NORWALK, Conn. -- Tanisha Williams started out in accounting but found it pretty boring. She tried insurance sales and had similar feelings about that business.
“There was just no love. What I really loved to do was cook,” said the Jamaica native, who had been collecting recipes since she was 9 years old and started experimenting with them at her mother’s approval. “Before you know it, I was doing family dinners and family parties,” and at 19 started a side personal chef business that in 2007 became Fragrant Basil Personal Chef Service.
She has worked with clients with varying diets and food allergies for more than two decades.
Now she runs Fragrant Basil Juice Cafe at 11 Main St. in Norwalk, an organic and gluten-free restaurant which opened at its current location in June. It was briefly located across the street in 2015.
With a name like Fragrant Basil Juice Cafe, you might gather that there is an abundance of drink and smoothie offerings at the juice bar.
“That name came out of an actual dream I was having, and I woke up to the smell of basil in the house. And I decided that Fragrant Basil would be the name of my personal chef-ing business, but when I ended that, I decided to keep it for the restaurant itself,” Williams said.
Here are six other can’t-miss items off the menu:Immune-boosting shots (1 or 2 ounces)
Options include wheat grass, coconut garlic and ginger shots. “It would be a concentrated form of those things,” Williams said, “and you down it as you would at a liquor bar.”
Stuffed omelette with sriracha hash
One of the favorite breakfast items on the menu is this hearty combo of eggs stuffed with a cheese blend, mixed baby greens, bell peppers, herbs and mushrooms. It is drizzled with ahi sauce and sriracha sauce, comes with sweet or russet potato hash and a side of multigrain toast. “People love the fact that it’s filling, but also tasty,” Williams said. “If someone comes in and they are hungry, I would tell them to go for a stuffed omelette with sriracha.”
“This one is another big seller,” Williams said. And why not? Toasted multigrain slices are topped with avocado, capers and extra-virgin olive oil. “If you have one [order], you may want to feel like you want one or two more.”
Marinated in a “secret” dressing (all dressings are made in-house), this can be topped with bell peppers or cucumber kimchi, avocado and marinated red onions. For a protein boost, add basil-poached chicken.
No dairy? No problem. There’s plenty of taste packed into five picks of Cherry Chocolate Bliss (cherries, banana, cacao, almond milk, almond butter), Nuts About You (pistachios, banana, cashew milk, vanilla, sea salt, agave/honey/dates), Adam's Apple Pie (pistachios, banana, cashew milk, vanilla, sea salt, agave/honey) Vanilla Milkshake (hemp seeds, cashew milk, banana, vanilla, sea salt, agave/honey/dates) and a Strawberry Milkshake (hemp seeds, cashew milk, strawberries, agave/ honey, sea salt).“One customer described our milkshakes as something from way back when. The only difference is that they are healthy for you,” Williams said.
Made with seasonal grilled vegetables, mixed baby greens, vegan cheese or the house-blend cheese mix on a choice of bread. “The secret addition is our homemade pesto,” Williams said.