My first Seasons 52 experience was years ago in Orlando when it was a mere concept restaurant. Since then it has slowly expanded into Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. On August 30, 2010 Seasons 52 opened in the OC, joining the restaurant revolution taking place at South Coast Plaza.
The Concept: fresh, in-season cuisine clocking in at 475 calories or less.
The Setting: Stylish, trendy, fine dining.
The Wine List: 60 wines by the glass including organic wines and unoaked whites and a more extensive offering by the bottle. I tried a rich, full-bodied Paso & Paso Verdejo. My friend Keli sampled a Mandarin Orange Martini. I stole a sip and the first taste immediately reminded me of a childhood favorite candy – orange slices. The flavor then developed into a grown-up drink with a mellow kick.
The Food: Fresh, fresh, fresh. I started with a salad of mixed organic greens, toy box tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and cucumbers, tossed lightly with a white balsamic vinaigrette (171 cal, 12 g of fat).
Keli opted for the spinach salad; a mix of baby spinach, raspberries, toasted pine nuts and gorgonzola cheese (325 cal, 6g fat).
For my entrée, I chose the carmelized scallops served with asparagus and sun-dried tomato pearl pasta (447 cal, 14g fat). The serving was generous with six medium-sized, tender, buttery scallops, a plate bursting with crisp lightly dressed asparagus and a sampling of sun-dried tomato pearl pasta. Although artfully arranged, the dish stuck to the general nutritionist recommendations of ½ plate of veggies, 1/4 starch, 1/4 protein.
Keli ordered the tiger shrimp penne pasta. Like the scallops, the dish was heavy on the “market” vegetables and shrimp with a small amount of pasta and a lemon-basil sauce topped with parmesan cheese. Keli said the dish was so fresh and flavorful you didn’t notice the reduced amount of pasta. She also couldn’t believe her dish was 475 calories or less.
While we often abstain from dessert when dining together, neither of us could resist the shot glass desserts. Keli chose the Mocha Macchiato (371 cal, 20 g fat).
I chose the pecan pie (unpictured because the iPhone pic turned out blurry). Decadent pecan pie in a glass (324 cal, 18g fat). Just enough to satisfy, not enough to overwhelm. I think perhaps Season 52 modeled their dessert portion sizes after the French.
The next day a colleague and I decided to try Seasons 52 out for lunch and see if it was just as good a second time. It was.
If I had to sum up Seasons 52 in one sentence it would be “Fine dining with all of the flavor and none of the guilt.” Genius.