meal up to that point in the trip, and this created a nice opportunity.

While the menu wasn’t wildly extensive, it had just what we needed, and we were excited by a lot of the menu items. The wine selection was quite nice too, and boasted a few local varieties, which we naturally had to sample.

Tuna Tartare – We were totally taken with this appetizer special, which sounded delicious and hinted at Asian flavors. I enjoyed it very much, as the tuna was fresh and cut into bite size pieces, resting on a bed of chunky avocado salad. Refreshing and light, we both agreed that it was a great way to start, and to keep our palates neutral, in preparation of the heartier dishes still to come.

Braised Rabbit – I was curious to try Basil’s take on a braised rabbit dish, which was paired with locally grown veggies such as heirloom cauliflower and romanesco. A modest helping of homemade gnocchi also graced the dish, which was a big highlight for me – the soft, pillowy pieces catching the rabbit’s hearty braising liquid. The meat itself was really flavorful and cooked perfectly – not too gamey or tough but tender, juicy and a tad earthy.

Wild Boar Sausage Wrapped in Prosciutto – Dan was a very happy customer, devouring the sausage dish, but still managing to share with me. I was grateful, as it was a real treat, the salty, well done prosciutto being my favorite part. Boasting some fresh pieces of basil, it was nice to actually tear some into the dish for a hint of lemony freshness.

Service and Cost:

The service was yet another success at Basil, our waiter showing off his knowledge of food and drink, but also his professionalism, all at the same time maintaining that characteristic, Carmel laid-back vibe. We never felt that we waited too long for anything and generally felt well looked after.

All the food is very well priced, considering the locally sourced ingredients and their high quality. The entire dinner set us back about $95, including drinks, tip and tax.

3 Mmmms

Basil Seasonal Dining - San Carlos between Ocean & 7th, Carmel, CA 93921

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