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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Portland
Food
Feel
Price
5.9
7.0
$25
Thai
Casual restaurant

Hours
Mon–Thu 11:30am–2:30pm
Mon–Thu 5:00pm–9:00pm
Fri 11:30am–2:30pm
Fri 5:00pm–10:00pm
Sat 5:00pm–10:00pm
Sun 5:00pm–9:00pm

Features Kid-friendly, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Not accepted

www.sweetbasilor.com

Northwest Portland
1639 NW Glisan St.
Portland, OR
(503) 473-8758

Northeast Portland
3135 NE Broadway
Portland, OR
(503) 281-8337
Sweet Basil
Run-of-the-mill Thai that leaves its mark—just not in the way you would like

Although this Thai restaurant has a real following, its cuisine is pretty cookie cutter Thai-American.

Rice is molded into cutesy shapes, curry is saccharine sweet, and pad Thai is forgettable. Overcooking is a rampant problem here, as everything from scallops to shrimp to beef is rendered chewy and tough. There are some cool moves, though, like “forbidden rice,” a nuttier black rice we normally only see in upscale Modern American restaurants. Of course, it’s made into a star shape. Prepare for some really artful platings. Everything is scalloped and stacked and zig-zagged, but not in an outdated way; it’s actually very nice.

Dine outside on the patio of the pinkish-red Broadway location if you can; it’s shaded by a lanai covered with leafy vines, and the tables are actually clothed, instead of the cheap plastic or wire furniture you normally find on Thai patios. Inside, it’s mad with color but cursed with perfunctory, often absent service.

At least the kitchen doesn’t wuss out on spice. But offering a scale for diners to choose their desired level of heat from is pointless if everything comes out like a spice crapshoot (no pun). The level of intensity in Thai chilies can be extremely variable—cooks have to be able to tell by size, shade, and firmness how hot that pepper is going to be. Here, it seems to just throw in a certain number, and lower it for more sensitive people. But one of those things at super strength can equal four at the expected intensity. At least something on the table will be memorable.

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