The “lovers' booth” isn’t just a nook at a 1950s-style diner for sipping a double-strawed chocolate milkshake. At Thai Basil, 2710 South Havana Street, the Lovers' Booth is an antique, hand-carved teak wedding bed imported from Asia and transformed into a private, romantic seating area for two people (or as many as eight, if that's your thing) that can be reserved for special events (or chosen on a whim when available). As the name implies, these canopy-style beds were given to a bride and groom as a traditional wedding gift. Jessica Vo, Thai Basil’s owner, points out that along with the two bed-booths, most of the furniture in the restaurant is imported from Asia (see the two seven-foot-tall vases clad in poems at the entrance). These antiques lend an elegant and historical look to the otherwise modern decor of the dining space.
Like the heirlooms intermingled with modern decor in the restaurant’s large dining room, the fare here is typical of an Asian-fusion eatery, with dishes inspired from the cuisines of a number of countries and re-created in a contemporary way. That said, it should be pointed out that this is one of several Thai Basil locations in the Denver area (the others are at 1400 East 18th Avenue in Denver and in Colorado Springs, Thornton and Lone Tree), so the menu cannot escape a certain déjà-vu quality. The offerings are pretty standard — rolls, soups, noodle dishes, curries and meat entrees that satisfy a craving for Asian foods without challenging the uninitiated palate too much.
Vo recommends that diners try the pad Thai ($11) and sticky mango rice dessert ($7), acknowledging, “I give all the credit to the chef.” She explained that the menu at Thai Basil caters to most dietary regimens, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. “Any meal can be customized for the customer’s dietary needs,” she says. “We have several people ordering tofu lettuce wraps every day, even though they’re not on the menu.”
Although over the years the restaurant has attracted regular customers, Vo notes that new customers frequently ask if the restaurant just opened, since they’ve never noticed that Thai Basil was in their own neighborhood all along. So she began marketing to the surrounding area to help bring in locals. “We do send out coupons for delivery, but want the public to know that they can reference any coupon without actually having one in hand.”
As with many Asian-fusion restaurants, the success of Thai Basil depends on its ability to produce the array of standards with consistency in a setting that offers up a few novel twists. Whether you’re seeking a special occasion in the Lover’s Booth or just an intriguing new spot for a work lunch, Thai Basil is worth trying — with your lover or just a lunch pal.
Thai Basil website for menus and other information.
Here's more of our continuing Havana Street series, where Maureen Witten stops at every eatery (excluding national chains) along the busy street — from south to north.