I still haven’t found a favorite Thai restaurant in the area, but it’s not because of a lack of effort. The latest effort was at Sweet Basil, a BYOB Thai restaurant that opened up last year in a tiny, PA strip mall just over the border from DE.
The interior is sparse, yet clean and elegant. Part of the sparseness if because two of the four walls are windows looking onto the parking lot. We sat a few feet from a line of SUVs with blinding headlights on our visit, and, from that experience, I’d strongly suggest the owners move the blinds from the top of the window to the middle of the window – and pull them down!
The menu at Sweet Basil looks abbreviated compared to the menu books you get at most Thai restaurants, because Sweet Basil does not place the same dish under five different meat headings like many restaurants. There is no vegetarian section, either; you have to ask. You’ll find most of your Thai favorites on Sweet Basil’s menu, though.
We tried to start with summer rolls, and asked our server if they could be prepared without shrimp, but she finished our sentence before we could, and laughed, saying that she gets that question all the time, and, no, they can’t. Hmm… if you get that question all the time, you might want to consider making summer rolls to order!
If only I could have coordinated the picture taking with the headlights...
From there, we ordered two of our favorite Thai dishes – Pad Thai and Massaman curry – and my litmus test for new Thai restaurants.
I had to ask for the Pad Thai to be made vegetarian. There was definitely fish sauce in the Pad Thai, but I accept fish sauce when dining out. If you don’t, of course you already know about fish sauce lurking in vegetarian Thai dishes, and to be very clear when ordering.
The pad Thai came with slices of chewy fried tofu, and the sauce was almost near perfect to my liking (I'm in the sweet and tangy camp), but perhaps a little too salty. I would have liked a lime to squeeze over the dish, and maybe a few more leaves of cilantro other than the few that were obviously decorative. Really, these are small qualms!
You have to ask for the Massaman curry to be made vegetarian, as well. Vegetarian Massaman curry usually has fried tofu, potatoes, onions, and nuts. Cubed silken tofu strangely showed up in this dish, along with a ton of onions, a couple of cashews, and nary a potato. Silken tofu is squishy and disgusting, that’s why fried tofu is king. We love onions, but this was too much, especially since some still had a raw edge. The scant sauce covering the plate was actually very good – just the right thickness and balance of coconut, sweet, and spicy.
Normally, the reason I can’t find a favorite Thai restaurant is because the sauce on pad Thai and Massaman curry is just not right for me. With Sweet Basil, the sauces were near perfect, but there were faults elsewhere.
I just can’t win, but I'm not a quitter!
Sweet Basil Thai Cuisine
275 Wilmington-West Chester Pike (US 202), Chadds Ford, PA, 19317
Tues.-Thurs, 11:30 a.m. -3 p.m. and ; Fri.-Sat., and ; Sun., noon-3 p.m. and , Mon., closed.