Apr 20, 2010

Back in time to Basils

soft-shell crab

I'm taking a break from our Seattle and Vancouver trip adventures to share a decadent treat with you. My husband hasn't lived in Austin as long as I have so there are some old Austin classics that he never got the chance to experience. One of my long gone favorites is Basils - the sweet little Italian restaurant in a cottage that used to be at 10th & Lamar. This was back in the day before Austin had such a bounty of culinary offerings. Basils was such a treat — consistently excellent food in a cozy, warm, inviting atmosphere. It was a special occasion destination without being too flashy. A friend and I, who shared birthdays the same week, used to go there for a birthday splurge every year.

This week, Aquarelle is offering Basils fans an opportunity to travel back in time and enjoy some of their old favorite dishes from Basils' menu. Tonight, I got the chance to share with my husband some of my favorite dishes that he never got to experience. What a treat! The perfect setting for a fancy date night.

The folks at Aquarelle told me that a lot of their staff are former Basils employees and they get a lot of requests for Basils dishes. So this week, they've put together a special Basils favorites menu. For $35/person, you get to put together your own choices from the menu of favorites for a 3-course meal.

Here are a few of our choices. Sorry for the progressively grainier images (iPhone).

From the antipasti choices, we had my old favorite, the soft shell crab (photo at top) — crunchy with panko and served with blue cheese aioli. Even better than I remember it.

My husband tried the salsiccia marciana — housemade Italian sausage with red peppers, melted mozzarella and a kicky marinara.

housemade sausage

Then I had to have my all-time Basils favorite, paglia e fieno — egg and spinach fettuncine with salty bites of prosciutto and mushrooms in the richest cream sauce of all time. It was so thick I could hardly twirl it around my fork. Pure decadence!

straw and hay fettucine

My husband had the spinach ravioli stuffed with three cheeses alongside the ultimate essence of tomato sauce — how do they get the tomato sauce so perfectly balanced?

We could have stopped here. But we were both seduced by another of my old favorites, the pesce angelica — Red Snapper topped with fresh crab, artichokes and a mustard cream sauce. Heaven!

Tomorrow (4/21) is the last night for the Basils menu offerings. But don't despair if you can't get there in time, the waiter told me they're considering doing it again this summer.

See the full menu offered here. Your choice of three courses for $35.

606 Rio Grande

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