In a word: The Thai of your life.
The specs: #0659
6714 Raymond Rd., Madison
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Ruppert Food Blog, Insider Pages, Yahoo! Travel, Yelp, The Sunday Chef; listing at Eat Drink Madison; official web site,
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JM ate the shrimp pad thai.
Nichole ate the beef larb with salad rolls.
The bill was $27, or $13.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave a Thai Basil an A-; Nichole gave Thai Basil an A (see our grading rubric).
Thai Basil on Raymond Road is a gem. Their dinner menu has lots of Thai favorites, from drunken noodles to the wickedly named "Evil Jungle Noodle." The lunch menu is an abridged version, with 16 popular dishes plus rice and an egg roll starting at $7.
We called ahead to place our dinner order, and it was waiting for us when we arrived at the strip mall storefront even though we had sped right over. The seating capacity of the dining room is probably 4, but would have been a pleasant place to wait, brightly decorated and lit, and the staff was super friendly.
The beef larb used chopped, thin slices instead of ground beef, and fresh red onions, scallions, mint and cilantro. The dish was hot as it was supposed to be from judicious use of red pepper flakes, and was moistened by lime and its own juices (as opposed to drowning in them). The leftover sauce was so good we wished we'd not forgotten to order sticky rice*. A side of flawless alabaster cabbage leaves was cut into the perfect size for scooping/pinching up the solids but missed the sauce.
The "salad roll" of more cabbage strips, carrots, and toasted tofu was tucked expertly into a double jacket of spring roll wrapper and a cool green lettuce leaf. It came with a side of peanut sauce.
The pad thai was reliable and tasty with standard shrimp. The side/garnish of shredded vegetables and the crumbled peanuts were very nice and everything was fresh.
Granted, these are two of our favorite dishes, but they were so conscientiously done that we'll be back for more.
*A later visit confirmed some stuff: 1) sticky rice is not on the menu per se but if you ask for it plain, and not sweetened as for their mango dessert, you can get it, and this is interesting; 2) the tom yum is redolent with fresh ginger and the egg rolls are small and precision-rolled; and 3) the menu has changed recently (tip of the pen to MM).