Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Seasons 52 - Started Strong, Ended Strong


My mom was attending a conference in Orlando and asked if I wanted to come visit with her for a few days, and I jumped at the chance. What's a 2 hour car ride for the chance to hang out with the fam and sample some new fare? She was actually staying at a Disney property, so I had to do some searching to find a place we could eat that wasn't theme park related (aka: terrible). I read a bunch of good reviews online for Seasons 52, so I booked us reservations. I didn't realize it was a chain restaurant until I looked at their website, as I've never heard of them. But the concept intrigued me. If you can't figure it out from the name, their specials menu changes 52 weeks of the year to feature seasonally-inspired dishes. And their dinner menu changes 4 times a year with the seasons. So, I can't promise that these items will be on the menu when YOU visit, but it will at least give you a sample of their atmosphere and flavors.


The Orlando location is sprawling, and you feel more like you're entering a resort than a restaurant. A large soothing waterfall graces the outside, across from a small courtyard with outdoor tables where people were drinking and laughing and having a good time. Upon entering, you can't help but be overwhelmed by the enormity of the place. It's got an upscale, yet earthy feel featuring warm neutral tones, wooden tables and accents and palm trees in the middle of the dining room! A spiral staircase leads to an upstairs area where I'm thinking some private dining rooms exist. Either that or they're growing their own crops up there - you be the judge!


First things first - we ordered up a few drinks. My poison was a Selbach Spatlese Riesling and hers was a Mojito. The Riesling was sweet and smooth (just the way I like it) and her Mojito was expertly mixed WITH SUGAR. I don't care what anyone says, Mojitos taste too acidic unless you add a bit of sugar to balance everything out. And lets face it - no one looks cute making that weird pucker face.


When it came to appetizers, our eyes automatically went to the Articoke-Stuffed Artichoke Leaves. We weren't quite sure what to expect from a dish that sounded like it went against the very laws of nature itself, but as artichoke lovers we were game. And boy, were we happy with our selection. Each leaf was loaded with mashed, cooked artichoke hearts, parmesan cheese and drizzled with a balsamic glaze. The entire plate was topped with a bit of arugula that was also covered in the cheese and balsamic glaze. After simultaneously sucking our first leaves dry, my mom and I looked at each other, groaned and rolled our eyes simultaneously in pure bliss. You get hit with the savory, rich flavor of the artichoke and cheese first, but then the balsamic provides a nice little zip right at the end. Pure genius, I tell ya.


Our entrees, unfortunately, were not as impressive. I ordered the Caramelized Sea Scallops and she ordered the Grilled Turkey Tenderloin Skewer. While the scallops looked to die for, I don't think I would have even attempted suicide for these guys. When I saw "caramelized" in the name, I expected the crust to be a bit sweeter, but it was just regular blackening seasoning. And the whole plate seemed drenched in melted butter. It wasn't a white wine sauce (there was no tang), it wasn't a burre blanc (it was too translucent), I think it was just melted butter. And it completely saturated everything on the plate to the point where each bite just seemed like I was ingesting pure oily fat. Blech.


My mom's turkey skewer also looked delish, but when I tasted it, the turkey seemed a bit dried out. I do have to give a shout out to the tamarind glaze <TAMARIND!> because it was a nice little dipping sauce. It provided a smoky, spicy, sweet complex flavor that the turkey desperately needed. Usually, at this point, I wouldn't have even attempted dessert, but the waitress brought over these little shot glass sized beauties, and we were both powerless to their charm. I mean look at them!


I selected the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Swirl and she selected the Pecan Pie. If you can't tell from the picture, these suckers completely redeemed the entire meal. Hers was crunchy and salty from the pecans, yet caramel-y and sweet at the same time. And at the very bottom, was a nice little helping of vanilla ice cream! Mine was a sinful combination of chocolate and peanut butter mousse with chocolate fudge and chocolate/peanut butter shavings on top. It was rich and smooth and melty and amazing. I think we literally licked those shot glasses clean!

All in all, it was a nice experience. It would have been a bit nicer if the entrees had risen to the level of the appetizers and desserts that they were bookended with. But hey, at least we weren't annoyed by a perfectly perky princess during our meal.

saraSOtasty Rating:
Atmosphere - A
Taste - B (The entrees took the meal down a notch)
Presentation - B+
Service - A
Price - $$$

Restaurant Info:
Seasons 52
7700 Sandlake Road
Orlando FL 32819
407-354-5212
Website Link

Seasons 52 Fresh Grill on Urbanspoon

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