Long lines out the door are what confront most tribes in Baristaville who are out foraging for weekend brunch. Clearly, there should be more chefs cooking breakfasts for the hungry masses…Well, our family found one, just over the hill, where the biggest problem isn’t the wait – it’s deciding which of the mouth-watering items on the menus (yes, there are two full menus) to order.
Alan Platt is at the helm of Sweet Basil Cafe, in West Orange, which doubles as his catering headquarters. For 14 years, his signature chicken salads, and and healthy gourmet sandwiches are have been the cornerstones of his lunch following (try the grilled ahi & arugula or the mayan shrimp). Five months ago, he opened for breakfast whipping up an elaborate selection of egg dishes, and working his magic on the griddle with fluffy pancakes, french toast, and Belgian waffles. With so many choices, it would be smart to experience Sweet Basil with a crowd, or just return, very, very often.
The pancake and waffle menu was seductive, again presenting some hard food choices. We opted for two divine-tasting brunch specials which should be on everyone’s obligatory brunch list: almond crusted french toast, moist and rich, is flavored with almond liqueur and has a custardy taste similar to a Parisian almond croissant. The peach-berry pancake special, a beautiful burst of color, was not too sweet (there’s maple syrup for that) – the plate-size cakes were slathered with a fresh peach, strawberry, raspberry and blueberry melange. Our table also devoured the amazing gourmet sampler – which brought a very ample serving of vanilla baguette, multi-grain, and blueberry-cream cheese french toast. The last dish to come out of the kitchen was organic stone ground whole wheat pancakes, sweetened with a touch of honey – a nice guilt-free alternative but still a splurge topped with yogurt, fruit, and a sprinkling of granola.
Completely and pleasantly satiated, we missed out on the Funky Monkey (chocolate chips, nuts, and bananas in buttermilk pancakes) and the Georgia Peach Waffle (topped with flambeed peaches, blueberries, and vanilla ice cream). Those will have to wait…until tomorrow, because brunch at Sweet Basil’s is an every day option.