For a variety of professional reasons, I have been to Naperville a time or two recently. And, I have discovered a terrific place to hide (there goes that possibility?) and have a (vietnamese) coffee and lunch. Where? A place called Green Basil Restaurant, at 43 East Jefferson Avenue in . . . Naperville. I stumbled into it some time ago, perhaps even last summer when it was truly warm outside, and . . . it is a place I like and will return to when I can.
The ambience is sort of nothing -- plastic chairs and pretend wood tables. The parking is just a tad irritating -- because of some oddly placed one way signs in the parking lot, but I have always been successful parking on the street. The service is . . . very good as there were few if any others there when I have been there. The servers seem well informed and are kind.
But, what about the food? The food -- the food is definitely something to write home about. Each time I have dropped in, the food has been quite good. Memorable even. The coffee was too. Hmmm. Yes, this is a positive review.
What did I eat? The first time I went there, hot and bedraggled, I was incredibly hungry but not wanting to stuff myself as I was off to a meeting shortly where. . . food would be provided. So, I asked for a suggestion and got what was pointed out to me as a good option. Every time I have been there, I have had that same thing == a sort of steak salad, with thinly sliced (filet?) beef surrounded with (dare I say tossed with) herbs (cilantro, mint, basil), tomatoes, perhaps some chili slices, and a "sauce" which includes fish sauce and more. Just the right combination of hot, spicy and minty. It tastes like I imagine Vietnamese food ought to taste. And, that first server was completely right - it provides just the right amount of protein for a quick light lunch. In fact, I liked it so much that I have been trying to re-create it with left over steak and have discovered it is best when it is a little bit hotter than what Green Basil serves. (Yes to bird's eye or thai chilis.) The mint is the critical part of the herb mixture as the whole thing goes lackluster if you skip the mint. How do I know this? It is rare for me to try to re-create a meal just because I like it -- but as I said, I have been trying to re-create it. All of which is to say yes, this is in fact a very positive review.
I have also had a version of a spring roll at Green Basil, but cannot figure out which one by looking on line at their menu! Same thing with a soup one day. Both were light and flavorful. The sauce with the spring roll was particularly amazing. So, those too get a thumbs up.
As noted, one of the reasons I am a repeat visitors Green Basil is their (iced) Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk. Their version is right at the intersection of coffee and sweet, and thick in a way that screams "mouthfeel." In its genre, not the absolutely best iced vietnamese coffee I have ever had, but pretty darn close.
All in all, Naperville gets a hurrah for this (apparently newish) little gem.