Seb’s bistro

Rochester Park was supposed to be a charming hideaway of restaurants set amid lush greenery—at least in theory. In practice, it isn’t just the less successful cousin of Dempsey Hill which never quite took off; it’s secluded and plain out of the way.

We were in the mood for a quiet meal and thought Seb’s would be an ideal choice. After all, how bad could casual French food be? Set in an old colonial black and white house, the eatery is entirely alfresco and suitably laidback.

We christened our meal with a cold cut platter ($19). Unfortunately, they were out of rabbit terrine, but there were still pork rillettes, country pâté and pork belly. The rillettes were stringy and bland, and had a strong pork smell that wasn’t the most appealing. The pâté fared only a little better; while slightly tough, it had a decent flavor. The slices of pork belly were the worst: Disappointing pieces of pale flesh and fat that really did injustice to the pig it came from. The Italian open face sandwich ($15) was a decent effort, although all the capers, red, yellow and green peppers, rocket, onions, Parma ham, parmesan and tomatoes still didn’t distract from the fact that our carbs were at least a day old.

Hoping to find some redemption, we turned our attention to the house-made cannelloni ($18). It was not to be found. The pasta was soggy, and the ricotta and spinach thyme cream filling resembled baby food with a gritty texture that we found hard to swallow. Quite possibly the star of the meal was our dessert of rhubarb crumble. Served with a luscious and smooth vanilla bean ice cream, the sweetness and richness played beautifully off the mild tartness of the soft rhubarb and crunchy texture of the crumble.

All said, while we’ve been known to travel for food, the dessert alone doesn’t justify us making this journey again.