Seasons 52 – UTC, San Diego – Exclusive Sneak Peak

Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave, you’re probably aware the the UTC (University Towne Center) Mall has been undergoing some major renovations lately.  I’m glad to see it.  It has needed a face lift for quite sometime (for the longest time it hadn’t changed much since I was a student at UCSD).  Westfield has been doing an overhaul on the dining court, adding in a new ArcLight cinema, and putting in a new 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport Club.  Furthermore, they are continuing to add some new and interesting restaurants to the mix to entice San Diegan palates.  The newest and most polished restaurant addition is Seasons 52.  It’s located on the North side of the mall next to the Sears.  They open officially this coming Monday, Nov. 19th 2012.  Make your reservations now!

Darren and I were very fortunate to be invited to the preview event this week.  (Thank you Marguarite, Syndie, and Kristi).  Our dining experience was absolutely incredible.  I honestly haven’t had a meal this completely satisfying in San Diego in a very long time.

This post will be unique in that Darren will be commenting side by side with me, so you can have both of our perspectives at the same time.  Darren’s comments will be italicized and in green.

First of all, I don’t want you think I’m being overly dramatic here, but based on my experience this week… Seasons 52 has it ALL.  Excellent ambiance.  Excellent service.  Excellent cuisine.  And, excellent drinks.  This is truly farm fresh at it’s best.  Seasons 52 is all about bringing together the best flavors from seasonally fresh ingredients and magnifying their natural flavors with innovation.  Somehow they are able to make every menu item under 475 calories… amazing!

The kitchen is headed up by Executive Chef Partner, Steve de Barril.  He provided us with a great overview of their Farm Fresh approach to cuisine and gave us a tour of his well laid out kitchen.

One of the coolest elements in their kitchen is their mesquite-wood burning grill.  They don’t even have a gas line!

This the the chef’s dining table located right next to the kitchen.  (Who wants to meet up here with me?)

There were plenty of large dining tables to accommodate large groups.

The restaurant is quite large in size.  It is well designed with warm-colored woods, vibrant colors, and soft lighting.  They have a fully decked out wine bar complete with a singing pianist that will take your requests!  This is where we started out the night with some champagne and light appetizers.

Spicy Chipotle Shrimp with grilled pineapple, feta cheese, roasted poblano peppers – pairing: Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Sainte Anne, Champagne MV

Artichoke and Goat Cheese with leaf spinach, balsamic onions, and roasted peppers

The evening festivities were kicked into gear with our host, George Miliotes, Master Sommelier and Director of Beverage & Hospitality.  He whet our appetites with an illustrious explanation our upcoming dining experience and wine pairings for the evening.

There were roughly a dozen of us seated around what I can only describe as a Top Chef table.  Clifford Pleau, Senior Culinary Director, took us through the evening’s cuisine.   During each course he explained the dish’s subtle nuances and his inspired thoughts of how flavors are married and accentuated.  Likewise, George took us on a journey through each wine pairing before each course was revealed.

Dungeness Crab and Haas Avocado – Pairing: Aveleda Vinho Verde, Portugal 2011

Simple and sweet.  A perfect start to the evening.

Darren’s Thoughts:  The crab certainly was the highlight of the amuse bouche and shined with the avocado serving as the complimentary sidekick.

Organic Salmon, Lemongrass Sea Scallop, & Farmers Market Vegetables – Pairing: Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Central Coast 2010

Checkout the inside of the salmon.  It was cooked to perfection and oh so tender.  The scallop was delicious as well.

Darren’s Thoughts: I don’t even like salmon and I managed to enjoy each bite of this cedar plank variation.  Super flakey and exhibited a distinct earthiness to it.  Even Chef Clifford was reveling in his craft after sampling the dish in the kitchen.

Organic Field Greens, Grilled Portobello Mushrooms, Toasted Pistachios, Parmesan, and Aromatic Truffle Dressing – Pairing: Sinskey Pinot Noir, Carneros 2009.

This was one of my favorite dishes.  The flavor and balance of this salad was incredible.  You have to try this!  The Sinskey Pinot matched the aromatics of the dressing perfectly.

