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Baste Gourmet Fizzles, Not Sizzles

Too many inconsistencies at the new gourmet chicken restaurant on Garber Square

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.

Food

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.

Service

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.

  • Atmosphere

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.

Conclusion

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.

RdgwdGRock November 11, 2011 at 01:37 AM
"It's Frickin' Chicken" sounds like a great name for a chix chain. Only various types of chickin lickin goodness; no sides, no nuttin else.
parlamis November 13, 2011 at 01:34 PM
Thank you to all for your comments and feedback on Ms.Ghazaleh's reviews of Baste. As an owner of the restaurant and resident of Glen Rock, I was happy to see active discussion. Ms Ghazaleh offered some interesting opinions and critiques, all of which the management team plans to take into account. Despite Ms Ghazaleh's personal opinion, we have been overwhelmed with positive feedback from Rigewood locals. She makes certain points that may be suited only to her perspective - like that our orzo screams for color. This is an item intended for children and in general, children do not like the look or taste of spices and garnishes. While the zucchini fritters and sandwiches may not be to Ms Ghazaleh's liking, they are certainly winning rave reviews from others - and we invite you to try them for yourself. Come in any time from now until the end of November and ask for the "Patch Special" and try the fritters or sandwiches 25% off. We value each and every visitors opinion and look forward to a long and successful relationship with the community. - Christine Parlamis - christine@bastegourmet.com
Gail Job November 14, 2011 at 03:13 AM
We have ordered from Baste a few times within the last three weeks and have not been disappointed. The roasted chicken is juicy and seasoned perfectly and it is served with grilled brussels sprouts and sliced potatoes. The jasmine rice is delicious and the fritters are amazing. And I love the idea of communal tables! Bravo to this new establishment.
Todd Post November 17, 2011 at 06:59 PM
That's not true any more Laurie. Blogs, Twitter and YouTube are merely media, just like newspapers, radio and television. They are just a means to an end. Validity is based on the content, not the medium. I grew up in Ridgewood, but work in DC now and one of the more influential food writers is a blogger who maintains http://www.metrocurean.com. She's not any less legitimate because she's not Tom Sietsema from the Washington Post. Or look at Ree Drummond, who parlayed her Pioneer Woman blog into a Food Network show. Just working for one of the old media outlets doesn't make you any more legitimate as a journalist than someone using digital media.
Master Baste March 09, 2012 at 08:26 AM
They need to turn that into a grill type of setting with a open wood grill maybe downgrade the store a little its just to flashy for a take out place it pitiful but people only want to listin to the person there paying to make there vision a reality chicken liver mosse really u got to be kinding no as u know there are two pizza places and one bagel/breakfast place on that side of the tracks a chicken place in the middle not to mention a corner store next to it this should be on Resturant impossible. Also the store had no cameras u could rob the place with a gun and get away this was a very losse sett up that they had here they need to step up there game with the next one legit legit legit....

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