It seems like Seasons 52 is as allergic to the word "chain" as I am. The word does not show even once in any of their marketing materials. At the media preview for the Edison location on January 28 (grand opening is on January 30), which I attended with my precocious daughter, one staffer told me that they can also be regarded as "an establishment with multiple locations." I was tickled by this.
In their press release, the dining experience at Seasons 52 "(enables guests) to celebrate living well" with a menu that changes four times a year to reflect the changing flavors of the four seasons. There is no item on the menu over 475 calories, which means everything on your plate is strategically placed to pack a punch without loading you up with empty calories. There's no bread basket with butter and no bowl of chips, which are a waste of stomach realty anyway. My daughter probably said it best when she declared that she was "full without feeling full" at the end of the meal.
For those who believe that wine is the most important accompaniment to food, there's an impressive wine list created by one of the world's master sommeliers. Wine figures so prominently that you see bottles at every turn, as they are worked into the decor. Glasses are also generously poured, sized at 1/4 of the bottle, so whether you order a glass or a bottle, the pricing is nearly the same.
Upon arrival, I was greeted with a glass of champagne and given a tour of the restaurant, which was "built from the ground up," as managing partner, Nikki Tiedgen, informed me, giving them freedom to create their own space rather than work with a pre-existing building. The tour was efficiently done in a counter-clockwise fashion, from the chef's table, exposed kitchen, private dining rooms, along the piano bar, the wine cellar, and then to the main dining room, where we were seated.
Our meal consisted of items we picked from the menu and also items that the chef selected and brought to our table. We started with an amuse bouche of lump crab over guacamole and pico de gallo, two types of hummus, lobster flatbread, and spinach & pear salad. Our main course included scallops over risotto, a whole branzino fish, a vegetarian sampler, and a lobster tail accompaniment. We finished with 9 types of mini indulgence desserts and coffee. Our lovely server, Shannon from Arizona, suggested a Markham chardonnay to pair with our pescetarian theme, while my daughter had her fill of Shirley Temples.
Bad news first: the lobster and the lavosh crackers were too salty for me. Also, the Winter Vegetarian Tasting was not very winter-themed-- with the mango, cold quinoa, and citrus, reading more like summer than winter.
Even with that critique, everything was delightfully delicious! The "living well" motto equates to perfectly sized dishes bursting with complexity. The grilling and sparse use of oil allowed me to taste the natural ingredients and flavors. The minted edamame hummus was cool and mild, without the usual aftertaste of hummus. The warm pears and bleu cheese provided a good contrast. The lemon zest in the flatbread and citrus in the quinoa were fun surprises. The branzino was pleasant and the scallops melted in my mouth. And the vegetables on the plate aren't just ornaments-- they really complete the dishes.
My daughter thoroughly enjoyed sampling the desserts, and her favorites were the fresh fruit and key lime pie. I couldn't decide which were my favorites, but judging from the contents/emptiness of the cups, it looks as though I enjoyed the chocolate peanut butter mousse and pecan pie with vanilla mousse best. The "mini indulgence" desserts are mini in both size and price, so you can have just a taste or you can indulge, depending on your mood.
Now, since I stuck to vegetarian and pescetarian themes tonight, that only means one thing: I now have a valid excuse to return with a carnivorous vengeance! I'd also love to sit at the piano bar next time, so that I can request renditions of Lady Gaga's hits.
Thanks again to the staff of Seasons 52 for a wonderful dining experience. My belly and I both look forward to enjoying the changing of the seasons with you!
P.S. I take credit for adding this restaurant to Urbanspoon!