Eat that frog! A blog about Basil, Tonbridge.

No this isn’t an announcement that Basil is branching out into French food!  This command refers to a book called “Eat that Frog” by Brian Tracy which is all about tackling challenging tasks.  And this blog feels like a challenge because I really want to like Basil on Tonbridge High Street but there’s always something that niggles.  This blog has been ‘pending’ for quite some time…. 

 


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Why do I want to like it?  

I want to like everywhere on Tonbridge High Street and I’m really disappointed if I don’t.  In order for Tonbridge to thrive we need great places to eat, drink, shop, be active, be creative, be calm.  As Tonbridge welcomes more young families and London commuters, we need attractive looking places and in my opinion, Basil certainly ticks that box.

What I do like about it


Basil cake Aug 17.jpg

The food.  The food is creative, indulgent and, packed full of healthy ingredients.  I love their salads – when I took my mum for Bring a Friend February, the curried slaw was delicious! I love their pies, quiches and frittatas: the pies are often made with filo pastry so not as heavy as a ‘traditional’ pie and with interesting fillings: last time I went the sweet potato and feta was moreish and prior to that, I’ve tried one with a mushroom filling (regular followers will not be surprised), also very tasty.  The portions are generous too and I know some people balk at the price of Basil but I think, thanks to the portion sizes, they do offer value for money.  (For example, mum and I shared our sweet potato and feta pie and we both still had large slices.)  If anything the portion sizes are too large as I never have room for the delicious looking sweet treats.

I also really like the bar at the window where you can sit and watch the world go by – this is unique in Tonbridge and means that drinking or eating alone doesn’t seem so lonesome!  

What I’ve struggled with about Basil  

I’ve given Basil more than enough chances and only once in the last 18 months or so do I think I’ve been greeted with a friendly welcome.  I find the staff disengaged, miserable and lacking enthusiasm – it certainly isn’t ‘service with a smile’.  This is probably my biggest niggle as really a smile doesn’t cost much and excellent customer service is surely at the very core of the catering and hospitality* industry.  

I acknowledge that not everyone has children and that all of us, parents or not, like to go to places where there are fewer children, now and again/always(!).  Basil, in my opinion, has certainly cornered the market for the latter; it’s not somewhere I would choose to take my children when faced with a cafe quandary:

  • there aren’t many menu options for them (they do love the cheese & ham panini though, which they share);
  • the drinks are quite ‘grown-up’ and generally, in glass bottles.  There aren’t any juice cartons available as an alternative;  
  • the cakes and sweet treat portions are enormous!    

I’m passed the buggy stage but I can imagine it’s quite difficult to manoeuvre a buggy or pram in there due to the proximity of tables, and possibly even a wheelchair.  

 


Basil quiche Aug 17.jpg

 

I will continue to support Basil as I would rather it here than an empty unit but I implore the staff to up their game on friendliness and delivering quality customer service – that is my biggest gripe.   

What do you think about Basil?  I’d love to hear. 

* Hospitality – the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests and visitors, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 2004

  • Angie
    March 10, 2018

    I totally agree ! Delicious food and great coffe but the staff are boardering on arrogant!! No smile or welcoming greeting ! Come on Basil smile 😀

  • SK
    March 10, 2018

    Agree – staff really do not seem friendly or welcoming – lovely food though so that makes up for it but not sure why they are all so unhappy to be there!

  • Sarah Weller
    March 10, 2018

    I think your constructive criticism could really help Basil . I wholeheartedly agree with you, having had breakfast there many times after our Saturday morning swim we continue to go because they offer the healthiest choice in Tonbridge (there isn’t an alternative, Finch house is very carby) but have never felt welcomed and often service is incredibly disorganised and slow. However this is typical of a small business run by passionate foodies who have expanded quickly I suspect without putting in an infrastructure for a staff development programme. People go to cafes for all sorts of reasons , in a society where loneliness is an increasing problem cafe staff should have training in hospitality skills as well as how to work the coffee machine. A smile and a nice comment can make all the difference to someone’s day.

  • Debbie
    March 10, 2018

    I adore the food at Basil, the health aspect and the creativity but agree wholeheartedly about the lacklustre reception! I’m in there all the time (because of the awesome vegan pancakes!) and I get zero recognition/smile/chitchat/someone remembering my usual coffee order…

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