by Kelly Thompson
Unassuming places may be one of Toledo’s specialties, but Basin St. Grille stands out among them.
The restaurant’s Creole concept is the brainchild of Nick Tokles, owner of Nick & Jimmy’s, Cocoa House Lounge, and Sylvania’s Village Inn. But what sets the restaurant apart isn’t its tucked-away location; it’s their unique atmosphere, and attention to good food.
When you walk through the door, you’re immediately greeted by the smell of a wood-fired grill—the restaurant’s crown jewel. The interior is dimly lit, but welcoming. It isn’t overrun by televisions, and the high-top tables are beautiful, custom-built pieces, making you feel as though you’re a part of a members-only social club. It’s the kind of place you’d meet friends you haven’t seen in awhile, or where you might show a first date a good time.
You also have the unique opportunity to watch cooks prepare grilled items out front, just behind the bar. “You can’t fake the flavor from [the grill],” said Scott Boyer, Basin St.’s bar manager, who added that “there’s an organic art to cooking over wood.” Menu items range from hearty appetizers—the calamari is a popular favorite—steak, seafood and chicken entrees, to salads, and traditional soups, like baked French onion.
Basin St. Grille also boasts a full bar, good for an after-work martini or glass of wine with dinner. One of Boyer’s main jobs is curating the beer, wine and cocktail menus to bring patrons the best customized experience they can have. “We don’t just carry products because everyone will know them,” he said of the restaurant’s wine and liquor selection. “When we create new dishes, we taste everything. When we’re choosing wines to carry, it’s the same process . . . we want to get it right.”
The restaurant is currently in the process of completing the “Basin St. Annex,” a 52-seat adjacent dining room that will feature the same welcoming ambience, a raw bar and live music. Just like the original setup, the addition features hand-built high-tops and a full cocktail bar.
For dinner, I had the hickory chicken with mashed potatoes and asparagus. The chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender, and there was just enough sweet, tangy barbecue marinade to enhance the dish. The potatoes weren’t overprocessed; they had texture, with plenty of garlic, accompanied by large, smoky grilled asparagus. It was, at its core, a simple meat-and-potatoes meal, but that’s what Basin St. does best—creative twists on classics, letting quality to speak for itself.
4pm-midnight, Monday & Tuesday, 4pm-1am Wednesday-Saturday. 5201 Monroe St. (Beverly Hills Plaza). 419-843-5660, basinstreetgrille.com