Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sweet Basil's Cafe: Cannon Beach, OR

Bison and Bacon Meatballs: everything that is hearty and meaty, doused in a saucy trilogy. 

Now that I got your attention with those balls, allow me to introduce Sweet Basil's Cafe: a natural, organic, wild and soon to be certified gluten free restaurant on the Oregon Coast. What's even more interesting is they have a tapas thing going on and Chef John Sowa definitely has a Creole thing going on. Just off the main drag in Cannon Beach, this restaurant is unassuming, unpretentious and dainty. There is a bar connected that often plays live music. Justin and I showed up late (late for Oregon Coast hours, around 8:45) and were welcomed without being guilt tripped for our past-curfew tendencies. 

We tasted a few wines that night, thanks to our gracious wine server, Ted. We enjoyed the two pictured above immensely. Chemistry White Wine - a bright, fruity blend from the Willamette Valley. However, the La Velle Chardonnay from Columbia Valley was the star of the night. One of the best stainless steel chardonnays I've ever tasted: stone fruits on the nose, lots of mineral, and a refreshing finish. I will buy a case of this.  

I had to order the Dungeness Crab Stuffed Portobello, a massive portobello, topped with a slice of organic tomato, then mounded with Dungeness Crab, parmesan, mayonnaise (yes, mayo!) finished with provolone cheese.  The combination was sweet, earthy and delightfully rich. 


The Chicken Tchoupitoulas Justin ordered was something of a mystery. A New Orleans style dish involving pan seared chicken breast topped with a creamy, tarragon flecked Béarnaise sauce, accompanied by pan roasted potatoes and squash. Neither of us were blown away by this dish but it was still tasty due to the high quality ingredients involved. 

Justin also ordered the Sweet Basil’s Plentiful House Salad consisting of organic greens, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers  and sunflower seeds.  

Would we return? Definitely if were living la vida gluten free and probably, if not for a glass of wine and round of bacon wrapped dates and/or something with crab. Just remember, if you go to the Oregon Coast, do not forget your P Diddy jacket. 

271 N. Hemlock St.
Cannon Beach, OR


JustinM said...

My last time in Cannon Beach I ate at the Driftwood Inn. It was just awful. Easily the worst seafood meal I've ever had in Oregon.

Banana Wonder said...

JustinM - And rightfully so, the reviews for Driftwood Inn were awful, although it did look pretty from the outside.

JustinM said...

That's how we chose it - it was a gorgeous, warm June day and we wanted to sit outside. I once had fried shrimp at the Sizzler in Medford, and THAT was 10x better than the food at Driftwood.

Banana Wonder said...

JustinM - Oh geez, that is sad. I hear Ecola Seafood is the way to go. Next time!

Mary Bergfeld said...

It is always good to have reviews of coast restaurants at hand, cause you never know. Our visits tend to be spur of the moment and we go when whim takes us. We have eaten in some real dumps as a result. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

Banana Wonder said...

Mary - That seems to be a common theme (see JustinM's comments). It would kill me to eat mediocre seafood at the coast. Just kill. I will need to get your rec's next time I'm in the Eugene area :-)

Lenia said...

Those portobellos seem so tasty!Kalo weekend,Annoula!

nehalemclayworks said...

OK, I'm deeply prejudiced in favor of chef/owner and friend John Sowa (we go way back to his first enterprise in Seaside, the Li'l Bayou, -Cajun is at the heart of his culinary enthusiasm and he learned it in the "Big Easy" under some pretty prestigious tutelage). Guilty as charged!
One thing I must add: in addition to his culinary integrity and creativity, John has been one of the most consistent and genuinely enthusiastic promoters of live ACOUSTIC music, especially blues, on the North Oregon coast since his arrival inthe ealy 90's. FYI, I (Brian J) play solo FLAMENCO and some Jazz GUITAR in S.B.'s Wine Bar every Sunday evening and the occasional Saturday and he has live acts every Friday, Saturday and Sunday -and Thursday s in the spring, summer and fall and sponsors the weekly Saturday "Courtyard Concerts" for the benefit of a local children's charity ever summer.
So as Louis Armstrong might ha' sung "Git your tootsies down to John's place"! You'll be well fed by a REAL chef and entertained by REAL musicians.

Banana Wonder said...

Lenia - we think the same.

nehalemclayworks - That was a major draw for coming to Sweet Basil - I had heard all about the music! Keep the good stuff rolling, and Justin and I hope to be back soon for a good dose of jazz guitar and some more delicious goodies. Chef John has got a great friend as yourself :-)

Helen said...

The food sounds fantastic and it's gluten free too! I'm beginning to slowly switch to a gluten-free diet and I can say without a doubt that I feel so much better as a result. "Choupitoulas" sounds Greek to me LOL