- Reporters Desk
Compagnon Wine Bistro
By Gretchen Williams, Dining and Cuisine Writer
The secret of France is the beauty in every moment, every breath and every new sight. The French attitude to life is basic but full of delight, in art, in food, in wine and in love. France has many qualities in common with California, especially the sunlight, the soil and the proximity to the sea. Take a trip to the South of France at Compagnon Wine Bistro on the “Riviera of 7th Street.’’ The romantic atmosphere of the Côte d’ Azur is present in every detail, the French blue accents, the woven bistro chairs, the charming art, the subtle music, the proper table setting.
Compagnon Wine Bistro is warm and embracing, fragrant with the aroma of roasting coq au vin, lush with the promise of a thoughtful wine list. Winter weather and the delicious choices on the menu at Compagnon are perfectly suited. Authentic French onion soup is generously laden with molten cheese on crouton, steaming with rich broth and thick with sliced onion. The fresh oysters on the half-shell and chilled Champagne seems like just the thing for a loving tête à tête.
Make reservations now for the Valentine’s Day prix fixe menu at Compagnon Wine Bistro. Monsieur and Madame are planning three courses: soup pistou, a lovely vegetable broth with crouton and pistou, a flavorful sauce of herbs and garlic or poached pear salad with spring greens; a choice of steelhead trout, filet mignon with pomme frites or duck confit; and apple tartine or crème brûlée. Reserve for 5:30 or 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14. $59 per person.
335 W. 7th St., San Pedro
Valentine’s Day in Downtown
Valentine’s Day in Downtown San Pedro promises to be loving and affectionate, as well as delicious. Sebastian’s on 7th Street is the cozy and intimate cafe with terrific food that every neighborhood needs. Great coffee is important in San Pedro and Sebastian’s is a strong contender for best java.
Sebastian’s Mediterranean is the cuisine of the south of Europe, the menu circling the Mediterranean Sea as the countries of the Mediterranean hug the coastline. The common elements of seafood, olive oil, whole grains, grapes and wine, citrus and greens, abundant herbs and fruit all contribute to the robust and well-rounded diet of the countries adjacent to the sea.
The mild climate and many days of sunshine create ideal growing conditions, and the rocky soil is especially good for wine grapes. This kind of climate and atmosphere is thought to be the optimum for the long and healthy lives enjoyed by the inhabitants.
San Pedro is blessed with the fine Mediterranean climate as well, soaking up plenty of sunshine and benefitting from great produce and seafood. Sebastian’s appetizer menu demonstrates the variety and appeal of the Mediterranean area. Tzatziki and hummus are two dishes that have crossed borders over the centuries. Tzatziki is the refreshing and soothing salad of thinly-sliced cucumber with plain yogurt, lively with garlic. The hummus is the smooth puree of garbanzo beans blended with olive oil, lime and garlic.
Both of these pleasing dips are good on bread as well as pita, crudité or breadsticks. Papas bravas is a Spanish dish, full of flavor, with potatoes marinated with garlic and then roasted, sprinkled with Parmesan and served with homemade aioli. Verdure arrostite are oven roasted vegetables, marinated with herbs and served with tzatziki. Chim Chim Shrimp is amazing, a step up from the usual scampi. The best deal on the menu is probably the zuppa di mare, known in Pedro as cioppino. This is a good broth, packed with seafood, nicely seasoned and $11. A real taste of San Pedro.
Salads, thy name is Sebastian’s. The tabbouleh is unusual, with Israeli couscous in lieu of bulgur wheat, but scrumptious. It has lot of mint and parsley and lemon—it’s lovely. The beet salad is deep with flavor, roasted beets with spring greens, dressed with housemade balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled with feta cheese, pine nuts and dried cranberries. Caesar salad is a fine example of the art, with the requisite crisp romaine, croutons and very good house-made Caesar dressing. Greek salad is classic cucumber, green pepper, tomato and red onion with tart feta cheese, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Sebastian’s is master of the grill, with a splendid choice of kabobs (chicken, salmon, filet mignon or vegetables), lamb chops marinated with herbs or the fish or meat of the day. Skillfully grilled, each choice is served with roasted vegetables or rice and a choice of salad.
Specialties of the house lean to the Italian, with lasagna and eggplant parmigiana leading a list of favorites. Lasagna is not the heavy dish of the standard red sauce menu, but a whole new experience at Sebastian’s. It’s mad with velvety pasta, creamy cheeses, light sauce, baked with care, and it’s fantastic. Eggplant parmigiana is the dish Marcello dreamed about, with thinly-sliced eggplant, baked not fried and lightly sauced. Capellini pomodoro is the dish as it is meant to be served, made with a light touch. You will feel happy after eating this pasta.
309 W. 7th St., San Pedro