Basil’s tucks into the corner of Fondren Corner with a glove-perfect fit, ready to hand over tasty goodness at a near moment’s notice. The buzzwords fast and fresh pepper co-owner/chef Nathan Glenn’s conversation as often as a rundown of the flavors that make his food as special as it is snappy.
Basil’s fast-casual takeout counter in Fondren puts the emphasis on to-go and delivery, but that doesn’t mean diners need to rush off. Limited shared seating inside and a patio spot out front offers a place to hang and dine if hungry folks just can’t wait.
Basil’s Fondren marks 15 years as a go-to for pizza, sandwiches, soups, and salads in that spot. Glenn and his dad, Tim Glenn (now retired), co-founded it in 2003. His father founded Rooster’s back in 1984; Nathan Glenn started with his first restaurant, a Rooster’s, in south Jackson back in 1999. Rooster’s sole location now anchors the opposite ground floor corner of the Fondren Corner building.
Glenn’s culinary raising and experience (including some New Orleans and Gulf Coast roots) fold neatly into menus that both meet the masses and entice the next set coming up. “We’re pretty multi-generational,” he says. “You serve good food; I think it crosses lots of platforms.” His banana pudding is sweet with old-fashioned goodness; to his knowledge, he was the first with paninis on the local scene, back at the start. Batch cooking, house dressings and more keep the flavors distinctly Basil’s.
(Side Note: Basil’s Downtown, with a slightly different focus – plus specials to cater to the downtown lunch crowd – is owned by Glenn’s brother-in-law, Michael Laskin.)
Forging a New Direction
A new Basil’s location is set to open in March at the north end of Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland. Basil’s Renaissance will be a mirror image of Basil’s Fondren and bring a slightly expanded menu to both those spots.
Meal kits and meal replacement will forge a new direction that’ll complement home cooking. “We have a line of half-baked pizzas coming, and we’re fixing to package our cold chicken salad and pimento cheese, and we’re going to have our condiments available — our pesto mayonnaise and salad dressings,” Glenn says. “Also, we’re working on different condiments that we’re using in some of our new sandwiches and salads, that we’re also offering in one-cup or pint sizes.”
Glenn is hip to the possibilities inherent with to-go pints of chicken salad, pimento cheese and more. “People having a football game or little parties can get a couple of cups of that stuff, put a little lettuce on their platters, dump it and look like they did all the work,” he says, with a knowing grin.
Fresh to Order in About 5 Minutes
Glenn pegs Basil’s profile as a quick-service Southern deli with a mix of Italian and Mediterranean influences. “It’s all about speed for us,” he says, with a 5-minute ticket time for fresh-cooked food to order.
Each Basil’s has its own in-house bakery to turn out fresh focaccia bread, pizza dough, and chocolate chip cookies. “I put a big emphasis on no preservatives or conditioners,” says Glenn. “People always ask, ‘What’s the secret to your food?’ or ‘What is it that you do that’s a little different?’ and I think it’s just keeping everything fresh and in rotation.”
That fresh profile extends to the look at Basil’s Fondren, too. A recent refresh enjoys the edgy slant of mixed media artist William Goodman (whose studio is just upstairs); the skull-in-a-toque logo promises “Killer Eats.”
Open a pizza box and the aroma, sight and first bite back that claim up. The 904 pizza is warm and delicious under a blanket of white sauce with roasted garlic, mozzarella cheese blended with a little provolone and Parmesan, spinach, pepperoni, and Italian sausage. Basil’s Southern salad sampler, with made-in-house cold chicken salad, pimento cheese, and deviled eggs, is a grab-and-go favorite.
Sandwiches are no slouches, either. The No. 12, a version of a chicken club — pesto mayo, Roma tomatoes, applewood bacon, provolone cheese, and slow-roasted chicken breast — is a top favorite. Slow-roasted brisket stars in brisket and cheesesteak paninis. Tomato basil soup is the hot pick in the soup category. House dressings — including comeback, buttermilk ranch, the “hugely popular” chipotle bacon ranch, honey lemon vinaigrette, and balsamic vinaigrette — are tasty options for salads.
A line of oven sandwiches is coming; including an Italian club on a 7-inch bun that Glenn hails as “probably the best sandwich we’ll have, it’s so good.” Imagine a hot, meaty club brightened and balanced with a cool Italian kick.
Visit Basil’s in Fondren at 2914 N State St in Jackson. They’re open 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily except Sundays.