At the height of the dot-com boom, I worked for a (very) hip web consultancy at the corner of 8th and Folsom. Every once in a while, a project manager might notice all of the hard work that we developers were doing and take us out to lunch–and Basil was a very popular choice with both the benefactors and the beneficiaries. Managers liked it because a) it was REALLY close to the office (gotta keep these geeks close to their workstations!), and b) not too expensive. We proles liked it because it was reasonably hip (not as hip as we were, obviously), and had the highest quality food of anyplace within the Acceptable Lunch Destination Radius, commonly understood to be three blocks.
Nearly ten years(!) later, Tracey and I found ourselves in the neighborhood after a surgical strike on Costco, and I suggested that we give it a shot. So glad that I did. While the venue itself is looking a bit worn around the edges (would it be so difficult to repaint the men’s room?), the food is as good at ever. While I can’t say that we ever encountered presentation like this when we visited Thailand, the flavors and freshness are spot-on. We chose to share a large bowl of Tom Kha Gai (nice strong lime flavor) and the Peppercorn Duck (I’ve never eaten whole green peppercorns before, but they’re lovely! Even when surrounded by too much non-crispy duck skin.) The highlight of the meal was definitely the Stuffed Eggplant, though. Perfectly cooked eggplant wrapped around spiced, minced chicken, surrounded by a pool of mild green curry sauce. I’d order it again in a heartbeat.
I’m very glad to see that the Basil crew is still turning out food as great as I remember, and very intrigued to see mention of a new location just down the street. It’s not clear whether this will supplement or replace the old location, but we are definitely going to have to swing by and check it out.
1175 Folsom Street between 7th and 8th
San Francisco, CA 94103