Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Authentic Vietnamese food in Monroe? In real life!

Basil & Chives Vietnamese Cuisine

(360) 794-4000
114 N Lewis St
, Monroe, WA 98272

Monroe always gets excited when new restaurants come into town and establish roots. We personally were excited at the fact that we finally had a place to get PHO! The owner, a young Vietnamese woman from Seattle, a UW graduate who takes pride in the food her restaurant serves.

The ambiance is amazing, especially considering the previous residents of the building. As longtime members of this town, we knew this building as a smoke filled, old beer smelling Eagles Club. They literally cored out the space and now its a sweet smelling, wonderful and elegant Vietnamese restaurant!

The menu is not like your typical Pho stop on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Yes they have Pho, and at first the few additional dollars in cost seems excessive, but when you see the size and quality, that is quickly forgiven. Their pho is as rich and savory as I have had at Than Bros - but the presentation is better and the quantity is more as well as the side sauces seem to be more fresh.

I skipped my favorite part, the appetizers. Their fried spring rolls and their fresh rolls are just amazing. I realized something different in their spring rolls and couldn't put my finger on it. The owner (who loves greeting customers and making sure things are up to par) was happy to answer the riddle. "Sweet Potatoes". She claimed that her grandmother used sweet potatoes instead of cabbage, and that that was the key to the spring rolls not getting soggy. Also their prawn fresh rolls are HUGE and very good. I would personally add a bit more herbs (Cilantro and basil wasn't as strong as some of the Thai fresh rolls i have had) and I had to ask for another side of Peanut Sauce, because the rolls are SO big and they give you 4 of them! But besides those small details, they are one of my favorite things to order.

On this day - I was suffering from a cold, so I knew Pho is what my body needed. However, when opening the menu, we were pleased to see that they added their famous lunchtime Vietnamese sandwiches, to the dinner menu! Unable to decide, my husband and I decided to each get a rare beef Pho and share a grilled chicken sandwich.

The pho was as good as it always is, and with some extra hot sauce, was just what my sinus's needed. Now the sandwich. It was SO AMAZING. With lettuce, pickled onion, carrots, daikon, cucumber, cilantro, mirin glazed onion and basil mayonnaise accompanying the grilled chicken on a grilled fresh baguette - it was like a party in my mouth. Even more, I suggest you eat it with the Pho - its a big meal, but OH SO GOOD.

So unlike many of the new restaurants in this town, that get popular just because they are new and slowly fade away - this place has longevity. Props to the owner who has enough young energy and vision to make it people pleasing and to make it work in this rough economy.

**In Addition, they have started doing dinner theater. Because the building had a stage for live music from when the Eagles inhabited it, they originally just built a wall and doors and planned to rent out the additional space. Now they do both - they rent it to the local theater and have created a great Dinner theater experience! More details here: http://www.basilandchivesrestaurant.com/events.html

My Rating: ***** five stars, a great and authentic addition to this small town - so come out to the digital movie theater, see a flick and get some Pho OR come and see some local theater and enjoy dinner at the same time! Either way, you must pay Basil & Chives a visit.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Public Enemies, Depp makes Dillinger Dapper and Dynamic

Public Enemies
Director: Michael Mann
Rating: R
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Stephen Dorff

John Dillinger was a criminal who robbed banks, murdered numerous times, escaped jail - but all the while, seemed to win the hearts of his community and the press.

As I watched - I too was sucked into the charm that Dillinger spread like a web to all that caught his eye. His comedy while robbing the government and his kindness when letting the man at the counter keep his money. His love for Billie Frechette (wonderfully played by Marion Cottillard) was so tender but also so stern - as he expected her to just adjust and accept his way of life. Never once hiding it from her or lying to her about it. He was such a man of the moment and expected her to be as well. And she did - she surprisingly fell into line with him and was supportive until the very end, even taking beatings from police for him, and going to jail for him.

Christian Bale plays Office Melvin Purvis. At first, his character really irritated me, mostly because of how Christian played his mannerisms and voice. But about halfway through, he grew on me - especially when he discovered Billie Frechette being beaten by the police for answers to where Dillinger was - he stopped the beatings and carried her to be cleaned up. Very sweet.

Overall - Depp is subperb. He literally morphes into the role of loving gangster Dillinger. At times I would look into the face on the screen and forget it was an actor playing a part. You really find yourself feeling SORRY for Dillinger by the end of the film, when you realize his time is almost up.

The shoot out scenes are done with a classic touch to give the feel of the era and the rest of the movie just falls perfectly into place. Go see this film for an amazing story of crime, love and passion.

Rating: **** excellent