xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Seasons 52's menu is a study in annual evolution

In recent years, constantly evolving menus have become the province of small, trendy eateries, while larger restaurants have stuck with consistent menus sometimes augmented by a special or two.
Seasons 52, a relative newcomer to the “big restaurant” scene, aims to change that.
The Columbia Mall spot, which opened in early August, is Seasons 52’s second Maryland location (the first is in Bethesda); the restaurant includes over 40 locations across the country. The locations share a menu — Seasons 52 doesn’t describe itself as locally driven — and the menus evolve each week, changing with the seasons.
When we arrived at Seasons 52 around 6:30 p.m. on a Thursday evening, the restaurant was only about half-full, but by 7:15 p.m. both the dining room and adjacent bar were packed with couples and groups of friends. 
The space was dark, with heavy wood furniture and accents, and a semi-open kitchen. A piano player serenaded patrons in the bar (a regular occurrence). Though the vibe initially felt conservative, as our evening wore on, laughter rose above the tinkling of the piano — Seasons 52 was more fun than it initially seemed.
As we settled in, discussing drinks with our server, we learned that the bar was out of a few of our choices, including a mixed drink and bottle of wine. We found new selections, though, and were pleased with our cocktails. The Perfect Storm was a well-balanced, autumnal combination of pear vodka and elderflower liqueur; a traditional Moscow Mule made with Prairie Organic Vodka, ginger beer and lime was spicy and fun.
With our cocktails, we devoured a plate of crab, shrimp and spinach-stuffed mushrooms. The appetizer arrived in an escargot dish, with each mushroom tucked into one circular spot. 
Though the mushrooms alone were a tad underseasoned, the seafood and spinach topping, dusted with panko and Parmesan, was creamy and full of flavor. 
Part of Seasons 52’s appeal is that each menu item is no more than 475 calories; a detailed list of nutritional information is available on the restaurant’s website. After eating our entrees, we agreed that was an impressive feat. 
A plate of scallops, served over risotto with a side of broccolini, was generous and well seasoned. Though the first scallop we tried was a bit tough, the rest (another six!) were tender and cooked nicely. 
The risotto, studded with diced butternut squash, was satisfying and slightly sweet, and the vegetables were cooked just to al dente.
Three small roasted quail were impressively juicy and well matched with mushroom risotto and spinach. On top, a drizzle of balsamic demi-glaze added just enough acidity to keep the dish from feeling too heavy.
The Seasons 52 wine list is constantly evolving, including a number of “safe” options (think California and France) as well as a few more adventurous selections. We opted for a bottle of Macedon pinot noir from Macedonia, a newly trendy wine region. The wine was smooth, drinkable and a good match for our dinners.
Dessert choices included a variety of flavors, but the format for each was similar – layered like parfaits, the desserts were each designed for one person. It was a refreshing change from the gigantic, oversized desserts found at some restaurants. 
We enjoyed the pecan pie and tiramisu-like mocha macchiato. Both sweet, with attention to texture and flavor, they were a satisfying — and pleasantly petite — way to end the meal.
Throughout the meal, our server was attentive and knowledgeable, but she was obviously running through a mental checklist of things to mention and questions to ask, which made our interactions stilted and sometimes awkward. Our usual complaint about service is that staff lacks training; at Seasons 52, the problem may be too much training. 
Still, she was kind and competent. That, combined with great flavor on our plates, made our meal a good one.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement