June 17, 2009
Sebastian's wins praise from OnMilwaukee.com
Sebastian's in Caledonia received a big shout-out this week from OnMilwaukee.com -- a glowing restaurant review that may force us locals to make reservations earlier, or be shut out by interlopers from the big city.
"Dive into something ethereal," suggests food writer Amy Schubert, after recounting the restaurant's history, decor and menu. She says Sebastian's is an "enticing reason" to visit Caledonia, for a "surprisingly comfortable, casual, yet high-end dining experience in one of the more beautiful restaurant spaces in our area."
Scott and Patrice Sebastian are understandably pleased with the good review (by no means their first), but they're equally eager to discuss the garden Patrice is growing behind the restaurant -- visible from the dining room's picture window -- on a portion of their five-acre site. OnMilwaukee.com calls it an herb garden, but the raised beds house just as many vegetables. The garden is mostly Patrice's domain -- it is she who has a degree in horticulture, after all -- but Scott says it's also turning into his hobby.
"It's very fulfilling," he says, "planting it, tending it, harvesting and cooking it." He also keeps track of the downside, noting that "three bean plants are missing," presumably becoming dinner for local rabbits.
Growing fresh vegetables fits perfectly with the Sebastians' desire to serve fresh, healthful food. They shop at the farmers' market each week, and buy as much locally grown food as possible: pork, lamb and poultry from organic farms in Racine County. Of course, the seafood that makes up a large part of their menu comes from farther away...
The restaurant is approaching its ten-year anniversary; they opened on Jan. 19, 2000, and are already thinking of ways to celebrate. This was not their first restaurant -- as OnMilwaukee.com notes, they have a long history in Milwaukee, where Patrice was a community organizer and Scott a fireman when they opened their first place -- a lunch and catering-only cafe. (They also ran the Yellow Rose in downtown Racine, at the corner of Main and Fourth Streets, for five years, closing it last summer when the building's owner needed the space for his own business.)
As OnMilwaukee.com notes, Sebastian's is "high end," more expensive than the neighborhood pizza places Milwaukeeans usually seek out in Racine. So how has the economic decline affected it? "The effect is noticeable," Scott says, "especially when you try to serve the quality of food we serve." Still, they appear to have weathered the initial storm; "Things are more or less back where they were," he says, although instead of an $80 bottle of wine, diners are choosing a $40 bottle. "I thought it would be a lot worse." They've reacted by adding a specially priced dinner on Friday nights: For $19.95 diners get soup or salad, a choice from two entrees and dessert.
Sebastian's, located at 6025 Douglas Ave., is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday.