Basil 1791 recently opened at 241 High St. in Hamilton in a space that formerly was home to Ryan’s Tavern, a business that helped kick off booming growth in the city’s downtown a decade ago.
Here are six things to know about the new dining spot:
1. It’s Asian cuisine — and more
Basil doesn’t only have the menu items you’d expect to find at a full Asian bistro, including egg rolls, crab rangoon, wonton soup, Vietnamese Pho, Pad Thai, Kung Pao, General Tso and Moo Goo Gai Pan, salads, wraps and curries.
Those who might not be interested in dining on Pan-Asian cuisine can order steaks, salmon, curried mussels and, yes, burgers, including traditional beef burgers, plus lamb, chicken, salmon and vegetarian options.
Those continental-style dishes provide more variety for the restaurant’s guests and more options when hosting a celebration in a second-floor banquet area, according to co-owner Tony Ly.
“If you wanted to have a banquet here or a rehearsal (dinner), you wouldn’t be tied to Asian cuisine,” he said.
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2. It’s got a GIANT wok to help prepare its dishes
The restaurant shipped in a 12-foot-wide wok that weighs more than a ton to allow its chefs to whip up culinary creations not possible on one’s own, Ly said.
“What makes Asian cuisine different that you can’t do at home necessarily is you need a mechanism that can produce enough BTUs, whereas your typical household stove, there’s no way you could replicate that,” he said.
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3. It’s been in the works a while
Ly, the restaurant’s co-owner, said fellow co-owners Steve Coon and Dave Jursik first approached him with the idea of a new restaurant in downtown Hamilton five years ago. Ly said he became “more and more impressed” with each visit with how quickly Hamilton has started to “get on its feet” and create a downtown urban environment.
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4. It’s one of several food or drink-related spots set to open this year
Quarter Barrel Brewery & Pub opened Wednesday, nearly a week after Basil 1791 officially launched its soft opening. Sushi burrito concept Roll On In plans to open in March at the space vacated in September by J. Austin’s Riverbank Cafe at 102 Main St. Alexander’s Market, which closed in early November, is set to reopen under new ownership this March. This summer is expected to see the openings of The Casual Pint and Tano Bistro & Catering at the Marcum Apartments.
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5. Part of it Basil 1791’s name is a tribute to Hamilton
The new restaurant is owned by Basil Asian Bistro, the name of four other existing restaurants owned by the same group in northeastern Ohio. The “1791” moniker is a nod to the year Fort Hamilton was completed.
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6. What you see isn’t everything you’ll get — yet
Yes, the restaurant is open for business, but there’s even more on the way. Campbell said an installed garage door links the restaurant to outdoor dining and a 30-bottle bourbon bar is in the works. That should compliment a wide array of wine, beer, sake and cocktail options on Basil 1791’s menu.
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