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.

AlmondToast.jpgIf your breakfast means protein, there are a dozen omelettes, frittatas and scrambles to choose from: we wavered on the wild mushroom truffle omelette, but went fot the hearty Spanish scramble. Chorizo, potato, tomato, and cheddar are gently folded into perfectly moist and fluffy eggs, served with a side of salsa and earthy-crunchy multigrain toast. The Roma – with tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella, was also a runner-up for our next visit, as are the “Benedicts” which come with Canadian bacon, chicken sausage, crab cake, or smoked salmon.
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.
PeachBerryPancakes.jpgCompletely 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.
Sweet Basil coffee is a low acid mellow organic from Nicaragua; there’s also exotic teas. On each visit, we’ve enjoyed the laid back feel and Latino flavored jazz and low buzz in the sunny dining room. Don’t wait for the weekend, go now and savor brunch or lunch, just three minutes down the hill from Whole Foods West Orange, at 641 eagle Rock Way. 973-325-3340.

14 replies on “Sweet Basil’s Cafe & Grill”

  1. Wow! My mother and I went to Sweet Basil’s back when they first opened. Food was good and owner was very nice. Lost track over the years. Hope to return soon. Thanks for the update.

  2. HOLY CRAP! This is awesome! I don’t like Toast and Raymond’s doesn’t serve breakfast after 11 on weekdays. So you’re saying all this fabulous food is served until 3pm daily? YESSSSSSSSSSS. And it sounds freaking delicious. Eggs Benedict, here I come. Probably also the French toast. In these situations, I like to talk whoever is with me (usually Mark) into splitting two meals, that way we can try more than one.

  3. Actually — having eaten here — the menu really is original. I’d never tasted almond crusted French Toast in all of my travels, nor the blue berry stuffed French Toast with the cream cheese inside — these were simply delicious!!

  4. Noooo–Now it’s going to be harder to get a table! : )
    We went here two weeks ago after not having been here for several years, and it was still very good. It’s too bad they aren’t open for dinner anymore, though, as it limits my ability to get over there.

  5. Joanne,
    If you started serving my favorite eggs benedict in the world (yours) after 11am, I will be there everyday of the week…

  6. Went there over the weekend and have to say was seriously disappointed. Cute spot and obviously a lot of TLC went into it, and the people there are very friendly. Unfortunately my food was nothing special. And even though the place was empty my eggs and toast were nearly cold. Seriously bummed on the food because we are always looking for a new breakfast spot to put into the rotation.
    The next day had breakfast at Jackie’s up on Valley Road and it was just perfect. And a lot closer to home.

  7. Took the girlfriend there on Saturday around noon and we both loved it. I liked the creative turkey/guacamole sandwich, and she loved her belgian waffle. We’ll definitely be coming back here over the overpriced and overhyped Raymond’s.

  8. we went there on monday and i had the wild mushroom truffle omelette w/egg whites and fruit substituted for the home fries. it was delish!!!
    i never had such a fluffy egg white omelette before and the mushrooms were sooooooo good! just the right balance, the truffle oil was the piece de resistance! the perfect finishing touch. also note the multigrain bread was like eating a piece of cake it was that good! the fruit-a nice selection including fresh strawberries and banana vs. the typical overtly citrus fruit cups you often find. the coffee also was so good.
    everything was hot and the place was packed!
    we will definitely be going back!!! so many interesting things to try! if you haven’t been yet, put it on the list, you will not be disappointed!

  9. Had a delicious brunch this past weekend with my best friend. We sat outside and had a wonderful wonderful waitress. I got the Spanish Scramble (chorizo, salsa, tomato, potato, cheddar). That combination is incredible!!! My best friend got the Blueberry stuffed French toast. It’s such a great place – staff, food, decor!

  10. Went there for a rehearsal dinner and it was amazing! The food was delicious, the presentation exquisite and the staff and owners very pleasant, attentive and professional. Great job!! Very creative, eclectic menu, I can’t wait to return with my family.

  11. I went to this restaurant last year for Brunch on my Birthday. It was a convenient half way to meet up with family. It could not have been any better! The food is incredible, the service was great! As a former New York City waiter at some of the best restaurants, I am very critical of restaurant service and food. I only wish it was closer to home. The only problem I had with Sweet Basil’s is, there are too many choices on the menu! I wanted everything. I am going back tomorrow (birthday again) I cannot wait! I only hope it’s as good as last time!

  12. We’ve eaten here quite a few times, but lately we’ve been growing tired of what seems like an attitude of entitlement on the part of the owners.

    We find them to be rigid, not good at dealing with issues, and tending to treat you like they are doing you a favor by serving you.

    With so many good restaurants in the area, there is really no reason to dine at a place where the owners have that attitude Its a shame to shell out good money just to have someone make you feel uncomfortable.

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