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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.

JV November 07, 2011 at 10:24 PM
A restaurant opens, and if it is lucky, it gets reviewed. A smart owner addresses the issues, if there are any, that might have lead to a poor review. Is it now really necessary even to intimate that the Chamber of Commerce is responsible for how businesses are actually run, or that it should be contacted before someone is allowed to offer an opinion? The reviewer visited, ate, and offered a review. That's the way it works. If people disagree, then they can patronize the restaurant and sustain it as a community asset. This seems more like a stereotypical instance of nothing negative ever tolerated being said about anything in Ridgewood because "we" don't like that. Being honest hardly equates to being nasty.
Marcia Ringel November 07, 2011 at 10:49 PM
According to one photo caption, the restaurant has too many consistencies. They'll have to work on that.
James Kleimann November 07, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Caption should have read, "...too many inconsistencies." It's been corrected.
Boyd A. Loving November 07, 2011 at 11:10 PM
I am absolutely aghast that an elected official of our community would suggest a media organization "deep six" a negative restaurant review. The next thing you know someone at Village Hall will be suggesting that Patch stop posting all reports of motor vehicle vs. pedestrian accidents. Freedom of the press is still in effect, is it not?
Alan Seiden November 07, 2011 at 11:33 PM
The main problem here seems to be the title ("Baste Gourmet Fizzles, Not Sizzles"), which is a complete put-down, perhaps created to show off the fizzle/sizzle rhyme. The article itself presents both positive and negative points with suggested improvements for the restaurateur. The reader can read and decide. The title, however, is simply mean.
Bernadette Walsh November 08, 2011 at 12:09 AM
For the record Boyd, my comment was based as a mother whose kids love their chicken. My second comment was made as a critique of PATCH since it appears all of their prior reviews, via James' link were positive. Didn't say deep six it, just have more care in reporting. And again, for those that haven't tasted their food, go over try it and decide for yourself.
limabean November 08, 2011 at 01:01 AM
we ate their the other day and it is unsanitary. People using their fingers to wipe off the mashed potato from the river and the cook used his tongs with raw chicken to stir fry the brussel sprouts. Done.
Dan Johnson November 08, 2011 at 02:51 AM
limabean. Washout ur mouth and hire a copy editor. Loving you of all people should support freedom of expression. Seldon. Well said. The sophomoric article was nasty but the headline was mean. James you need to change the hed.
Laurie Goodman November 08, 2011 at 03:55 AM
This is sort of a mind-blowing conversation I just stumbled on...I agree with Mr. Loving and JV, it's not the local press's job to only publish "good" news or positive reviews or support local business. I find it quaint (and also frightening) that someone would still think that. Reviews are OPINION pieces, people. I love the concept of reader engagement and grassroots "reporting" afforded by sites like Patch, but I'm also sad for journalism.
Boyd A. Loving November 08, 2011 at 05:01 AM
Every Friday in its "Better Living" section, The Record publishes a listing of food estalishment inspections. Reports are provided to The Record by local health departments and listed by municipality. Listings are limited to those food establishments that receive either "Unsatisfactory," "Conditionally Satisfactory," or "Satisfactory on Reinspection" evaluations. More often than not, the report from Ridgewood is simply listed as: "no activity reported." In light of some comments above concerning the support of local businesses, I wonder now whether details related to "Conditionally Satisfactory" and "Unsatisfactory" evaluations are ever forwarded to The Record for publication.
sandy November 08, 2011 at 12:33 PM
I agree with Mr. Loving. We walked down Broad to find a place for Sunday lunch on a nice Fall day. Every door was open to the outside, no screens! When we finally broke down and ate, the place was FULL of flies, landing on both food and drinks. Sanitary Inspection was certainly called for in all the restaurants!.
Michael November 08, 2011 at 12:54 PM
Mr. Loving, while I am not a conspiracy theorist, I have noticed the same about the evaluations seem scant in the Record about Ridgewood. There are establishments in town that are woefully out of compliance but are overlooked when the inspector comes around because they are 'fixtures'. Next time you patronize an eatery in the CBD, take a look around.
Terry Hunter November 08, 2011 at 03:02 PM
James I'm a bit confused as to why you had to point out Ms. Walsh is indeed, a councilwoman (I don't live in Ridgewood anymore and don't care personally...). I feel she is allowed an opinion without her "title" being brought up... Having said that...councilwoman...shame on the snarky remarks...keep it professional...even if you are a "mother" your public view radiates everywhere...backpeddling on the fact you are viewing this as a "mother" doesn't justify...your opinion isn't the do all, end all...just saying your experience and how your kids like it would have been sufficient. Sometimes bad reviews can only strengthen...only the strong will survive...
RdgwdGRock November 08, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Love that Popeyes! Esp the spicey chicken!
Carmenvail November 10, 2011 at 12:34 AM
I cant even begin to state how wrong this ( what is this anyway a review? ) article is. First off it is prefaced in a negative light, Fizzles not Sizzles. Really? Just looking at this article and the way it is written is shameful. It’s a charcoal chicken, of corse it has a charcoal flavor. You obviously don’t know how to eat judging from the mess you made dipping your fritter into a small ramekin, might I suggest a spoon to extract the sauce from the ramekin thereby making less of a mess. Perhaps you would have been happier with a dry sandwich that didn’t drip as much. You obviously are contradictory in your belief that the charcoal chicken was too intense flavored, yet later in your article you recommended it under your recommended dishes. Then further saying that in your opinion the grilled chicken was “very good” in your conclusion. Actually the only thing I find tasteless is the fact that you even wrote this article. Any time my family and I have been to Baste we have had a positive experience, the food is honest delicious and a great value for mothers who don’t have the time it takes to cook but would like to feed their family holism food. As far as operational problems are concerned, you have some operational problems ( judging from your amateurish article ) that you need to work on as well. Along with your correction in the photo caption you should practice writing your articles from a neutral stance. Then try to not contradict yourself.
