by Sean Maloney
Episode 6: Basmah Sweet & Pastry
Address: 3403 Nolensville Pike
Look, I'm skipping around again! While I promise to get back to the linear path I had originally laid out for this column, this week I had to cut in line. Last weekend I ran into a chef from The Yellow Porch, and he basically convinced me that reviewing Basmah Sweet & Pastry was of the utmost importance. And you know what? I'm going to listen to a dude who's running one of Nashville's favorite food institutions — doubly so if we're both standing outside a Zappa show nerding out about food. The chef insisted that the sweets and pastries at Basmah were some of the best in the entire city, and I, after ordering 3 pounds of assorted goodies and scarfing about half of them, am totally inclined to agree.
Great Googlimooglie, Basmah has some badass baklava! Even at its worst — specifically when I try to make it — baklava is one of the best desserts on the face of the planet, but in the hands of Basmah's bakery it is simply divine. Basmah achieves that perfect equilibrium of sweet, gooey, flaky and crunchy that I can never achieve. We're talkin' slap-yer-mama-it's-so-good baklava. There's one piece left in my to-go box, and I'm so tempted to eat it, even though I know my wife would kill me for not saving her some. I mean, I'm sure she'd be happy with that half-a-doughnut — also really good! — but this baklava is so on-point it might make up for me being a sorta shitty husband.
Basmah itself is a simple little spot with not much more to declare its presence besides a fresh coat of exterior paint — bright green, you can't miss it — and display cases full of goodies. The options are pretty diverse — at least four continents represented, from what I can tell — but the level of quality is very high across the board. The Italian-style cookies were so good it reminded me of being back in Boston's North End. The sugared doughnut? Fresh, light and fluffy, the way a handmade doughnut should be. The danishes looked incredible, and the macarones — which the twentysomething Latino baker referred to as "macaronis" — were really, really tempting, but a dude has to draw the line somewhere.
I drew said line somewhere after the sesame cakes — lemon-y, sesame seed-encrusted sticks of rad — and before the bear claws. And then I crossed the line to get a couple slices of babusa — it's sweet, cake-y and wonderful, that's all I know about it — mamoul madd dates, which could be my new go-to breakfast. It's a little savory, a little sweet, and kind of like coffee cake, but with dates. What else did I get? I have no idea what they're called but they are flaky, deep-fried and covered in honey. And now I'm going to stop writing, so I can continue eating them. Needless to say, the guy from The Yellow Porch was right about this place, and now I'm putting it on you to get your ass over there and tell everybody about it.