Key Lime Pie, Mocha Macchiato, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie with Double Gingersnap Crust, in a shot glass and less than 300 calories each? That's what I, and Seasons 52 Fresh Grill, call "Mini Indulgences".
After my best friend's yacht wedding, I took a nap to kill the jetlag and woke up feeling hungry for some fresh flavors. Since I stayed at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, we decided to hit up Seasons 52 Fresh Grill & Wine Bar, a brand new branch in the Orange County from its homebase of Florida.
Magic in the MenuSeasons 52 is best known for its seasonal menu, which changes every season to highlight the produce and fresh catch from local farmers' markets. Alongside that, each one of its dishes is only 475 calories and below, which reflects their motto of "A fresh dining experience that celebrates living well."
How can you get fine dining food for only 475 calories and below? Seasons 52 does not have a fryer in their kitchen. Instead, wood-fire grill and brick-oven cooking dominates the kitchen action. The vegetables are caramelized to bring out the natural flavors. They use no butter and limit the addition of oil to just bring out the great flavor profiles of the fresh ingredients. Sounds like a health resto?
Not after you see their encompassing Wine Bar which offers over 100 different bottles, 60 available by the glass. “I judge a wine list by the flavor, price and approachability of the entry level wines,” says George Miliotes, Master Sommelier for Seasons 52 and the152nd Master Sommelier in the world. Wine has reservatrol, it's good for your heart!
Raspberry Sweet Teatini
I started with a cocktail, which I seem to have done a lot on every meal I had during the trip. I ordered the Raspberry Sweet Teatini, which sounded tame with Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and Raspberry puree. One sip of this Teatini, and you can smell the liquor as well as taste it. It was sweet, tart, and strong. This is a lethal potion dressed up in a cute Teatini name. One Drink Wonder...
We started with an Organic Baby Spinach Salad with seasonal sliced pears, toasted pine nuts and crumbled gorgonzola cheese. It was light, crisp and extremely fresh tasting with the baby epone (french for spinach) giving a slight nutty flavor. Grilled chicken would've made this dish a complete meal.
Seasons 52 is famous for their delicious flatbreads. Healthier than a pizza, but tasty and huge, I don't know how this is less than 475 calories. I picked the Grilled Steak & Cremini Mushroom Flatbread with fresh spinach & Wisconsin bleu cheese. the bread was thin but not soggy, the toppings' flavor was layered and complemented every component. I especially enjoyed the brininess of the bleu cheese which added a mellow tang to every bite.
I decided to be adventurous and order the Grilled Venison Chops with Balsamic Demi Glace Fresh Greens in an Au Jus sauce. Venison is the culinary name for deer meat, so I'm hoping my little chops were not part of road kill. The meat was surprisingly tender, since venison is like a gamier version of beef, but leaner. It has a richer meatiness to it, and was cooked perfectly to medium-rare.
It was a large plate of 2 big chops and I couldn't even finish the other one. Now I can say I've eaten Bambi.
Next up was the Cedar Plank Smoked Atlantic Salmon with whole-roasted sweet carrots, fresh asparagus and red bliss potatoes. That little black platelet below the salmon is charred cedar, which gave the fish a delightful smokey flavor, while keeping it moist, delicate, and perfectly cooked. I wonder where I could get Cedar planks to cook my fish in, as the flavor truly injects itself on the fish.
Another Entree was the Grilled Boneless Rainbow Trout with roasted new potatoes, asparagus, baby carrots and broiled lemon. First off, I was stunned at the size of the trout! The simple method of grilling highlighted the freshness of the fish, with just a slight acidity from the lemon which cuts in on the natural oils of the fish. This was delicious, simple, and perfectly executed.
And for Dessert: Award Winning Mini Indulgences
Created and founded in 2002 by Seasons 52, these ingenius shotglasses are flavor bombs of everyone's favorite desserts: Mocha Macchiato, Belgian Chocolate Rocky Road, Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse, Key Lime Pie, Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Snap Crust, Old-Fashioned Carrot Cake, Pecan Pie with Vanilla Mousse and Market Fresh Fruit. Which one should I NOT pick?!
I decided to settle with Key Lime Pie, Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Snap Crust, and Carrot Cake. Each spoonful was a creamy, dreamy flavor-bomb and had perfectly identical flavor profiles of the more calorific pie and cake originals. They used pudding to lend creaminess without the overload of calories.
And instead of Coffee or Tea, I just ordered a Mocha Macchiato Mini Indulgence. Hey, I'm sure the calories in this shotglass are less than the real cup of Joe. AMAZING! and the white/milk chocolate tuile added a nice chocolate crunch to the coffee & creme concoction.
After Seasons 52, I'm now convinced that eating healthy doesn't necessarily mean steamed broccoli forever. In a place like this, you can have you cake and eat it too!
Visit Seasons 52 and see all their food. 475 and below!
Seasons 52 at South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Phone: (714) 437-5252
Fax: (714) 437-5352