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Sweet Basil is Back

As you start your journey up north across the bridge, you will be attracted by a bright pink and blue building that definitely stands out amongst its neighborhood. An oasis, of sorts, the new Sweet Basil Restaurant and Bar has risen form dormancy and is now offering the same great ambience it once did but with a new menu that promises to keep the establishments reputation as one of the “sweetest” spots up north and a must visit while visiting San Pedro.

Ambergris Today had the pleasure of meeting the new owners of Sweet Basil who officially took reigns of the restaurant and are adding their own touch to the food and ambience of the restaurant.

Having Tyler Cornel and Julie Von Rabenaujoin us for dinner made the restaurant review even more pleasurable. Their company was very refreshing as their cheerful and bright personalities gave for great conversation and an entertaining evening. And what the couple had in store for us was pretty much close to a feast. Their menu consists of gourmet Italian pasta dishes with a tasty variety of salads, cheeses and wines.

We started off with the signature drink of the restaurant which is aptly named Croc Punch, which is close to drinking a Hawaiian Punch but with a tasty zing! And the name comes from the many crocodiles that can be spotted at the back of the lagoon.

Appetizers came in the form of Coconut Shrimp (shrimp rolled in breadcrumbs and Coconut flakes deep fried and served with a sweet honey sauce and spicy sauce), the Fruit and Cheese Plate (watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes & apple slices served with yogurt and parmesan, mozzarella, blue cheese and olives) and the Baked Onion which is unbelievably sweet. Other appetizers include the Antipasto Plate (Cheese and cold cut meats), Shrimp Cocktail and Spanish Artichoke Dip.

Sweet Basil offers a large variety of fresh salads of which we tried the Insalata Caprese and the island famous Stuffed Tomato Salad. The Insalata includes fresh Mozzarella, tomatoes and basil on a bed of mixed greens with their famous basil vinaigrette. The very tasty Stuffed Tomato is a giant tomato stuffed with either chicken, tuna or shrimp. We had the tuna which was very rich and tasty. Salads were served with garlic bread and other salads include Tomato Cucumber and Feta, Ceasar Salad, Greek Salad, Tuscan Salad and the Bleu Wedge (fresh iceberg lettuce wedge covered in chunky bleu cheese topped with real bacon bits).

The three main course dishes that made it to our table were the exquisite Shrimp on a Stick which included two kabobs of fresh sweet shrimp grilled to perfection with fresh vegetables and served over grilled potatoes complete with a tasty tropical dipping sauce. Other favorites include Creole Shrimp, Shrimp Scampi, Reef Tacos and Gazpacho Soup.

The Shrimp, Artichoke and Feta is on their pasta menu which includes spaghetti with shrimp, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, capers, and Greek olives, with feta cheese and a basil pesto. Other pasta dishes include the Herb Chicken, Fettuccini Alfredo and Pasta al Greco with lobster. To accompany the pasta dishes, Sweet Basil has a very good selection of white and red wines, including champagne.

My favorite was the Pollo a la Picatta which is lightly breaded chicken breast grilled to perfection with Sweet Basil’s lime cappers sauce served with rice and a tomato/cucumber salad. Other dinner specials worthy of trying are the Sauteed Conch, Island Grouper and the Snapper Scaloppini. Hmmmm!

After dinner there was simply no room for dessert this time around but on the menu is the Sweet Chocolate Delight (warm chocolate cake with ice cream and chocolate syrup), Hot Fudge Sundae and Apples Caliente (Cooked apples with brown sugar and cinnamon, topped with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream). Instead, served for dessert was a Chocolate Cake shot at the bar – the shot feels like you are downing a bite of real chocolate cake, WOW!

There are plenty shrimp dishes on Sweet Basil’s menu, but the restaurant does have an array of other choices which include fish, lobster and chicken. The only meat on the menu is in their Sandwich selections which include Grilled Ham & Cheese, Italian Sub, Italian Marinara and North Shore Burger (1/4 lb seasoned ground beef steak served on a toasted bun with tomato, lettuce and onion – you can add cheese, bacon, mushrooms, and even fried eggs, all to your taste). The menu is quite varied for different tastes and the dishes are reasonable priced.

After experiencing a great dinner at Sweet Basil, it is obvious to see that Tyler Cornell and his family have done a fantastic job in bringing the restaurant back to life and probably will supersede the wonderful food and ambience that Sweet Basil was already known for. The friendly and attentive staff add to the charm and ambience of the bright pink building which is always touched by a cool breeze, day or night. Ambergris Today highly recommends Sweet Basil as a must stop on your way up North Ambergris Caye. The restaurant is open daily from 11a.m. to 9p.m. except on Tuesday which is their day off. For reservations cal 226-2113 and when you get there tell Tyler and Julie that Ambergris Today sent you.

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