by Deborah Hansen
Seasons 52, one of the St. Johns Town Center’s newest restaurants, sets a high bar for cuisine. The menu changes quarterly and also offers weekly fresh features to take advantage of seasonal foods. Most surprising of all, however, is that nothing on the menu is more than 475 calories. Our server, Jessica, explained that this is accomplished by grilling over open fires, keeping portion sizes reasonable, using herbs and spices inventively, and caramelizing vegetables instead of using high-calorie oils and butter.
She then recommended that we start with one of the restaurant’s custom flatbreads. We chose the steak and cremini mushroom, which was large enough to share among five people. The bread was thin and crispy, with plentiful steak and mushroom. Other selections included garlic chicken, ripe plum tomato, spicy chipotle shrimp, and a rosemary & parmesan cheese crispbread. Flatbreads cost from $8-$10.
One of the most extensive sections of the menu is the appetizers, running the gamut from vegetable soup to Prince Edward Island mussels. We chose the roasted shrimp and the lump crab spinach stuffed mushrooms, which arrived at the table steaming hot. The portion size was perfect, with six large mushrooms stuffed to the brim with generous chunks of crab and tender spinach. Appetizer prices range from $5-$12.
Jessica made wine recommendations and brought samples for those of us who were unsure of a label. The restaurant touts its international wine list as highly diverse with 100 choices. There is even a whimsical text box on the menu titled “George [master sommelier] recommends drinking these before they become famous.” The wine listing in the menu is customer-friendly in that each section provides a brief description, such as “Chardonnay: Apple to citrus to tropical fruit, listed light to heavy oak,” for those who are not totally familiar with wines. Full bar service around the piano bar with live entertainment every night is a focal point of Seasons 52. Most wines are available by the glass, beginning at $6.50.
Several diners in our group chose salads for their entrées, which were perfectly portioned. The organic tomato stack offered several layers of tomato, blue cheese, chopped bacon, and arugula drizzled with a balsamic glaze. The Kalymnos Greek salad was a generous traditional presentation of feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions and Kalamata olives. Other small salads on the menu include spinach, mixed greens, and arugula. Entrée salads include sesame duck chop salad, BBQ chicken, Maui tuna crunch, and lemongrass salmon, and are priced between $12 and $15.
For the other entrées, our table chose caramelized sea scallops and grilled boneless rainbow trout. The trout was deliciously moist and accompanied by parsley new potatoes and perfectly cooked asparagus with broiled lemon. The large scallops were grilled and served with an interesting tomato-mushroom pearl pasta as well as asparagus. The entrée menu ($15-$26) also includes all-natural chicken, pork tenderloin, lamb T-bone chops, grilled fillet, and even venison.
True to their word about realistic portion sizes, the signature Mini-Indulgences on the dessert menu offer shot-glass servings of classic goodies- enough to feel indulged, yet small enough to keep the diner comfortable after a large meal. Diners can choose from mocha macchiato, chocolate peanut butter mousse, mango cheesecake, pecan pie with vanilla mousse, Key lime pie, classic red velvet cake, or Belgian chocolate rocky road. Fresh fruit is also offered as a selection. A beautiful assortment is brought to the table, and guests can mix and match. We each chose our favorite and then shared bites around the table. Each Mini-Indulgence is $2.50.
The ambiance throughout is elegant without being stuffy, and also features patio seating. Seasons 52 offers alternative menus: lactose free, low sodium, gluten free, garlic free, vegetarian, and vegan, so be sure to speak up if you need to hear about those. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Our party arrived early on a Friday afternoon, but when we left, there was a waiting list to be seated and the bar area was packed. Reservations are accepted and, based on our experience, highly recommended for this unique addition to the Town Center.
by Deborah Hansen