Fast and Fresh: Basil’s

Image: Basil’s Fondren

Basil’s tucks into 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.

The Fondren restaurant marks almost 17 years as a go-to for pizza, sandwiches, soups, and salads in the same spot – almost. They’ve just reopened after months of closure, partially due to COVID-19, partially for a move across the hall to a much larger and swankier space (the former home of La Brioche, who moved to The District).

That swanky profile carries with it the recently updated look, an edgy slant of mixed media artist William Goodman (whose studio is upstairs); the skull-in-a-toque logo promises “Killer Eats.”

Basil’s focus is takeout, but a patio out front and shared seating inside Fondren Corner are handy for those who just can’t wait.

Glenn and his dad, Tim Glenn (now retired), co-founded the restaurant 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.

Chef/co-owner Nathan Glenn, here at Basil’s Fondren.

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.

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.”

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.

Branched Out

Basil’s has a “newish” additional location – at Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland – a sister location to Fondren with a slightly expanded menu (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.)

Visit Basil’s in Fondren at 2914 N State St in Jackson. They’re open 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily except Sundays with plans to expand into evening hours soon.

Basil’s pizzas, on a 10-inch crust, are described as “individual-plus.”

Updated: August 31, 2020

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Sherry Lucas

Sherry Lucas is a Jackson writer with an appetite for iconic foods. This story was produced in partnership with The Mississippi List. All photos by Sherry Lucas. All opinions expressed in this post are the opinions of the writer and not necessarily those of Sipp Jackson.

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