The word "baste" brings up thoughts of perfectly golden, crispy roasted chicken sizzling away in its juices and butter. I must have passed by Baste Gourmet Restaurant at 26 Garber Square a dozen times before deciding to dine there one evening. There are some definite victories for the new chicken restaurant run by the Axia Taverna restaurant team in Tenafly, particularly in what it specializes in. But there are also many flaws – from the food down to the service.
If you are visiting Baste for their specialty items – the Roasted Chicken and Charcoal Grilled Chicken – you won't be disappointed. The former is perfectly roasted with a golden crispy skin and is served with roasted potatoes and brussel sprouts, which isn't mentioned on the menu. The Charlcoal Grilled Chicken is prepared in a style that is very popular in a few Mediterranean countries. While the skin is charred and meat is tender, it does need half a lemon to be served alongside it to cut through the intense charcoal taste.
The Zucchini Fritters I ordered had a golden crust with a creamy texture on the inside, served with tzatziki dipping sauce. The sauce was particularly delicious, but was served in a ramekin that was too small to dip the fritters in, causing somewhat of a mess.
Of the salads they offer, I decided to try the Three Grain Tabouleh Salad. Salads come in two sizes, an individual size and family size, with choices of dressings and grilled toppings like grilled chicken breast, salmon, and portobello mushroom. The Three Grain Tabouleh salad promised bulgur, amaranth, quinoa, scallions, parsley, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice; however, what was presented was barely edible. The salad had hardly any seasoning at all, no mint, no scallions, hardly any parsley, and probably one droplet of lemon juice. The grains were completely mushy in texture and overall flavor of the salad was tasteless.
Baste was advertising its new sandwiches, and I decided to try The Mediterranean with chicken breast, smoked eggplant, roasted tomato, arugula, onion, feta, and basil oil served on a choice of bread. When the sandwich arrived and I picked it up to take a bite, liquid from the roasted tomato started dripping onto my plate and made the bottom slice of bread very soggy. Again, there was a lack of seasoning, no basil oil to be found anywhere, a couple of slices of red onion that weren't very crisp, and the combination of eggplant with the roasted tomato turned into mush. Overall, the sandwich was mediocre with none of the ingredients really standing out or enhancing the flavors of the other components.
Orzo with Lemon & Mezithra Cheese hardly had any seasoning and was desperate for some color to contrast the beige from the orzo and white from the cheese.
- Recommended Dishes
Charcoal Grilled Chicken or the Roasted Chicken both served with brussel sprouts and roasted potatoes, Zucchini Fritters served with a side of tzatziki sauce, Seven Spice Brown Butter Rice Pudding.
- Price Range
Small Bites, $7 to $9; Big Bites, $9 to $15; Salads, $6 for small size and $10 to $14 for large sizes; Roasted Chicken, $5.50 to $12; Charcoal Grilled Chicken, $12; Sides, $4.50 to $14; Kids Menu, $6 includes veggie sticks, juice box, and entrée; desserts, $6 to $10.
As I entered the restaurant, I noticed the menus on the table and proceeded to sit down for my order to be taken tableside. I quickly realized I was supposed to go up to the counter to place my order. This was definitely the first sign of the lack of clarity and consistency in the service at Baste. The most confusing part of the service experience for me would have to be the way you don't have to pay right away when you place your order. It doesn't make any sense because when you do finally pay for your order after eating, the cashier doesn't try to offer any dessert.
During my visits to Baste other inconsistencies exist such as some customers being served water and others not, and bringing out one set of silverware for two customers. Perhaps most disturbing is the lack of basic service standards - no welcoming, thanking, or even asking if customers enjoyed their food.
On each occasion I visited Baste, the music was so loud I could barely hear the person I was with. They also insist on having the TV on pretty loud while the music and kitchen are both noisy.
The decor is very country chic with colorful chickens, mirrors, and neutral tone wooden surfaces. The seating in Baste is also more aesthetic than comfortable. There are communal tables with stools, and single-seat hardwood booths, which are very awkward to get in and out of and slant backwards at a strangely uncomfortable angle.
Unless you're really in the mood for the roasted and grilled chicken specials, which are very good, there's not a whole lot else worthwhile at Baste. The restaurant has potential, but it has a lot of basic operational problems that first must be addressed.