I took a walk down memory lane the other week, heading down Puławska for the first time in yonks. This was my original stamping ground, when I moved to Poland 14 years back, and much of it has remained as I remembered: the Europlex building, both dour and bland, and the Pizza Hut opposite still rolling out rubber. Even the hairdresser on the corner still looked the same. But there were changes, as well, with nothing jolting me out of my nostalgic fog more than the sight of Basil & Lime.
The address was, if I recall correctly, once home to Café Brasil – a murky locals’ bar that was seedy and stained. In contrast, the new tenants are anything but. Looking sophisticated and seductive, I noted it down as a place I should visit. Finally, last night, I got my chance.
The Place: just stepping inside the door, you feel the gloom lift. It’s a compact space, with charcoal colors peppered with punches of lime. There are low banquettes, flickering candles, and glinting angels knelt in prayer on the bar. Slat wood fittings and tall canvas lights complete the look, with the overall effect being a sensual pleasure. Breathe in, breathe out… Enjoy.
The Pictures: first off, these are not mine. Dropped my girlfriend’s camera, so unfortunately I’m reliant on images swiped direct from Basil’s Facebook – if they don’t correspond to the dishes I describe, that’s the reason.
The Staff: taking care of the floor we find an immaculate young chap whose everything that the restaurant is: smooth, eloquent, well-spoken and quietly confident. Behind the scenes, so we are told, is Thanawat Na Nagara, a Thai exile whose long been associated with some of the most successful Asian kitchens in Poland.
The Menu: how many Thai restaurants are defined by doorstop menus that are Byzantine in complexity? Not this one. Basil’s menu is clear and concise, with four starters, three soups, two salads and a similar number of desserts. For mains there are three veg-based dishes, four noodle and rice options and then seven or so de facto mains. Of particular note, house specialties are highlighted with the restaurant logo. I like the clarity of it all, and for the first time ever I’m able to order Thai without reverting to a process more akin to random selection.
The Food: is pure bliss. Our dining is conducted out-of-sync (mains ordered for takeaway, and a dessert to share while we wait), but it’s remarkable nonetheless. The banana fritters have a nice crisp crunch, and a soft, gooey center that redefines joy. The tastes are delightfully offset by a homemade lime sorbet that’s sweet but not too tart. Just right. Washed down with a glass of house lime ice tea, we know that there won’t be any stutters once we get home and dig into the mains. So it proves. My yellow chicken curry is a gusto of flavors: sweet potato and a perfect sauce that doesn’t compromise on spice. The GF, meanwhile, swoons over her pad kee-mao: spicy stir fried noodles with beef and sweet basil leaves. “I’ve been looking for something like this ever since I visited Thailand four years ago,” she announces, “and now I’ve got it.”
The Bill: one dessert, two mains and two drinks – for that we pay a złoty short of 100 (not including tip). A fabulous price.
Overall: Basil and Lime is the kind of place that leaves you feeling good for long after. Everything goes right: food, service, ambiance, even the bill. In fact, I’m going to find it hard believing a bad experience is possible. Is it?
(Words: AW; Photos: Facebook)
Basil & Lime ul. Puławska 27, facebook