Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Seasons 52 in McLean, VA

Here's a dirty little secret about me: I try to avoid chain restaurants at all costs. I know, I know. It's quite pretentious of me, but frankly from my past experiences, I just think that chain restaurants are over-priced and underwhelming.

What so intrigued me about Seasons 52 was their weekly rotating chef's special menu and commitment to keeping all of their offered dishes under 475 calories. And it's not just lettuce and dry meats either; the menu offers decadent items like risotto, pasta, and steaks. Too good to be true? I had to find out for myself.

Artichoke & laura chenel goat cheese // leaf spinach + balsamic onions + roasted red peppers // 9.95 

Although Seasons 52 has a respectable list of appetizers, their signature is their flatbreads. It's somewhat of a cross between a thin-crust pizza and a cracker. The flatbread base is toasted to a perfect crisp, but is able to maintain its structural integrity under all the toppings. While I do prefer a heartier, chewier crust, the toppings provided a solid round of flavors, from the mellow artichokes, tangy goat cheese, smoky peppers, and sweet onions; it was a promising start to the meal.

Caramelized grilled sea scallops // butternut squash and leek risotto + broccolini + lemon butter // 22.95

The scallops were beautifully charred and maintained their tenderness while giving a slight bounce that is so characteristic of well cooked seafood. Unfortunately, the risotto fell short of expectations. Risotto is something that needs to be made to order and served immediately because it goes from creamy, kiss-from-heaven to a fumpy, congealed mess in about 2.578 seconds. While the flavor was mellow, velvety smooth, and incredibly rich, the texture was completely off: my butternut squash was far too undercooked while the rice was a bit too cold and clumped together. I think risotto is just one of the dishes that just can't survive that chain restaurant life.

New Zealand venison chop & venison ragout // broccolini + roasted peppers + sweet potato mash // 26.95 

BF decided to get the venison just to be able say that he has tried it before. I only got a taste and was surprised to find it quite tender and not at all gamey, which is very different from my previous experiences with venison. One thing I realized in retrospect is that Seasons 52 seems to use a lot of the same ingredients in different dishes: broccolini being a side in both of our orders and the roasted peppers with both the venison and as a topping on the flat bread. I'm not too sure how I feel about that yet: either a bit irritated considering the price or somewhat amused at the efficiency.

Belgian chocolate s'more // chocolate cake + chocolate mousse + chocolate chips + toasted marshmallow + chocolate dipped graham cracker // 2.5 

At the end of the meal, our serve brought out a dessert flight of 10 different dessert shooters and encouraged us to pick whichever and as many different ones as we liked. Desserts here are the definition of portion control, which is understandable for keeping everything under 475 calories. While it was small, the chocolate s'more was so incredibly decadent. Rich, sticky, sweet, and creamy. It's every bit as dense and "sinful" as any good chocolate dessert ought to be while being in a cute little package.

My experience at Seasons 52 was a pleasant one, but I still couldn't help but feel underwhelmed. None of the dishes particularly "wowed" me, and to be honest, everything tasted a bit too similar to warrant such a price tag. Maybe it's just because the flavors were a bit toned down to accommodate a wider variety of pallets or maybe the seasoning was a bit off, but I was left feeling full but not completely satisfied. Nonetheless, for a chain restaurant Seasons 52 is a solid choice.

Seasons 52
Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon
7863L Tysons Corner Center
McLean, VA 22102