In a city filled with hearty Southern cuisine, sometimes it’s tricky to find a flavorful, light meal … especially this time of year (looking at you, pecan pie).
Not so at Basic Kitchen — according to co-owner Ben Towill that has been exactly the goal since opening the restaurant with his wife Kate in 2017. “We want to provide massive flavor and a meal that’s hearty but still feels light.”
Since taking over as Basic Kitchen executive chef in July, Robin Hollis has homed in on this mission by creating more wholesome dishes that highlight vegetables from local purveyors. The New Jersey native’s next big move was to create a new menu, “officially.”
You may have noticed that BK’s lunch menu is now divided into small plates, bowls, salads, sandwiches, and sweets. The dinner menu is organized the same way, with “big plates” replacing sandwiches, plus an aperitivo section with a handful of perfect pre-dinner libations.
Hollis plays with unexpected flavors and ingredients in her smattering of new, inventive dishes. Take her “beet balls” for instance. This vegan variation on looks, smells, and truly tastes like its classic beef cousin. Other new shareable plates include the patatas bravas-style crispy smashed Yukon golds with harissa aioli and the roasted carrot dip, complete with a cooling garlic yogurt topping.
For salads, the vegan wedge uses a cashew ranch that’s deceivingly simple. “I literally just soak a whole bunch of cashews and then purée them. I’m guessing a lot of people wouldn’t be able to tell there isn’t cheese in there,” says Hollis. The salad’s finishing touch is Hollis’ vegan riff on bacon — roasted coconut seasoned with smoked paprika and tamari. This can be found on the lunch menu along with new additions like Hollis’ cauliflower tacos. There are also fish tacos and a classic grass-fed burger for those who want to stick to something meatier.
As for dinner selections, Towill says, “We wanted to narrow our focus by adding more classical entrees, and Nathan Wentworth has enhanced our wine program by making it all natural, biodynamic wines.” Look for an airline chicken breast served with sweet corn polenta and a vegetable tagine made with freekah and chermoula. For a seasonal main, check out the rotating pasta dish, which is currently filled with rich flavors like roasted pumpkin and sage.
Don’t worry Basic Kitchen fans, you’ll still be able to stop in for a Basic Bowl or an order of tempura fried buffalo cauliflower wings at all hours of the day. “There will always be diners who just want to come in for a Basic Bowl, so we’ve enhanced it by adding curried chickpeas and making it more colorful,” says Hollis.
Basic Kitchen is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat., and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun.