Friday, 19 March 2010

Sweet Basil review - a family run Italian restaurant on the fringes of Spitalfields Market


Address: 65A Brushfield Street,
London E1 6AA
Tel: 020 7375 3484
Nearest Tube station: Liverpool Street

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £20 pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: **
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
Suitable for: a relaxing dinner with pals
or a quiet meal for two
We were still nursing our jetlag even after a week or so after our 13 hour direct flight from home and preparing dinner was the last thing on our minds. We were in the Spitalfields area when Wife had a craving for pasta. We spent some time strolling around the place, which was surprisingly quiet even for a weekday evening - we found out later that there was the Chelterham Race and St. Patrick's Day just round the corner so it might be due to that.

Those familiar with Spitalfields would agree that the area has got an interesting mix of eateries and restaurants. Brick Lane, which is a mere stone's throw away, has a huge variety of quirky fueling stops not to mention a host of Bangladeshi curry restaurants. Not only that, you have Hawksmoor (definitely one of the best steak place I've been to) and St. John's Bread and Wine along Commercial Road. And that's not counting the restaurants within Spitalfields Market itself.

Sweet+Basil+review+London+Spitalfields+Italian+restaurant+pizza+pasta

In short, we were spoilt for choice. We had walked past Sweet Basil a couple of times before but didn't have the chance to try it so we decided to give it a go this time round.

There was a notice outside saying that the pizzeria is above the main restaurant so I popped my head into the restaurant and asked for the directions to the pizzeria. "Oh, we serve pizzas in the same place as well!" a staff beamed. Nice. Wife and I promptly stepped into the almost empty restaurant.

After visiting quite a number of eating places, I came to realise something - it's often not the food or ambience that matters but the service. More often than not, it's the service that will entice you back again and again. If anything, Sweet Basil's service was genuine and attentive if the food is half decent. Sweet Basil's website introduced the Italian restaurant as family run, perhaps that was why.

Truth to be told, we have had better pasta and pizza elsewhere (Tenore for example). The spaghetti gamberetti  (£13.75), with its shrimps and slightly spicy tomato base, was hardly inspiring. Unfortunately, I couldn't very well recall the name of the pizza I ordered but it came with a egg (sunny side up) on it with spinach strewn across the surface. Honestly, spinach doesn't go well with pizzas. Period. I should really have gone for some of the safer choices like margherita maybe.

Halfway through our meal, more customers streamed in. There was a group of around six, which came in with a toddler. They seemed to be regulars as the staff were exchanging warm pleasantries with them. The mother promptly handed her toddler over to the staff, who began carrying her around, gently tossing her to her delight as her family gathered around a long table.

At that moment, I felt as if we were having our dinner in a huge family dining hall instead of a proper restaurant (with nice ambience to boot) on the fringes of Spitalfields Market.

Sweet Basil on Urbanspoon

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