Monday, 24 August 2015

Basil Pasta Bar

Years ago, when I lived just off The Drive, my then-boyfriend (is there a sadder term? I think not) and I would often go to a pasta bar and order large, cheap styrofoam containers full of pasta and sauce rather than have to endure the monotony of cooking and cleaning in our tiny galley-style apartment kitchen. The restaurant did have some tables, and we ate in from time to time, but ambiance wasn't its strong suit. I remember watching the cooks multi-task right in front of us: pouring olive oil and chicken in one sizzling pan, giving another one a practiced toss before food started to burn, pouring a finished pan's contents into the to-go container. The name of that place eludes me (and Google has been no help tonight), but I remember that Friday-night band practice would end, and my boyfriend or I would pronounce its name with an interrogative uplift in our voices, and more often than not, the other would smile and agree heartily. 

Strolling up Yew Street tonight I noticed Basil Pasta Bar, and my nostalgia for that pasta place kicked in hard. I locked up my bike, walked in, and ordered. It's a hell of a deal: $7.95 gets you pasta, protein, veggies, herbs and sauce. And here's the kicker: it's UNLIMITED. That's right- you can have as much meat or veg as you want, although extras will sometimes cost a small amount more. 
     In honour of my favorite dish in my pasta-y past, I ordered penne with pesto, salmon, peas, spinach and capers, topped with parmesan cheese. A few short minutes later, it was handed to me, and off I rode. 
     As you can see, even though it had to withstand a short bike ride home, the dish is fairly pretty, and it looked way better served in the huge white bowls for diners eating in at Basil. I was pleased with how generous they had been with everything: there's lots of basil and almost too much cheese. Plenty of salmon, too.  The portion was generous, but I ate it all in two sittings: dinner, and about half an hour later. My mistake was ordering the capers, as they made the entire dish too salty. Either the smoked salmon was already headed in that direction, or the capers were cooked with it, and sent it over the edge. At any rate, the nice sweet peas were a much-needed contrast and next time I'd just say ix-nay on the apers-cay.
     And there will be a next time, I'm sure. I'll probably dine in, too, given Basil's very appealing location and decor. The fact that they're located right across the street from theold Da Pasta Bar location (another long-gone favorite of mine from-gulp!- twenty years ago) is another nostalgic detail in its favour, as far as I'm concerned. Yew Street's been needing a cheap pasta restaurant, and Basil delivers in spades (and yes, they do deliver for real as well, within an impressively large range of distance). But I'd say eat in if you can. They have daily chef's specials and they're licenced. Buon Appetito. 
Basil Pasta Bar is located at 1602 Yew St. in Kitsilano (they also have a Davie Street location). 

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