Scorcher reviews: Sebastian
26 Esplanade, Williamstown
Click PLAY below to hear Scorcher’s review on 3AW Breakfast
Ross and John are big fans of San Sebastian.
They’re so smitten, in fact, with the Basque town in northern Spain, most notable for its vibrant culinary scene, that they given it a cute little nickname: “Disneyland for adults”.
With child-like enthusiasm, the boys have regaled us with tales of sessions spent ambling through the town’s tapas bars, pumping themselves full of pintxos and plonk until they’re reached the point of explosion – like fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle.
Now, with the opening of Sebastian in Williamstown, those wanting to experience a bit of Basque beachside culture right here in Melbourne need only to cross the West Gate, rather than three continents.
The brainchild of two high school mates (one of which also has a hand in San Telmo, Pastuso and Asado) who spent a few sun-soaked summers in Basque Country, Sebastian is a bright and breezy 250-seater restaurant where you can sit and watch the waves roll in with a spritz, a steak or a sangria (or all three).
The approachable menu is domiciled in San Sebastian and divided into thirds: pintxos, small plates and larger mains, most of which are cooked over the charcoal grill. Pick over of few pinxtos to start (croquettes with leek ash aioli; charred local octopus; anchovy, olive and pepper skewers) before moving on to shareable plates of crispy school prawns with paprika or tuna ceviche with blood orange reduction.
If you’ve brought your appetite, you may be tempted by the chuleton, a 1.2kg slab of Black Angus beef; if not, the whole flounder or the Victorian lamb rump with lemon and sumac are easily shareable.
Some advice: make sure you signal to your waiter that you’re not in a rush if you want to avoid everything coming out at once. Our three rounds of food all hit the table at breakneck speed, before I even had the chance to finish my can of beer. We were in the mood for an epic, long-haul edible journey, but ended up going for a heady spin around the block.
What was delivered on the plate was mostly wonderful, however. Little skewers of foie gras wrapped in slithers of beef fillet were a lovely way to open our eating account, and the Basque crispy mussels with fermented chilli were a spicy, crunchy delight.
When summer hits, and the city starts to sizzle, Sebastian’s vast outdoor deck that sits right on the sand could become Melbourne’s go-to place to watch the sun dip into the sea – perhaps even as popular as the queue for Space Mountain.
Sebastian may not be able to match Disneyland as the “happiest place on Earth” but this beachfront bistro is still a merry spot for adults to come to Basque in some Spanish-inspired charm in Melbourne’s west.
Sebastian, 26 Esplanade, Williamstown; Mon-Sun, 10am-late, pintxos $4-$7; small dishes $11-$20; mains $32-$140