Friday, September 02, 2005

Basque Norte

Basque Norte
That is the name of the restaurant where I enjoyed my birthday celebration. It’s located on the Esplanade, at the north end of the city; hence the name, “Norte”. It has been a part of the Chico restaurant scene for many years and I suppose if I were to research its history, I would find that it has been a very popular destination for all of those years, serving tasty steaks to thousands of Chico residents. How else could they survive, located as they are on the fringes of the city?

The décor is definitely “old steakhouse” and surprisingly, not Basque at all. Almost all Basque restaurants copy the boardinghouse fashion of communal tables, but here we had individual tables. The menu was fairly simple and steak was prominent; so that was my choice. I ordered the petite cut of sirloin.

The meal begins with a soup course, a tomato garlic soup that could have benefited from a little less garlic and a little more tomato. Some additional spice would have been good.

The salad was simple, lettuce, tomato and onion. That was followed by a pasta dish that was quite tasty, although I wondered why the vermicelli pasta had been cut into pieces? And though the pasta was advertised as pasta with sausage, I didn’t spot any sausage at all.

The entrée arrived with an accompaniment of potatoes and green beans. These were simply great! I could have had a complete meal with just those two items. The beans were not overcooked as they so often are and the potatoes had been boiled to perfection and not a second more. The steak had been marinated, which often gives the meat a “sameness” that doesn’t quite excite the palate; and that was the case here. It was good…but not spectacular. (I heard that the halibut was quite good!)

After dinner, it was time for the dessert dish of ice cream (included). And, since it was my birthday, I was honored with a small slice of cake, complete with flaming candle. Actually, I was doubly honored, as the cake, an amaretto mousse, was one of the most delicious desserts I have had in a long time!

The best part of the dinner? Being surrounded by my family. Absolutely!

Now to rate it…All in all, a very good dinner and I would give Basque Norte 3 ½ stars as a steakhouse. But Basque…it’s not.

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