Sebastian's tries to be all things to all eaters, and does a pretty good job of it.
This Severna Park bar-restaurant, until recently the Gingerbread Man, is Michael Dalesio's newest. He's the restaurateur who opened Dalesio's in Little Italy, went on to run the dining room on the top of the Brookshire Hotel for a while, and was involved with Ransome's Harbor Hill Cafe in South Baltimore. He likes to open restaurants and then move on to the next project.
dTC Now he's general manager of Sebastian's. When it was the Gingerbread Man, it was a Friday's sort of place -- only it out-Fridayed Friday's, with a bigger bar, more brass, more stained glass. (Example: the ladies room has a stained-glass door.) After the beginning of the year, Sebastian's new owners plan to renovate, but right now the biggest changes are in the menu.
They don't want to lose the customers who used to come for the bar food, says Dalesio, so they have bar food. But they try to make it really good bar food. Sebastian's is also a family restaurant, with a children's menu of $3.99 dinners.
Looking for a neighborhood spot where you can get a quick bite after work? Sebastian's has pastas for under $10 and chicken dishes for just a bit more.
And then there's the fairly haute cuisine, like the $25 grilled veal chop, marinated in olive oil and herbs, with wild mushrooms, roasted new potatoes and a demi-glace.
Our meal fell somewhere in between the extremes -- not bar food, but not the most expensive dishes on the menu, either. Some of it was fairly standard fare done pretty well, like the eggplant parmigiana layered with soft, hot ricotta cheese. A smooth cream of crab soup with lump crab meat would have been just about perfect if it hadn't been so peppery. Fisherman's pasta featured clams, mussels, scallops and shrimp in a chunky tomato sauce over linguine -- good enough, but not particularly notable.
What was notable was a Chicken Marsala Sebastian Style. The tender boneless breast was baked with artichoke hearts and soft, mild cheese, then finished with a creamy sauce tinged with Marsala. It was decorated with rosemary-scented red-skinned potatoes. Not exactly the spa cuisine Dalesio is known for, but delicious.
Equally good were sliced medallions of pork loin with a dark, tart-sweet sauce of apples and rosemary. They came with swirls of buttery mashed potatoes.
An excellent first course of lump crab meat and sliced portobello mushrooms sauteed in butter and finished with brandy was arranged over rounds of French-bread toast.
Dinners come with a fine house salad made with fresh greens, good cherry tomatoes, black olives and peppers and dressed with a sparkling balsamic vinaigrette.
Desserts are made on the premises. My favorite was a spicy pumpkin cheesecake in a cookie crust, but the bread pudding with butterscotch sauce couldn't be faulted, either. Only the apple pie with an inedible crust was a bust.
Sebastian's is a place to keep your eye on, in spite of the fact that the decor makes it look like just another chain restaurant, and the service wasn't great. (Our waiter had too many tables to handle comfortably.) But the food is good -- sometimes better than good -- and the prices are reasonable if you stay away from that very tempting veal chop.
Where: 566A Ritchie Highway, Severna Park
Hours: Open every day for lunch and dinner
Prices: Appetizers, $5.75-$12.50; entrees, $6.75-$25; major credit cards
Pub Date: 12/07/97