21 November 2017
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Basil Thyme Times

A few months ago, I wrote a commentary on the state of the food truck nation (“OMG, It’s Food from a Truck!”) here in Washington, DC. It caused quite a stir, and it was met with a fair share of criticism. Most notably, from a certain “Black Donald Trump.”

The criticism was fair, I guess. I was just trying to get across the point that I don’t understand why people go nuts over food from a truck. Never have. Never will.

I’ll try to put this in perspective. When I was 8 years old, I used to play wiffle ball in my front yard with my friends. When we heard the marvelous sound of the ice cream man in the distance and saw that wonderful truck coming toward us, we all went ape sh*t. Kids came out of the woodwork, running down the street, lining up with their spare change, and pushing each other out of the way to get in line first.

But we are not 8 years old anymore. And we are also not lining up to buy Good Humor ice cream in the middle of the summer. We are now lining up to buy steaming-hot pad thai that is somehow magically prepared in the back of a truck.

All of that aside, the Donald pointed out that I unfairly put a certain truck (Basil Thyme) in a bad light. That was not my intention. I’m pretty opinionated, but I won’t criticize anything that I haven’t tried. And I’ll try anything (that means anything, ladies). But I do admit that I may have unfairly used food-truck-lasagna for comedic device. It was very hard not to. Thus, I may have unintentionally thrown some people under the bus (or truck).

And since D*MNGOODTIMES is the fastest-growing digital magazine in the Washington area (there is no truth to this statement), and because our loyal readers deserve much more, I went to interview the owner of Basil Thyme, Brian Farrell, to get the real scoop on Basil Thyme.

It makes for an interesting story. Brian worked in IT sales until the economy started to take a dive, and he hit the wall. I don’t blame him. Why work for the man when you can go start a business of your own doing something you love? So off he went to start what has become the premier Italian food truck in Washington, DC.

The preparation involved in making lasagna is much more time-intensive than that of a truck that serves pizza or sandwiches. He makes the noodles and the sauce from scratch everyday, which results in 12-plus hours a day of work. And that investment has paid off. Basil Thyme has operated since early June. It took about 6 months for Brian to get the operation up and rolling. But in the short time that Brian has been serving pasta, he has gathered quite a following. He currently serves more than 100 people a day during lunch.

But Brian doesn’t want to take all of the credit. It was his idea, but the success of the food is largely due to his chef, Malik Umar. Malik graduated at the top of his class from the International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Washington. Previously, he worked as executive sous chef at the Mad Rose Tavern and Abuelos’s in Tulsa, Okla.

So what was the verdict on the food?

I must tip my hat to Brian and Malik. It’s hard to provide a litmus test, because there aren’t many other options for fast-food lasagna in Washington, DC. The closest comparison I can make is to The Italian Store. For the 6 or so years that I lived in Arlington, I bought the pre-made lasagna on my way home from work at least twice a week. Basil Thyme’s was better. A lot better. And for anyone that knows me, that’s a pretty good compliment, because I sweat The Italian Store harder than the U.S. government sweats paying its bills.

I tried a few lasagnas (who can eat just one?), and they were all really good. It’s at a great price, too. I’d rather pay $10 for a healthy serving of lasagna, salad and cannoli than a processed turkey sandwich from Potbelly. If I had to find one fault (and I always have to find at least one), I would say that the white lasagna should be served sans chicken. Chicken and pasta don’t mix. Maybe it does at Macaroni Grill, but not in the real world. White lasagna with spinach tastes just fine. Either way, it was really fresh and packed with a lot of flavor.

I don’t see myself frequenting Basil Thyme, but only because I don’t crave lasagna when it’s 100 degrees outside. However, I would love nothing more than for it to be parked at 5th and K at least one night a week, so I can grab a piece for dinner on my way home from work. It would provide a great alternative to Taylor Gourmet (which has been going down as of late).

Who says food trucks can’t serve dinner, too?

To find out where you can get fresh pasta, follow Basil Thyme on Twitter.

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  1. blackdontrump says:

    Thanks for the shout out and my most certain invitation as a judge on “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” lol What I appreciate more is that you are a man of your word and did a story on Basil Thyme once you tried their food. You failed to mention that in the article, so I’ll take the liberty and do it for you. Great story on Basil Thyme. They personify what makes this country great! Congratulations and success to Basil Thyme.