Monday, September 27, 2010

Seasons 52 - Tampa

Yes, Seasons 52 is a chain restaurant. But it's one I like a lot!

I tried it first when I was in Orlando on business, several years ago, at the suggestion of a good friend. Good job, good friend! I loved it.
So, when I found myself in Tampa this evening, I thought I'd try the Tampa version. Seasons 52 is a restaurant that prides itself on serving fresh, locally grown or raised fruits/veggies/critters in a delicious manner that consists of less than 475 calories per entree. They also change their menu seasonally and look for fresh ways to serve old favorites. Tonight marked the end of their first full week of their new Autumn menu.

I came in with scallops on my mind, but seared Snapper was one of tonight's specials. What was I supposed to do? Well of course I had to order a glass of wine to help the decision-making process. I began with a Chilean wine, the Viognier from Casillero del Diablo, Casablanca '08. "Excellent choice", intoned my darling Ryan.

Let's look at that menu one more time: carmelized sea scallops with roasted asparagus and sundried tomoato pearl pasta or grilled Red Snapper over Asian veggies with steamed rice and ponzu glaze.... Both good, both guaranteed to make your mouth water, and both less than 475 calories.

All I could do was ask my new favorite waiter, Patric, what he would recommend. He quickly affirmed scallops was the way to go tonight. "All plates have been clean plates this week", he said, (meaning, I guess, that the patrons who ordered the scallops REALLY loved them.).

So as I sipped my Viognier, and contemplated the apricot and pear intonations, the chef worked on my spinach salad and scallops.
Patrick quickly returned with my Organic Baby Spinach Salad. It was very good - a nice combination of tasty greens, a bite of vinegar cut by the creamy goodness of the goat cheese. The pine nuts introduced an earthiness to the salad and the crunchy red cabbage combined with the sweet pear slices to round the whole taste treat out. Nice addition to their Autumn menu. Only negative - it did not pair well with the viognier. The viognier lost out, lost flavor when paired with this salad. Somehow, I managed to continue on to the main course.
Carmelized sea scallops, succulently sharing space with crispy grilled asparagus and pearl pasta. Sea scallops can have an earthy sweetness to them, and the carmelization process followed by what I presumed was a quick grilling experience brought out a real, sweet flavor. With this meal, you get 6 big scallops and 10 spears of asparagus. The picture above shows slightly soggy asparagus, but mine was grilled to perfection tonight. The pasta was lovely - pearl pasta served with dried tomatoes and fresh basil was a real taste treat. And there was only about 3 tablespoons of it on the plate - so it was just enough.

If you remember, I said the Viognier did NOT pair well with the salad. Well, 20 minutes later the wine had warmed up a little and tasted FANTASTIC with the scallops. My quick conclusion - they served the wine just a little on the chilly side. The rich fruity taste really came out as it warmed up.

So - I'd give the Seasons 52 in Tampa a solid A-. Food was excellent, good suggestion on Patric's part, good wine, beautiful dining room though a little loud. Free valet parking. Good place for the expense report crowd, romantic dinner, fun group of friends. Big negative for me (which is why I give it an A-) All in all, SEVEN employees spoke to me, asked me about my meal, encouraged me to enjoy it, and asked me again how I liked it. That's a little much for a single person eating alone. By the end of the meal, I was waiting for Eddie Haskell to pop out and tell me how nice my pearls looked.....

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a delicious meal. I love scallops, especially those you get back in the UK, in Whitby.