Our daughter recently turned six, and because Tagaytay is becoming a favorite place of ours, we celebrated her birthday there. With such busy schedules, we got around to looking for a place for the simple celebration at the last minute. Luckily, we picked a good one: Lime and Basil Thai Restaurant.
Lime and Basil Restaurant is actually located in Alfonso, Cavite, which lies next to Tagaytay and borders the towns of Nasugbu and Laurel in Batangas. But as is common among businesses situated in the towns neighboring Tagaytay — namely Silang, Mendez, Amadeo and Alfonso — the restaurant identifies as being located in the popular tourist city, perhaps for added commercial allure.
The restaurant was listed on one of the websites included in the first-page results of our quick Google search for “restaurants in Tagaytay.” As you can see, it enjoys some popularity, though to be honest we’d never heard of it. Reviews speak highly of the ambience and the food, which was why we chose it.
Lime and Basil Restaurant is located along Sicat Road, about 500 meters down the descending street from Tagaytay-Nasugbu Road. It looks modest and quaint from outside its gate, but as you enter, you’re greeted by a fairly large manicured front yard; crane your neck and you’ll see an expansive and well-tended garden behind the restaurant. The main building, where the dining area is, is everything the reviews said it is: charming, beautiful and cozy. Surrounded by numerous plants and trees, it features decorative objects on its walls and cupboards that invoke Thai culture. But probably because of the Southeast Asian connection, the atmosphere feels homey too.
There is also a room in the restaurant where artistically designed household items for sale are on display. They range from kitchenware to decorations; checking them out can help you while away the time as you wait your food to be deserved.
And speaking of food, which is the foremost subject here, lest it should be forgotten. Again, the reviews didn’t lie: It was fantastic. We had fresh spring rolls, pad thai (stir-fried rice noodles, one of the better-known Thai dishes), moo grob (crispy pork belly, cucumber relish and pork rind), kao pad poo (crab fried rice), and pad pak ruammit (stir-fried mixed vegetables).
We have no “authentic Thai food” experience to speak of and to compare Lime and Basil against, but of all the Thai restaurants we’ve tried, this one offered dishes that were sumptuous and didn’t seem to have been made specifically to please the Filipino palate. Meaning, the food didn’t taste like Thai and Filipino food at the same time.
I don’t know what authentic Thai food tastes like, but I do know Pinoy food in and out, and Pinoy food was not what the dishes at Lime and Basil sneakily tried to be. And that’s a good thing for me, because as much as possible, I want to enjoy cuisines from other cultures as they are, or at least as I imagine them to be, and not as bastardizations of their true selves in aid of marketability (one reason why I don’t like Turks Shawarma much.) I relish good food regardless of whether or not it is completely true to the culture it is supposed to represent, but I like it a lot more if it’s not altered to suit the specifications of my own culture. Lime and Basil Restaurant, as far as I could tell from the smokey and herby taste of the dishes, isn’t out to please Pinoy taste buds. The dishes were wonderful as they were.
As regards the prices, we paid only about Php 2,000 for all of the foods listed above. You’d probably shell out as much for the same number of dishes at a place where the ambiance isn’t nearly as lovely as the one at Lime and Basil Restaurant. The servings were ample too. There were five of us at our table (four adults plus our daughter), but the portions were more than enough for us. We took home enough food for two people. The food was great, and it was hearty.
Needless to say, I recommend dining at Lime and Basil Restaurant when you’re in the Tagaytay area. It’s about 15 to 30 minutes away from the center of the city, but the travel farther down will be more than worth it.