Pho Real: Basilic Vietnamese Grill in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

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I took a trip to the beach last night and sank into some Pho at Basilic, a Vietnamese restaurant that took over Tedesco's old spot on Commercial Blvd. The tiny bistro serves a mean bowl of the stuff, fragrant with anise and ginger and loaded with strips of thinly sliced steak that cooks inside of the steaming bowl. On the side was the traditional salvo of accoutrements: a frock of peppery basil, some crisp bean sprouts, slivers of jalapeno, a wedge of lime, and a dish filled with hoisin and sriracha. The broth was heady and fairly beefy, with grassy notes of scallion and onion mixing with the starch of the rice noodles. I stirred in a little bit of hoisin and a big scoop of sriracha, then squirted some lime and added the vegetables and herbs. It was some fantastic, head clearing pho, and everyone at the table who had some was emitting sniffling noises as their sinuses were vacated.

The pho was a combination bowl called pho dac biet, which included some pleasantly gelatinous, porky meatballs and more thin slices of brisket with bits of unctuous fat attached. Since the soup was so light and fragrant, the richness of the meat never overpowered it. I did discover that being a bit more frugal with the plummy hoisin allowed the soups flavors to stretch their legs a bit more. Same with the sriracha, though I'm such a sucker for spice I had to keep going back for it.

The customizable nature of Vietnamese food carries through most of the dishes at Basilic. Banh xeo, a pan-fried crepe made from rice flour, was extraordinarily mild, even with the pork, shrimp, and bean sprout filling. But it was a great canvas for the accompanying mint and cilantro leaves, the clear fish sauce called nuoc mam, and gobs of sambal oelek and lemongrass-garlic paste that sat on the table. Rice paper spring rolls stuffed with shrimp, pork, and lots of lettuce were also very mild substrate for the litany of sauces available.

The dining room is small, with less than 10 tables and a four-seat bar, but it's also bright and comfortable with bamboo elements throughout. Service was attentive and helpful, though one older waiter had a sort of gruff sensibility about him -- we laughed at it, mostly. I'm looking forward to getting back and trying more of the menu, especially since Basilic is one of the only Vietnamese restaurants on the east side of Broward. Look for a full review in the coming weeks.

Basilic Vietnamese Grill
218 E. Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
954-771-5798
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