Joe November 10, 2011 at 12:59 AM
Wow, Carmenvail: Do you seriously not know the definition of a "restaurant review?" It's made up of a reviewer's opinions -- which (hang on to your hat) -- may not agree with your personal opinions. Here's another clue: if you look at the top of this page, the article is posted under: Opinion: Business: Reviews. Did you see that first word? OPINION? Need to look it up? Here you go, courtesy dictionary.com: "a personal view, attitude, or appraisal." Now, if you'd like to critique (or REVIEW) this writer's work in terms of the structure of the review and what you allege to be "contradictions," perhaps you could first enlighten us with your journalistic credentials. Are you an experienced journalist? Do you work as an editor? Do you teach in a journalism school? Do tell. And we're curious: Do you also quibble with theater reviews in the newspaper? Do you send angry emails to Zagat? Do you flame Yelp posters and call their judgment into question? This is America, we're kind of famous for our free speech here. Thank goodness we still have opinion "pages" in our newspapers and online media.
Dan Johnson November 10, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Joe, you hit the nail right on the head---with a sledgehammer. (and you hit the wrong head.) You ask all the right questions but you pointed them at the wrong person. What are the credentials of the reviewer. I suspect that she is not an experiences journalist. And while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, some opinions are worth more than others. Just what are this reviewers credentials. I suspect they are not much. (Having read many restaurant reviews over the years, I don't think I have ever seen one talk about a restaurants 'clarity' as she does. And the fizzzle/sizzle hed is definitely over the top but what you would expect for an amatuer. As to the Yelp comparison. The worse thing to base a restaurant decision is is individual Yelp reviews. Zagat gets it right. Crowd source it. Yes this reviewer has a right to her opinion. But don't try to pass it off as a professional journalistic restaurant review. That 'review' was not written by an experienced journalist. But today I guess anyone can be a reviewer.
Joe November 10, 2011 at 03:53 AM
Well, hopefully the reviewer will declare her journalistic credentials if she has any. However, your points are well taken -- and are actually more broadly applicable to the Patch concept itself. Every day more and more non-journalists "play them" online. It is silly for us to expect that everything we read online (on Patch) adheres to journalistic standards or quality reporting best practices. People, take Patch for what it is -- a big open forum where ANYONE WHO WANTS can post "news," reviews, opinions, stories, announcements, whatever. Most posters are not hired by Patch or overseen by editors or trained by experienced journalists. It is what it is and I find that if I keep that in mind as I read the Patch, it (usually) keeps my blood pressure down. (Not to mention, feedback like this comment thread may influence the writer and could improve her future work. Sort of like "natural selection" for reporting.)
Joe November 10, 2011 at 03:55 AM
I should add that the Ridgewood Patch does have one actual reporter, and I do hold his stories to higher standards since he is supposed to be a "real" journalist.
RdgwdGRock November 10, 2011 at 12:23 PM
Geeez...all this hub-bub about a restaurnat? It is a review. Customers can vote with their $$$$. There are Broadway shows that are panned, but the coustomers still show up (such as Spiderman).
Anonymous Guy November 10, 2011 at 04:16 PM
As a frequent eater in the CBD, I have to agree, take a look around sometime when you're eating in some of the "established" restaurants. There are some places I wont go back to, wether it be service, cleanliness, or food quality. I plan to put Baste on my list and will post MY OPINON, just as the reporter reported HER OPINON. Has no one ever read a movie review that said a movie was lousy but had seen it for yourself and loved it? Opinons, every one has one and they are entitled to theirs! I think people reading the article got the writers opinon and I know after reading all of these comments I see others have a different opinon. Being an educated consumer, ill go formulate my own.
Todd Post November 10, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Unfair review? Given the 2.5 stars out of 5 on Yelp (http://www.yelp.com/biz/baste-ridgewood), it doesn't appear that the author is alone. Some of those reviews are more harsh than the headline, which is basic journalistic "flair" to make for a catchy headline to entice readers. Implying that a reviewer needs to contact the owner or invoking the Chamber of Commerce demonstrates ignorance of how restaurant reviews work. They are entitled to their opinion and readers are entitled to disagree with them, but be sure to disagree with the opinion rather than engaging in ad hominem attacks. Calling people amateurs or calling into question their "journalistic credentials" demonstrates ignorance as well in a world of social media where anyone can blog, tweet, produce shows on YouTube, etc., which makes the old definitions obsolete. You don't have to be a newspaper, radio or television reporter these days to be a journalist.
Laurie Goodman November 10, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Blogging, tweeting or uploading videos to YouTube only makes you a blogger, tweeter (if that's a word), or YouTube user. It does NOT make you a journalist. Just like playing with a hose doesn't make you a firefighter. That's the best analogy I can come up with right now, but my point is: journalism is a real thing. With real standards, skills and ethics.
sean mccooe November 10, 2011 at 10:35 PM
http://yelpingwithcormac.tumblr.com/ YELP AWAY
Ecsammym November 11, 2011 at 12:45 AM
It's frickin' chicken, people! Save your energy for important stuff. Yeesh.
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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