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A Coastal Trifecta: Basin’s Love Letter to the Mediterranean

Newly-opened Basin takes us on a trip to the Mediterranean coast, bridging the cultures and traditions of Italy, Spain and France, where healthy food and community thrive.

August 2, 2022

When asked what comes to mind when thinking about the Mediterranean Basin, Chef Antoni Bernabeu immediately responds “vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seafood”, while Restaurant Manager Erik Kirakozov talks about “the hospitality of the people, who are happy to make your day better.”

Photo: Basin

It’s a meeting of the minds that makes the newly-opened Basin what it is—a refined yet humble eatery where you’ll find healthy foods typical of the Mediterranean diet, along with a warm sense of hospitality and neighbourliness. Basin puts a premium on these fundamental values found in the Mediterranean Basin, where 22 countries converge.

“In Italian they say dolce far niente, which means 'the sweetness of doing nothing'. When you come here we don’t want you to do anything, just relax and we will take care of you,” says Erik. 

Akami crudo and smoked eggplant with sobrasada | Photo: Basin

In a past life, Erik was a football player, training and competing in Russia, London and Spain. The Georgia native then switched to the hospitality industry, amassing experiences which landed him an opportunity to work at the famous restaurant club cabaret Lío in Ibiza. It was a formative experience that taught him what his strong suit was: connecting with people. “Languages helped me a lot. I speak English, Spanish, Russian, Armenian, Georgian and understand Italian. It helps you understand the values, the culture and you just connect with people more easily. And I just fell in love with the hospitality business. I just wanted to improve, improve, improve.”

Chef Bernabeu’s story started in Valencia, Spain. “When I was little my grandpa had a restaurant, at a roadside service station. Before he passed away he sold his restaurant to pay my tuition to go to culinary school.” After his move to London, he succeeded with Dubai and Abu Dhabi before making a move to Hong Kong. He and Erik, who had also worked in Valencia, quickly befriended each other while working for Pirata Group.

Chef Bernabeu | Photo: Basin

“We are on the same frequency,” says Erik, “and together with our third business partner, who is French, we thought, let’s not stick to just one cuisine, let’s do something different and open a Mediterranean restaurant with a focus on Spain, Italy and France.”

Wanting to bring that element of home into the restaurant, the trio opted for an interior designer who usually works on homes rather than restaurants. House of Butler founder Amy Butler took the open kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows into consideration when creating an elegant yet homey space with marble and gold elements mixed in with heather grey and indigo blue hues, adding local artist Robert Lam’s paintings as the final touch. “We wanted it to be chic but still feel like a home away from home, where we can welcome back customers and treat them like family and make it personable,” explains Erik.

Erik Kirakozov with guests | Photo: Basin

For the soft opening, highlights from the menu to share included the Akami crudo with chive oil and dried tomato, with the capers and plum vinegar adding a touch of acidity. The smoked eggplant’s softness was balanced out with some fiery spice from the sobrasada. The zucchini flower, a specialty of Chef Bernabeu’s, wowed with its goat cheese, walnut and truffle filling.

“I come from a family of farmers, and we would eat the whole piece, not just the flowers. My grandma would use the ones that had not been pollinated by bees and therefore had no zucchini fruit, and we’d make that into a syrup or we would stuff them with something sweet, kind of like a pistachio paste. In Spain I had the idea to reinvent it and it really worked,” says Chef Bernabeu.

Black angus taliata | Photo: Basin

The black angus tagliata was served with three different sauces to please every diner—veal jus, mustard à l’ancienne and a delicious red mojo. The latter was our favourite, as it paired perfectly with the juicy ratatouille side. A beautiful piece of Atlantic cod covered in a parsley base followed, sitting on a bed of ganxet beans and clams and accompanied by a simple potato mille-feuille. 

We appreciated the interactive moments, like when the caesar salad arrived on a trolley to be served from the side of the table. Come this September, diners sitting at the chef counter will also be able to watch flames rise from the blue Josper charcoal oven, on which vegetables and meats will be grilled.

Atlantic cod | Photo: Basin

The desserts were a pleasant surprise as the Valrhona chocolate mousse with hazelnut, praline and sea salt was not as sweet as the traditional mousse, which made us feel less guilty finishing the rich dessert before moving on to the roasted Romea peach, drizzled with honey, mascarpone and sprinkled with pieces of pistachio.

“We preserve fruits in syrups a lot back home. So this syrup has whiskey in it and when the Josper grill arrives, the peach will have more of a smoky flavour. I always think of fruit at the end of a meal as cleansing,” says Chef Bernabeu.

Mousse au chocolat | Photo: Basin

Basin will be adding more dishes over the next week before presenting their final à la carte menu along with rotating seasonal specials. “We want our guests to have a humble meal, with fresh and clean ingredients, in an elegant setting. Simplicity at its finest,” the chef concludes.

Basin | 3/F Foco Building, 46-48 Cochrane Street, Central