“We have cuisine here,” Sebasco Harbor Resort chef Sebastian Carosi says of the United States. “And it’s not just apple pie and hamburgers.”
|Sebasco Harbor Resort | 29 Kenyon Rd, Sebasco Estates | 207.389.1161|
This season, Carosi will attempt to prove his case to Sebasco’s diners with his “Pure Maine” menu — a smorgasbord of local, seasonal ingredients whipped into amazing culinary creations. A slow food enthusiast who was hired this season to man the Sebasco kitchen, Carosi combines extensive culinary training with a dedication to local food, cooked and enjoyed deliberately. The result is some banging grub (to be served in both the upscale dining room, the Pilot House, and the more casual Ledges pub downstairs) that will make an already unique destination even more so.
Carosi’s appetizers are similar to those you’d see in any high-end restaurant — pork belly, oysters, and scallops, for example — but the ingredients are plucked (mostly) from approximately 45 local purveyors within about a 100-mile radius. The Coca-Cola barbecued pork belly is from Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport (okay, Coke isn’t local, but using it as a barbecue baster is a classic Southern recipe secret, and thus falls within slow-food parameters). The oysters, served on the half-shell atop refreshing mounds of shaved ice made from Cold River vodka and chili-tomato water, are from Damariscotta. And the scallops, caramelized with bacon fat and butter from a local creamery, are harvested by the Maine Shellfish Company (I could do without the raisins in this dish, which would otherwise be my favorite).
While many guests will go for sea-based soup favorites such as the lobster bisque or haddock chowder, they’d be remiss not to convince someone at the table to order the carrot-ginger soup, if only for its arresting color scheme. The orange soup, served warm, comes to the table with a dollop of white yogurt and edible, vibrant flowers (from the Sebasco gardens, which Carosi’s wife, Melissa, will help oversee) sprinkled on top. It tastes as good as it looks.
“I definitely require that there’s not a test-tube baby on the menu,” Carosi says; therefore, the pork, beef, chicken, and duck that appear among his entrée choices are locally raised, fed a species-appropriate, healthy diet, and free-range. Likewise, the seafood options are sustainably farmed from local sources. Here, Carosi’s inspirational takes on “American food” are apparent. Take his version of meat and potatoes — "Wolfe’s Neck Farm grass-fed Maine raised beef tenderloin with pimento cheese mashed potatoes, seared spinach, smoky homemade catsup and buttermilk fried onions" (phew!). The steak is tender, the ketchup is tangy, and the onion rings have just the right amount of crunch.
Or how about his adaptation of a Maine staple — lobster? You’ve heard of country-fried steak; now you can try Carosi’s "country fried native Small Point lobster." Small Point is literally around the corner from Sebasco Harbor, giving credence to Carosi’s claim that his food goes “from farm to fork.” There are seafood options that are probably healthier, too — try the "roasted Gulf of Maine monk fish with fire blistered peppers, Aroostook County fingerling potatoes, kale, and smoked ham hock broth" (this guy gives Proust a run for his wordy money, eh?).