A few of my labmates have been feeling adventurous in their new city and started a dinner club of sorts by choosing a new restaurant to visit every week. For my first outing with the group, I joined in for a visit to Seasons 52 in Buckhead. What sets Seasons 52 apart is not only its seasonally (and even weekly, for some items) rotating menu, but the fact that everything on the menu is under 475 calories. No, that is not a typo. If nothing else, a visit to Seasons 52 is a good opportunity to see that low-cal food can actually have flavor, and to find out what an actual portion size should look like. We were happy to find that our dishes were not just an experiment in bland diet food, but were actually pretty good.
We started out with one of their famous flatbreads (Grilled steak and cremini mushroom with fresh spinach and Wisconsin blue cheese) and edamame with green tea salt (no picture) to share:
When the flatbread arrived, I was expecting more of an actual bread consistency to the base of the flatBREAD. What we got, however, was more “cracker” than “bread.” After tasting my first piece, I found that I didn’t too much care about the texture of the flatbread because the toppings were so delicious. I know they look fairly ho-hum in the picture, but everything worked really well together and was quite flavorful. The slices I had were much more satisfying than I expected.
For entrees, there was some variety around the table: I had the crab-stuffed shrimp (with a medley of fresh vegetables in a light garlic sauce), one labmate had grilled caramelized sea scallops (with roasted asparagus and sundried tomato pearl pasta), 2 ordered grilled trout (with roasted new potatoes, asparagus, baby carrots and broiled lemon), one tried the roasted pork tenderloin (served over soft corn polenta, fresh leaf spinach, cremini mushrooms and sherry glaze), and one had a spicy pork flatbread, the weekly special:
The only photos I have of the spicy pork flatbread are blurry (not my handiwork), but suffice it to say it looked similar to the other flatbread from above, and the orderer enjoyed it as much as I did my bites of the appetizer.. My stuffed shrimp were pretty good and comparable to those I’ve had at other restaurants (though those are typically fried and not roasted–big calorie savings right there!). The veggies were delicious, and the plate also contained a lot more shrimp than I was expecting for 475 calories. My labmate with the sea scallops wasn’t too impressed with his meal. He thought the scallops could have used more seasoning because they just tasted like…scallops. This probably would have been fine for my personal tastes, because I love scallops with just a sprinkle of S&P.
The two who ordered the trout both loved their meals (I know because the fish quickly evaporated) and were especially pleased with the rosemary seasoning. We all commented that we hadn’t ever really seen rosemary paired with fish, as it’s typically a poultry seasoning, but they really enjoyed it. Finally, the pork tenderloin was apparently good enough to quickly disappear from the plate as well. The guy who ordered it complained that he definitely felt the lack of calories and was still hungry after his meal. To be fair though, he was quite a bit more muscle-y than anyone else at the table–and not a a lab nerd, if you couldn’t figure that out
Usually, I can fairly easily pass up dessert at restaurants. Charging $8 for a slice of cheesecake is how they make most of their money after all. But when our waiter came by with a tray of Seasons 52′s “mini indulgences,” everyone’s eyes widened and we decided we couldn’t resist. This is why:
Seasons 52 is credited with inventing the “dessert shooter” that you now see copied at casual dining restaurants like Applebees and Ruby Tuesday. I had the pecan pie shooter and it was sooo yummy. Not too sweet, and I discovered that a shooter of dessert is just enough to top off a meal. As opposed to say…a brownie the size of 4 normal brownies topped with ice cream and drizzled in a sugary sauce. I don’t remember what desserts everyone else chose, but I know that we were all impressed with the mini indulgences.
Seasons 52 is a chain restaurant slowly working its way across the country. There are two locations in Atlanta: the Buckhead location I visited, and one near Perimeter Mall. Our service was excellent, and our waiter even took the time to suggest some wine pairings and tastings for the people at the table who weren’t quite sure what they wanted. I liked that it showed me that I can eat well–and still have the food be good.