Basil Asian Bistro is a contemporary Pan-Asian restaurant placing emphasis on freshness and food quality. The sushi menu, created by the classically trained Nobuo Kobayashi, would best be described as elegant, yet modern Japanese cuisine. Come visit one of Franklin's local independent establishments, and escape the norm.
Pad Thai Cafe's menu of popular Asian plates and authentic Thai cuisine crafted with fresh, delectable ingredients heeds the call of grumbling bellies with delectable dishes. Rice noodles, peanuts, sprouts, scallions, egg, and garlic tango in the pad thai dish, and chili, garlic, jalapeño, basil, egg, and scallion congregate for a savory conference in the spicy basil Thai-fried rice ($8.50–$16 depending on choice of protein). Order an appetizer, such as the crab rangoon ($5 for six pieces), house fresh spring rolls ($4.50 for two), or fried spring rolls ($3 for two), and nibble on tasty bites instead of chewed-up pen caps. Stop by the café to sate a midday craving or eschew afternoon soap-opera viewings to enjoy a lunch special such as the kung pao chicken, a spicy mélange of chili, nuts, baby corn, and chicken ($5.95).
Thai Pattaya's chefs demonstrate a mastery of myriad cooking styles with their pan-Asian dishes, from the Vietnamese soup known as pho to plates of to crispy tamarind duck. Chicken, beef, and veggies commingle within bowls of rice noodles, or with fried rice flavored with basil, lime, and other classic herbs harvested late at night from the backyards of homes in Thailand. The kitchen team also crafts fragrant curries as well as less-common specialties such as a grilled panang salmon with kaffir-lime leaves.
The chef at Thai Papaya tantalizes taste buds with fresh-to-order dishes concocted from family recipes handed down through generations straight from Thailand. Traditional Thai favorites such as pad thai ($10.95) and deep-fried spring rolls ($4.50–$7.95) populate the menu alongside spicy specialties such as jungle curry ($10.95), which descends upon dense stomach terrains with bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and a choice of meat, all served by a waiter with a safari hat and musket. Sensitive tongues can avoid a mouth-fire with milder fare, including chicken cashews ($11.50) that juggle sweet peppers and onions to entertain their audience of egg whites and rice. Thai Papaya Cuisine also features a separate vegetarian menu for diners who converted to a meatless diet in hopes that it'll reverse their unfortunate metamorphosis into a velociraptor.
Housed within the restored 1893 Fletcher House, The Bistro honors the spirit of Bowling Green's Fountain Square and historic downtown with a menu of refined American cuisine. However, in the American tradition, the chefs also look abroad for culinary inspiration, finding room for lots of dishes from Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean. Those influences shine through in dishes such as the chicken piccata and the lobster ravioli with champagne-leek cream sauce. Hand-cut rib eye steaks and herb-marinated pork chops represent a classic supper-club spirit, while beignets stuffed with crabmeat and shrimp and grits spiked with bloody-mary sauce celebrate The Bistro's Southern roots.
Walls of moss-green brick surround the rich cherry wood tables and chairs that fill the ground-level dining room, lit by glowing pendant lamps. A piano invites occasional live music, which drifts upstairs to a more intimate private dining space. Behind a rustic wooden bar lies a worldly collection of wines, which includes bottles from California and Oregon as well as France, Argentina, Australia, Italy, and Atlantis.
Before breakfast crowds arrive, chefs at Fish & Grits roll out crusts for key-lime pie and caramel cheesecake and spread icing onto chocolate cakes as they cool. Though diners may not crave sweets for hours, so much of the Southern-infused menu is made-to-order that the cooks need to prep as much as they can before servers start swarming into the kitchen with orders. For breakfast, they flip customized omelets, and for lunch they toss individual portions of creamy tuna or chicken salads. Tilapia fillets blacken to a flaky finish on the grill, while catfish sizzles to a golden brown in the deep fryer. To supplement the savory seafood, grits come in six flavors—one for each chamber of the human stomach.