The battle between healthy, low calorie food and flavor is finally going to come to a grinding halt as Seasons 52 opens in Costa Mesa on August 30th in the South Coast Plaza. The concept of not serving any dish over 475 calories is making its first endeavor on the west coast after several years up and down the east coast, and it is going to prove that you can eat a healthy, well-proportioned meal and be completely satisfied.
475 calories might be a hard number to swallow at first as you might be thinking what type of portion or what could that possibly be. The concept behind Seasons 52 is one that will hopefully take off, and help bring a healthy way of eating back to the United States. You are not going to see plates that are bulging with a huge serving of food or with a monster-sized steak; what you will find is a serving that is appropriate for the standard diet: each serving is six to seven ounces of lean meat. What that means is that you will leave Seasons 52 pleasantly satisfied, not only with the portion but even more so with the flavor and taste.
Based on the time of year, Seasons 52 will vary the seafood options on its menu, but if it listed, you must try the Wild Pacific Salmon that is served on a Cedar Plank. Grilled to a tender perfection you are really allowed to enjoy the entire flavor of the salmon itself while the cedar adds a little extra hint of flavor, and is served with a vegetable stock based sauce that is complimented by fresh asparagus and red bliss potatoes. The Sea Scallops are another great choice, as they are given just a touch of extra flavor with lemongrass, but again, grilled the scallops are very tender and fresh and are paired with sun-dried tomato pearl pasta. As good as the main dishes are, you will find that what is paired on each plate will bring you much joy in eating as they are so fresh. Seasons 52 also offers chicken, pork, lamb, filet mignon and quail. So while you are eating healthy, don’t think you will be denied any of your favorite dishes. Other than dessert, none of the dishes at Seasons 52 are prepared using butter. They use healthier alternatives and they do it in a controlled fashion, so they make sure that they know how many calories they are putting into each dish. Trust me, you do not lose any flavor at all by not using butter.
The most flavorful item on the menu is actually a new twist to an old favorite, ravioli. The Goat Cheese Ravioli is nothing like any ravioli I have previously eaten. The goat cheese and spinach itself was very flavorful; the twist was that, instead of the normal pasta, which is very thick and filling itself, they use an egg roll wrapper. I loved it! So thin, you do not get bogged down with heavy pasta, and it allows you to enjoy more of what is actually inside the ravioli. The other nice touch is that it is cooked in and served with a vegetable broth, which gave the ravioli itself an entirely different feel, a more moist and light flavor that made for a great combination. While I would say this is the best way to start off your meal, Seasons 52 also has some great flatbreads that are cooked in their wood fire grill, and for anyone who enjoys pizza, you will love them.
Seasons 52 has come up with a salad that jumped over the classic “Caesar Salad” to become my new favorite salad and that is the Organic Greens with Oak-Grilled Mushrooms and Truffle Dressing. The dressing is a combination of truffle oil, olive oil, miso, soy sauce and lemon juice. While being healthy and low-calorie, this dressing just explodes off the plate, giving your salad so much flavor you do not need to do anything else to it.
The time spent developing this one-of-a-kind menu can only be rivaled by the time that Master Sommelier George Miliotes has put into composing an assortment of wine that will take you to places you might never have been. George has literally traveled far and wide, cultivating contacts throughout the world, enabling him to bring in wines that you likely have not come across. And by doing his homework, he provides superior wines at an amazing value to the customer. George has brought in the Raats Family Wines from South Africa, which is not your typical region of wine but if you try it you will be happy you did. He also treats his customers to my personal favorite, the Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2006, an amazing dessert wine. George was able to work a deal that offers the customer a spectacular wine at a price far below the quality of the wine. One last interesting point on the wine, if you notice on each wine glass there is a 52. This is placed on the glass to make sure you are given a full portion with every pour, a very nice touch.
To finish off the evening, Seasons 52 provides you with a chance not to ruin that fabulously healthy meal by giving you something to satisfy that sweet tooth of yours, in a tasty way. The mini-indulgence was created in 2002, and was so popular you are likely to see other variations in other restaurants, but this is the original. These desserts are served in -a slightly-bigger-than-a-shot-glass portion, giving you a few bites but lots of flavor; this is more than enough! The serving staff recommend the Mocha Macchiato and the Pecan Pie over Vanilla Mousse; both are amazing. There were levels of flavors to each dessert that were so rich they would certainly leave you satisfied. They offer a number of other minis, including the Fresh Fruit mini if you are looking to keep with the completely healthy theme. Let yourself indulge a little bit here though and grab one of these tasty minis. Not only does the staff make terrific recommendations, but they are as friendly of a group of servers as you will find anywhere, they really enhance the dining experience.
A lot of work and experimenting in the kitchen has paid off in a menu that has accomplished its mission of giving you an incredible amount of flavor in a wide assortment of dishes and keeping you on a healthy path. Not an easy goal, but Seasons 52 pulled it off. The setting of Seasons 52 offers a beautifully designed interior complimented by a nightly piano bar, and the chance to enjoy a gorgeous Orange County evening on the outdoor patio with a stunning fire pit to create a perfect nighttime experience. If you have a special occasion in mind for your family or a larger group, Seasons 52 has a chef’s table that is perfect for this type of dining experience. You can set this up in advance and work with Executive Chef Tim Kast in creating a special menu; he will then walk you and your group through your evening to make the night truly memorable.
After one dining experience at Seasons 52 you are likely to change your eating habits and how you view the food on your plate. Being viewed as a health-conscious state, it is great to welcome not only this restaurant, but also this concept to California.
For more information on Seasons 52, visit: www.seasons52.com