Located on San Carlos Street in downtown Carmel, Basil Seasonal Dining offers a variety of farm-fresh options for hungry tourists and locals alike, with a particular twist on the traditional restaurant prototype.
All food is locally sourced and menu items are based solely on which ingredients are in season, ranging from wild mushrooms to fresh vegetables and sustainable seafood choices for the late summer.
One look at the menu, and the prices can be quite daunting, with small plates ranging from $12 to $19, and some seafood entrees costing upwards of $50. The intricate flavors and sustainable ingredients, however, compensate for the price.
Warm, fresh bread is served as customers await their meals, along with a side of pesto aioli, and water glasses are refilled as quickly as they are emptied. Servers check in with customers regularly and deliver specials with enthusiasm and character.
Upon dining at Basil for the first time, I selected the vegan vegetable plate, which featured an assortment of summer vegetables and wild mushrooms, complemented with beet ravioli and topped with carrot puree for a total of $23. The subtle sweetness of the carrot puree mixed beautifully with the charred flavor of the cauliflower to create a sensationally savory dish.
The business is co-owned by Chef Soerke Peters and Denis Boaro, who commit themselves to featuring only the freshest and most organic ingredients. Basil Seasonal Dining was also Carmel’s first restaurant to receive its Green Certification, declared by the Green Restaurant Association to identify and recognize environmentally friendly dining locations.
A long string of items comprises the prerequisite list for becoming a Certified Green Restaurant, including but not limited to composting, recycling and attaining a level of high water efficiency.
Reservations are often a smart idea, as the restaurant is quite popular and features a relatively limited number of seats, creating a wait time of about ten minutes even with reservations.
The outdoor seating reflects the quiet, cozy atmosphere of downtown Carmel, with small trees decorating a brick patio and several fire stands placed near the tables, while the restaurant’s interior features bright walls and dim lighting to create a unique impression for the customer, combining simple elegance with a comfortable ambience.
In order to compensate for the small interior, tables are pushed closely together, making space somewhat tight, but also adding to the lively, bustling atmosphere of the restaurant.
At the end of the night, customers are given an optional information card to fill out along with the check, which takes but a few seconds to complete and qualifies each person for a raffle prize.
Unlike many of the other shops or restaurants downtown, Basil Seasonal Dining stays open late, from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is also open on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., now with brunch items available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.