Chef John’s Point of View

Every week I’ll share a story about Sweet Basil’s, what we’re up to, maybe some Culinary history, a recipe here and there and more.

For a starter I’ve had numerous people ask where the name ” Sweet Basil’s Cafe” came from? One elderly gentleman asked if the owners name was Basil. Growing up in New York when Jazz ruled the entertainment scene in the City clubs like Birdland, The Village Gate, Blue Note, The Vangard, the Metropole and Downbeat were showcasing top jazz acts. On that list of whos who clubs was Sweet Basil, which opened in 1974 as a health-food restaurant and became a jazz spot a few years later. Through the 1980’s and 90’s Sweet Basil was among the top four or five jazz clubs in New York. In the mid-80’s, the club’s heyday, Gil Evans and David Murray, among others, recorded live albums there. I was fortunate enough to have enjoyed many nights in the NYC jazz scene and had the opportunity to see and hear some of the jazz greats over the years.


Lil Bayou – Seaside, Oregon

When I opened my first restaurant music was a critical part of it’s makeup. The Pepper’d Owl was a Supper Club and dinner reservations were made to revolving around the music. Years later when we moved to the coast in 1999 and opened Lil Bayou again within a year or two music was an important part of it’s life. After selling Lil Bayou the concept was to only do a vegetarian friendly lunch spot. Well as it turned those hours didn’t last long, it’s lunch and dinner and music is of course an important part of our makeup.

So there’s the story about a name……..”Sweet Basil’s Cafe”