Sebastian’s Bistro is a table service restaurant at Walt Disney World’s Caribbean Beach Resort with a tropical vibe and named after the Little Mermaid character. In this WDW dining review, we’ll share food photos from our dinner, weigh the pros and cons of eating here, and whether it’s worth the money or Disney Dining Plan credits.
We dined at Sebastian’s Bistro with some friends for dinner, which is a good thing, as going forward that’s the only meal that will be served here. Perhaps that will change during busy seasons or when Disney’s Riviera Resort opens, but it’s safe to assume that DVC resort will have its own dining options.
Another possibility is that Skyliner traffic from guests en route to Epcot will drive up the popularity of Sebastian’s Bistro. That also seems unlikely given its location relative to those two stations, but Sebastian’s is arguably one of the best World Showcase restaurants outside World Showcase.
Even for our meal during prime dinner hours, Sebastian’s Bistro was maybe one-quarter full. This is concerning, but not surprising. As dining options at Disney Springs have proliferated, resort restaurants have faded in popularity. This makes sense–resort guests staying elsewhere don’t have direct transportation to other hotels, and security at the resorts can be a hassle for locals, even with ADRs.
Thematically, Sebastian’s Bistro isn’t going to overwhelm you with a surplus of details or personality. The design is relatively minimalist, with large windows providing an airy sensibility and views of the water being what’s emphasized during daylight hours.
At night, the only thing you can see outside is the occasional beam of the nearby lighthouse. I suppose that’s moderately entrancing, for some.
Although Sebastian’s Bistro is named after the crab from Little Mermaid, the restaurant is not themed to the film. Sebastian makes an appearance on the restaurant marquee, the menu, and the centerpiece artwork at the back of the restaurant.
And thus concludes our tour of the restaurant’s film connections.
To keep Sebastian’s Bistro from being bland and without visual interest, some attention to detail is paid to finishings and the little things.
The plush chairs are substantial and befitting the location, there are artistic flourishes in the overhead beams, and splashes of color throughout the art and other decor.
Unfortunately, Sebastian’s is largely devoid of character in both a figurative and literal sense. The decor that stands out is fairly humdrum.
The art is all generic, the kind you could find on clearance at a Home Goods store or on display in a mid-tier chained brand hotel 5 miles from the ocean clumsily attempting to convey a “beach but modern” sensibility.
Walt Disney World’s recent hotel design decisions have shown a desire to appear inoffensively chic, paying face to theme without really much of substance to reinforce it. That trend continues with Sebastian’s Bistro. This is unfortunate, as the atmosphere is inviting and the look airy, but it’s just not quite there in terms of being an interesting, themed space.
Moving along to the food…
We started with the Caribbean Pull-apart Rolls with Guava Butter, Mango Chutney, and Jamaican Jerk Oil.
On the one hand, it bugs me a bit that Walt Disney World is turning bread service into a paid affair. On the other hand, the Caribbean Pull-apart Rolls belong in same breath as Sanaa’s Bread Service.
High praise, but deservedly so. The rolls were flaky, buttery, and densely delicious, but the real highlight was the sauces. The guava butter and jerk oil were both addictively good, and perfect counterparts, with each offering depth and richness.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I saved these sauces to finish off on my Yuca, which is probably not the chef’s recommended pairing but I was on cloud nine. (The chutney was fine and would’ve been more memorable were the butter and oil not so good.)
For this meal, we were joined by our friends Natana and Daniel Wanderman of WanderDisney.com. They’re both vegan and there are exactly two vegetarian/vegan dishes on the Sebastian’s Bistro menu, meaning Sarah and I had to order meat. Oh darn.
The first of their dishes is the Caribbean Vegetable Curry with Cilantro Rice, Lime Crèma, and crispy Yuca (above).
The next is Jerk Butternut Squash: “Black Beans and Cilantro Rice, Collards, and Honey-Chili Sauce.”
They enjoyed both of these dishes, remarking that it was nice to have fresh, ‘whole’ foods as opposed to a processed non-meat patty. Flavors on both were robust, and everything had a sense of freshness to it.
From my perspective, it appeared that actual care was taken to make dishes that were actually appealing, rather than just phoned in vegan options to check that box. Sarah and I have done a few of the vegetarian options at Centertown Market and found them to be similarly ambitious.
For her entree, Sarah ordered the Sustainable Fish (which was Mahi this evening) served with Mash Plantain and Escovitch Sauce.
Her Mahi was excellent, flaky and flavorful, and the plantain below and escovitch sauce gave it an interesting flavor. I’ve had escovitch sauce before, and was under the impression that it (generally) brings the heat. Could be wrong about that, but either way, it’s not the case here. Still an exceptional fish dish that evoked a sense of the Caribbean.
I took one for the team and ordered the Grilled Skirt Steak “Chimichurri” with crispy Yuca.
This was fantastic. The steak was tender and flavorful; a good cut of meat that was not over-seasoned. The chimichurri added some interesting flavor and was not a mask for subpar beef. The yuca was also a very pleasant surprise; like french fry nuggets with a crisp outer giving way to a warm and airy center.
Our server informed us that this was by far the most popular dish, which is why I ordered it. Not that I need an excuse to go for the steak or anything, but what I actually wanted here was the Caribbean Goat Curry.
Not only have I heard good things about that dish, but I’ve had goat curry several times in the (real) Caribbean and absolutely love it. Obviously, I can’t recommend something I haven’t tried, but if you’re looking for an authentic dish from the islands that’s different, consider giving it a go. That’s what I’ll be having next time.
We had heard almost nothing positive about dessert at Sebastian’s Bistro, but we decided to give it a shot, anyway. Our friends had the Message in the Bottle: “Coconut-Rice Panna Cotta, Pineapple, and Mango-Lime Sorbet.”
After what was described as a dessert with cool presentation, it was a bit disappointing to receive this. As for taste, they found the panna cotta mixed with sorbet to be intriguing and generally good.
We also ordered the Mile Marker Zero: “Iced Key Lime Pops with Sea Salt and a Tropical Fruit Sauce.” This is the one dessert about which we had heard good things.
I’d be far less charitable with my assessment of this. The contrasts of bitter, sweet, and tart didn’t really work together. While it was fun and different, at the end we both were left wishing we just had regular key lime pie. In retrospect, the approach struck us as a gimmick or crutch for subpar flavor, rather than an inventive approach done for an actual reason.
In hindsight, I wish we had skipped dessert and done more appetizers, several of which looked good.
Overall, Sebastian’s Bistro is an exceptional restaurant that we predict will slowly join Sanaa as one of Walt Disney World’s unheralded dining gems–so long as they don’t dumb down the menu. That might’ve gotten lost in our criticism of the design (which is definitely not on par with Sanaa) and desserts, but the entrees here were fantastic, as was the one appetizer we tried. I’m already trying to think of an excuse to go back (I’m hopeful but not optimistic that this review will be incredibly popular and the people will demand a sequel), as there are 4 other appetizers and 3 other entrees that I’d really like to try.
Have you dined at Sebastian’s Bistro? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Thoughts on the look of the interior of the restaurant, or on the menu? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!