In the dying embers of 2009, Graeme and I managed to cram in our last ‘date night’ of the year on 30th December with a trip to the flicks and some eats. Sherlock Holmes was showing, and where better to see it than a modern glass-fronted behemoth, situated conveniently across the street from the great (Fictional? Ha!) detective’s commemorative statue on Picardy Place. To keep with the theme, how could you resist a late lunch in The Conan Doyle pub? Well, actually we managed to resist very easily. Having walked into the bar, which was packed by the way, we were quite chuffed to have found a window table. We sat down, had a look at the menu, and then realised, that kind of freakishly, hardly anyone in the whole place was talking. Perhaps we were two minutes late for something really exciting, but a cursory glance of the menu didn’t suggest we’d be missing much on the food front.
A quick hop accross to Broughton Street, and we figured The Basement would be a good shot. Oh yes, the place was busy, and people seemed not only to be alive, but were clearly enjoying themselves. The presmises are, as the name suggests, a basement, with a series of cellar type rooms. The decor is a mite dingy, so it’s quite a nice touch that the staff wear super loud Hawaiian shirts. Keeps the place as cheery looking as their attitude comes accross.
The booze list is nothing short of epic, and I definitely want to be heading back here again for party kind of night. The selection of rum was pretty exciting looking. On this occasion , we settled for a couple of totally unseasonable Magners ciders. I know it’s snowing outside, but you still have to put ice in it, right?
Food-wise, they were running a slightly limited festive menu, but it was still chokka with lots of nice homestyle dishes like soup of the day, fish pie, and some ‘Mexicana’-style offerings like burritos, nachos and chilli con carne. We decided to share some olives to get the taste buds going, and I have to say, the taste buds thought they’d just won the lotto jackpot. I don’t know where these people are getting their olives, but I’m quite happy to vouch for them being the tastiest and juciest green queen, and black olives I think I’ve ever had. Graeme, a man who up until 12 months ago would have paid good money to never have to eat the little blighters, was offering up some severe challenges in the eating race. The bastard. I could have happily eaten a few kilos of these. Top tip, save the bread until the olives are finito. Drizzle the left-over olive oil onto the bread and yum yum yum.
G had a really good looking beef and Merlot pie, which came with a filling cheesy mash, and was scarfed down in a matter of minutes. I had the chicken burrito which was stufffed with nice softly cooked meat, and had a good wee kick without being ‘blow your head off’ spicy. This was served with some tasty rice and a nice side-salad that had a great house dressing. A total feast and neither dish more than £8.
It was decided then and there that I love this place and as I often promise but don’t always get round to quite so quickly, I would be back. We’ll we were back within 4 weeks. Our Red Sea holiday was amazing, and filled with sunshine, snorkelling and all inclusive buffet. No matter how good the eats are on holiday, there’s always something you’re going to get a hankering for after a week. For me it was steak. A nicely cooked, juicy, steak. So, our first Friday back from hols, and we decided to extend the fun and head out for some food. My first thoughts were…hmmm…grilled steak…rocket…chips. Let’s check out The Basement again.
So we went for the olives again (bien sur) and some hummous to start. Loved the hummous too, a really nice natural and not too acidic flavour, of which the supermarket versions are often guilty of. For the main, this time G had some amazing looking combo of chicken, black pudding, potatoes and little mushrooms, in a nice tarragon sauce. Again, it vanished in a short time frame, so I guess the vote was ‘hit’. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the sirloin steak. The only gripe was a slight stinginess in the quantity of accompanying rocket/flat leaf parsley as garnish, but otherwise it was top dollar.I drizzled the nice pepper sauce over the ‘sautéed’ potatoes AKA posh chips, and there was plenty enough for the steak too. An absolute bargain at £12.95.
I have to say, I’m quite excited that I’ve rediscovered this place. It’s gets a really high and well earned vote from me, for somewhere that is confident to ignore the waning trends of the over-priced, over-styled and under-substanced. To paraphrase the Etta James tune, The Basement definitely seems to be where it’s at.