A few weeks ago we were invited to a blogger dinner at Seasons 52 at the Headquarters in downtown. Ever since we attended a media dinner for the first Seasons 52 in San Diego at UTC, we’ve been paying them visits every once in a while. It’s safe to say we enjoy the food and keep coming back for more! Executive Chef Partner Steve de Barril was on hand once again to talk about the menu and walk us through some of the new things they are preparing.
The downtown location is nice and spacious with an open kitchen to catch some of the action. I didn’t manage to snap pictures of a few cocktails I sampled, probably because I don’t drink very often and my spotlight tends to focus on food. But the two cocktails I tried I really enjoyed. We started off with the Pumpkin Pisco Sour (Crop Organic Pumpkin Vodka, Pisco, aromatic bitters). Immediately it reminded me of a Chinese dried preserved plum which I used to eat a lot of. Feeling warm and comfortable with the first one encouraged me to try the Pearfect Storm (Absolut Pears, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh bosc pears & thyme). Wow, as much as I enjoyed the first cocktail, the Pearfect Storm really floored me. It was kind of like 1/3 pear jolly rancher(if they had that flavor) and 2/3 pear juice. But really that doesn’t do it justice. It was shocking how strong the pear flavor was and how refreshing it was. The non-drinker here approves.
We were served drinks and a couple flat breads outside, including a Trio of Roasted Mushrooms flat bread (garlic confit, spinach, green onions, goat cheese, truffle oil) and a Lobster and Fresh Mozzarella flat bread (roasted sweet peppers, silvered scallion, lobster sour cream). As much as I love mushrooms if I had to choose a favorite it would be the lobster flat bread. The lobster just popped a little more and the flavors were more vibrant on the tongue. Both of these are specials on the menu they change regularly. Thinking back, I don’t think I’ve had a flat bread at Seasons 52 I didn’t like.
They sent us out a sample of their Kabocha Squash Ravioli (brown butter, walnuts, crispy sage). Michael and I aren’t huge fans of squash but when it’s prepared like this it turns into our favorite thing ever. It’s times like these where love of food pays off. I can’t thank my parents enough for cooking me all sorts of food when I was a kid and not pigeon holing me into one type of cuisine. The ravioli had a perfect chew and slight crispiness on the outside. Looking at it now I can smell the dish right through the screen. Excellent way to begin our meal.
Our waiter suggested a few things for us to start and the first one was the Blistered Shishito Peppers (roasted corn, Sonoma goat-feta cheese, lemon aioli, sumac). We were told about 1 out of 10 were of the spicy variety while the other 9 were not spicy at all. I think I ate more than I wanted to because I wanted to find that 1 out of 10. I like to live dangerously with spicy Russian roulette. After eight shishito peppers I called it quits. They weren’t our favorite things to eat for the night, partly because there wasn’t enough toppings to go around for each pepper. The ones on the bottom lacked flavor. But it was fun biting into the unknown.
We had our eyes set on the Lump Crab, Roasted Shrimp & Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms (under Parmesan-panko crust) from the start. The plate reminded me of an escargot plate I’ve seen on cruises. It’s hard to tell from the picture but there are six or so hollowed out areas where the mushroom perfectly fits.
Here’s one mushroom with all the good stuff. The flavors and burst of juices I got when I bit in put me in pause mode for about five seconds as I relished the moment. That’s a winning appetizer boys and girls.
We enjoyed the Oak Grilled Artichokes (remoulade sauce). I love the hearts, but usually feel it is too much work to eat the leaves. Fingers did get messy and I was happy when I got to the hearts.
This is the point in the meal where my DSLR decided to call it a night. The shutter got stuck somehow and the gears wouldn’t turn. (I’m still taking the camera apart one small screw at a time! You are welcome Amazon for all the tools I’ve purchased over the last week.) Anyways, in case you noticed the change I wanted to mention it.
We were tempted to get the salad we loved the first time at the UTC location, but we ended up trying something different. We liked the Spinach & Caramelized Bosc Pear Salad (toasted walnuts, gorgonzola, sherry-walnut vinaigrette). Maybe not as much as the other salad, but this was no pushover. The pear really complimented the other components in the salad and there was just the right amount of cheese for me.
Always up for more mushrooms in our bellies, the Porcini Mushroom Bisque (sour cream, black trumpet mushrooms) gave us the mushroom blitz we were hoping for. They get a nice smooth consistency by thickening it with rice. It was earthy and each little snappy chew of the chopped mushrooms made me wonder how anyone could live without them. Mushrooms forever.
I’ve been on an olive roll lately choosing dishes with a strong olive base. Michael isn’t as much of an olive guy as me so I was hoping it didn’t completely take over the dish. The Oak-Grilled Georges Bank Swordfish (roasted tomato-caper broth, kalamata olives, citrus-braised fennel) is another special they are currently running. And yes, there is swordfish underneath that pile, I swear. Although there was a strong tomato flavor, the olives did steal the show causing Michael to not love the dish. I on the other hand, much like mushrooms, can’t get enough of them. So basically he took one for the team! I liked the sauce so much I prolonged its life by adding rice to it when I had leftovers the next day…and maybe that night again.
Because their menu has an extensive selection we had a hard time narrowing down what we wanted. Luckily we were encouraged throughout the night to try this and that. It didn’t take much convincing when it came to the Maine Lobster Tail. Parts of it was a little overdone and it came out rubbery. But the other part came out crisp and juicy.
Michael went with the Oak Grilled Rack of Lamb (caramelized root vegetables, Yukon mash, pomegranate sauce). I think we sort of split on our main courses. He tended to favor his lamb more than I did. Although we did both agree it could have used a tad bit more seasoning.
Both of us were eyeing the Caramelized Sea Scallops from the start. We remember really liking them here in the past. Scallops are like bites of joy from the sea. These plump and juicy scallops put a smile on my face.
Because it’s too hard to choose one, we sampled all of them. I would get too hungry and it would take too long to describe each one of their mini indulgence desserts. Our favorites were the Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte, Key Lime, and Mocha Macchiato. They all got an appreciative nod by us but these three stood out as ones we definitely would order again.
Dining at Seasons 52 always leaves me with a certain sense of satisfaction only felt with a complete dining experience. That’s probably why I keep coming back. The flat breads are always tasty and light, you can always find plenty of options for even the most discerning tongue, and the dessert shooters never disappoint. One somewhat big shift in philosophy lies in them ditching the “everything under 475 calories” mantra. Every single item on the menu used to be under 475 calories. Chef Barril mentioned that it somewhat limited them and now they can serve tastier things their customers want, like a New York strip steak. Each item is clearly marked with the calorie count on the menu and most of them are still under 475 calories. If you haven’t been to Seasons 52 I would encourage you to go. I’ve taken my family here because it is big and easy to accommodate everyone. Both locations are participating in Restaurant Week so now is a good time to pay them a visit. And although they aren’t serving a five course Restaurant Week dinner this time, you do get two mini indulgence desserts!
789 West Harbor Drive, Ste 134
San Diego, CA 92101