Darren’s Thoughts: What you can’t see is the presentation beforehand.  The salads all came out in vase-like cylinders and the servers lifted them in unison in a circular motion.  It was like watching a synchronized magic show.  See the seventh picture below in our gallery to see the cylinders.  The salad was amazing.  I don’t tend to focus on salads very often, but this one is definitely worth it!

Sonoma Goat Cheese Raviolo, Roasted Garlic, Basil, Organic Tomato Broth – Pairing: Retromarcia, Chianti Classic 2009

This was a very light, but flavorful dish.  The goat cheese wasn’t too overpowering, which I found impressive.  The paired Chianti blended incredibly well.

Darren’s Thoughts: Moist, smooth, and simple.  Keeping it simple works.

Mesquite-Grilled Piedmontese Strip Steak

This was served with the quail below, but each of these proteins stood well on their own.  The strip steak was cooked perfectly.  The flavor was divine with the infusion of mesquite-wood flavors.

Darren’s Thoughts: Chef Cliffornd mentioned Piedmontese meat is much lower in calories than your typical other cuts of meat, which makes it easier to achieve their 475 calorie per dish goal.  The steak certainly does not lack in flavor and was tender as they come.

Manchester Farms All-Natural Quail, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Bourbon-Chili Glaze – Pairing: Alto Moncayo Garnacha, Campo de Borja 2009  & De Toren Z, Stellenbosch 2009

The quail was tender and tasty.

Darren’s Thoughts: The meat slid right off the bone and was soft and tender- melting in your mouth.  The brussel sprouts were cooked just right.

Mini Indulgences – Pairing: Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2010

So a little interesting back story to these.  Chef Cliff was the original innovator of the mini indulgences.  The presentation is so enticing and each is still under 475 calories.  Wow!

The Mosel was a perfect end to a wonderful flight of wines and perfectly executed dinner service.

Meyer-Lemon Cake

Darren’s Thoughts: Light, fluffy, tart, and oh so lemony.  

Caramel Macchiato

Tastes just like a Starbucks caramel macchiato!

Chocolate Peanut Butter

Darren’s Thoughts: Incredible dessert shooter!  I was worried it would be too sweet, but they’ve honed their craft and the peanut butter and chocolate were married perfectly, just as they should.

A big thank you to George and Cliff for an experience to remember.  These guys are true masters of their trade and their passion shows through clearly at Seasons 52.  If you couldn’t tell already, I’m pretty darn excited about this place.  Furthermore, when looking at their menu, I am surprised to see just how reasonable their prices are.  So, if you’re looking for a sophisticated (not stuffy) night of dining, good drinks, and impeccable service, I’d wholeheartedly recommend Seasons 52.  I will be back myself for sure… sooner than later.

Seasons 52 Dinner Menu

Seasons 52 Lunch Menu

Seasons 52 Bar Menu

Seasons 52
4505 La Jolla Village Drive Suite C-1
San Diego, CA 92122
(858) 450-1252
David Holter, Managing Partner, Seasons 52 UTC
Steve de Barril, Executive Chef Partner, Seasons 52 UTC


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About Michael

I couldn't be luckier to call San Diego my home the past couple decades. America's "Finest City" is bursting with delicious eats in nearly every corner. Whether you want savory or sweet, fancy or rustic, you can have it all! I have the awesome job of uncovering some of these gems, and sharing them with you. When I'm not chowing down, I also write about $$$ at Thanks for stopping by!

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4 Comments on “Seasons 52 – UTC, San Diego – Exclusive Sneak Peak”

  1. I got the invite for this but couldn’t make it. I’m so sad I missed it after seeing this recap! I’ve been looking forward to Seasons 52 though, so I’m glad you both liked it. I need to visit soon to try it out for myself.

  2. I generally don’t like chains, but I’ve been excited about Seasons 52 on account of the healthier dining concept.

    I wonder if they provide nutritional information for their Chef’s table as well.

    You mentioned farm to table, did the Chef mention sourcing locally?

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