I count myself lucky to be born in Australia's coffee capital of Melbourne and love to write about what's on in my home town.
Published June 24th 2012
When it comes to restaurants, Melburnians are spoiled for choice, and no matter what your taste or budget, most of us love a Saturday night take away or restaurant dinner. But unless you live near one of Melbourne's inner city dining hotspots like Lygon Street, Sydney Road or Brunswick Street, options can be few. In a wonderfully multicultural city such as ours, who wants to be limited to the corner pizza or fish and chip shop?
So the next time the cook fancies a night off, follow your nose to Basil Leaf Thai restaurant. Located in a small Montrose shopping strip at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, Basil Leaf is the perfect place to conclude a day spent exploring the sights of the Dandenongs, but be sure to book ahead - its reputation amongst locals means that it is frequently booked out on Saturday nights.
Adorned with traditional Thai brocade and redolent with lemongrass, basil and garlic, the small, softly lit dining space hums with conversation. Within seconds of walking in, you will be greeted by the ever-smiling owner, Thavone Bounnhang, whose northern Thai heritage shines through in the beautifully fragrant, flavoursome cuisine.
Once seated, the plates of aromatic, steaming curries and stir fries that sail past on their way to other tables may tempt you to order something from every section of the menu, so as to enjoy the full Thai experience - but don't worry about sending your credit card into meltdown, for Thavone won't let you order more than he thinks you can manage.
Tempered with what Thavone terms 'medium' heat - that is, just the right amount of chilli heat to warm your bones (let them know if you prefer more or less) - the menu features lots of traditional favourites like Pad Thai, Tom Yum, Red and Green Curry, plus a good selection of stir fry and rice dishes. All are generous in proportions, served piping hot and full of fresh, perfectly cooked ingredients - including a colourful assortment of vegetables.
Prices are also very reasonable, with entrees starting from around $8 and mains courses from around $18. The restaurant welcomes BYO, so don't forget to bring a bottle or two with you - a crisp sauvignon blanc goes particular well with the warm, aromatic flavours.
Unmetered angle parking is available at the front of the restaurant, and since there are not many other restaurants in this shopping strip, spaces are usually not too hard to come by during the evening, although if you are picking up a take away during peak times, you may have to park in the side street.
Mt Dandenong (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Do you know of any outer suburban gems like Basil Leaf? We'd love you to share them with us!