Seasons 52 Preview Review

My daughter, Kelly, is a Rhetorical Advocacy major (aka PR) finishing her junior year and in the thick of Purdue's practical learning experience.  So Kelly blogs and tweets like none other and one of her followers on Twitter works for an Indianapolis PR firm, Y & L PR.  She tweets Kelly and asks who her favorite Indy food blogger might be and of course Kelly replies, "My mom".  Good girl!  Long story short, I am one of twenty two guests seated around a gorgeous table for a Preview Dinner on my birthday.  My sister-in-law, Karen, arrived from Chagrin Falls just in time to join me for the festivities.

Seasons 52 now has 16 restaurants with the Indianapolis location at the Fashion Mall now officially open and taking reservations.  The Seasons 52 concept involves seasonal menu rotations, all dishes served in portions of 475 calories or less, an open kitchen with a wood-fired oven, grills (heavily employing wood chips evident the minute you walk in the door) and induction burners to limit emissions and help with their carbon footprint.  There is not a fryer in sight so one dish I really want to go back and try is their chile rellenos of charred poblanos stuffed with goat cheese and topped with Monterey Jack cheese.  Organic ingredients are used "where it makes sense" which is pretty similar to my own kitchen.

We were greeted at the door with champagne flutes to carry on our tour of the dining rooms, kitchen (where the flatbreads were just coming out of the wood-fired ovens), private/meeting rooms and the bar. The bar is gorgeous and 7 nights a week you can enjoy live piano music.  The dashing Seasons 52 Master Sommelier, George Miliotes was on hand to guide us through a wide ranging tour of wines with our meal.  One hundred bottles are offered and sixty-two wines are available by the glass.

chef's table
spices under glass down the center of the chef's table
chipotle shrimp with roasted poblanos, grilled pineapple and feta cheese flatbread
roasted lemons in the kitchen
artichoke & goat cheese with leaf spinach, balsamic onions and roasted peppers flatbread
We were seated at an impressive table for 22 and the feasting began.  Our first course was the "Amuse" course, or a little bit of something spontaneously created by the chef.  The night's amuse:   Japanese-type noodles spoon filled with Haas avocado and lump crab meat.  Yummy.  The wine:  Aveleda Vinho Verde, Portugal 2009.  A very light and crisp fruit forward wine I've actually served on my front porch in the summertime.  

our tables, that's a lot of glasses (we sampled 8 wines :) 
George, Master Sommelier
my birthday card, place card and dinner card
As with every course, Senior Culinary Director, Cliff Pleau in his chef whites gave a charming narrative of the food (including buying, prep and recipe tips) and Master Sommelier, George introduced us the wine.  The next course:  Shetland Island organic salmon and lemongrass sea scallop roasted on a cedar plank with Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Central Coast 2008.  I'm going to have to start on the amazing wine this time.  Good Lord, the loveliest Chardonnay I have ever tasted.  Produced from a Monterey vineyard (sister vineyard of Camus wines) with gorgeous layers of flavor and a buttery finish.  I did not think I enjoyed the oak barrel flavor, but this beauty made me reconsider.  Karen looked it up online.  If you need a nice $25-$30 white, try it.  Back to the food, I did not think I enjoyed salmon either, and again Seasons 52 has forced a re-evaluation.  Delicious with grilled carrots, asparagus and green pepper.  Who knew?  Well, almost everyone but me!  The secret to plank grilling is to brush the plank with olive or hazelnut oil (or any oil you favor, I would imagine) so the wood does not soak the juices out of the salmon.  The scallop skewered on lemongrass?  Also delicious.  

organic salmon and lemongrass sea scallop roasted on a cedar plank
Salad course next:  Earthbound Farm organic greens with oak-grilled mushrooms, toasted pistachios and truffle dressing.  Had I known just what this presentation involved, I would have fired my camera earlier because the salads were plated in a clear cylinder (like a candle hurricane) and the servers then twisted the cylinder and lifted it effectively mixing the salad and plating it as pictured.  Clever.  And delicious.  The truffle dressing:  truffle oil, lemon juice and soy sauce.  You will also note a little shaved Parmesan.  The wine:  Sinskey Pinot Noir, Carneros 2007.  Red wine with salad?  Worked.  Nice red with a note of butterscotch.  Robert Sinskey has been making organic wine since 1986.  Honig has also produced organic wines for 25 plus years.  Sommelier George would know.  

organic greens with oak-grilled mushrooms, toasted pistachios and truffle dressing
wine much?
Cliff Pleau, Senior Culinary Director and dinner guests
And this brings us to my favorite course (and if you have been married to me for almost 27 years you would guess this) Sonoma goat cheese ravioli with roasted garlic, basil and a light tomato broth.   Goodness in a shallow bowl.  Season's 52 employs Laura Chenel's goat cheese (they need to try Capriole goat cheese from southern Indiana, local and fabulous).  I believe the only thing tomato-y about the broth was that there were halved cherry tomatoes in it.  Possibly the home cook could use chicken or vegetable broth for similar results.  I will try to recreate this in my kitchen and share a post with you before it's too hot to cook pasta.  (It was 74 degrees yesterday and 42 degrees today so we're safe here for a while).  Wine:  Sierra Cantabria, Rioja 2006.  A beautiful smokey Spanish red.   I am not your best reviewer of red wines, but my lovely sister-in-law did find it very nice.

Sonoma goat cheese ravioli with roasted garlic, basil and light tomato broth 
Somehow I do not have an image of our final dinner course before dessert:  mesquite-grilled lamb T-bone chop and Manchester Farms quail breast, mashed sweet potatoes and bourbon-chili glaze.  The lamb chop was glazed with an unusual, but tasty black pepper, lavender and sugar glaze.  The quail breat with the bourbon chili glaze competed a bit with the sweet potatoes.   I probably could have enjoyed it more if they were not plated in a stack.  Or possibly I was just getting full!  The wines (yes, two this time showcasing two styles of red):  the new fruity and powerful (alcohol content) Markham Petite Sirah, Napa 2004 and the old world De Toren Fusion V, Stellenbosch 2007 (blend of Cab, Malbec, Petit Syrah and Merlot).  Wine Spectator and Robert Parker have both named the Fusion a World Class wine.   My red wine loving dining partner liked the Napa better.  

mini indulgences celebration tower with birthday candle lit atop
Of course you must have dessert.  We were all instructed to go through a Facebook survey to determine which Mini Indulgence dessert we "were".  One of those quizzes where you totally know how it will turn out so you throw a few answers so you don't end up as "Fruit Cup" (not a valid dessert choice away from home).  So I was "Carrot Cake" but really wanted Meyer Lemon Pound Cake so since it was my birthday that's exactly where I started.  Love Meyer Lemons.  Loved this dessert.  I did mention to my hosts that I'm really the kind of girl that if she is having dessert (and I do on at least an every other day basis) she wants the whole piece of pie or cake.  They reminded me that their Indulgences stay within their caloric cap and besides you can always have two.  Great idea.  I tried the Mango Cheesecake and found it pretty ordinary.  Bummer.  I could have gone back in for Tiramisu, Peanut Butter Chocolate, or even the Carrot Cake.  That would have just been greedy.  I do believe they always bring you the entire flight, so try whatever moves you.  

Well, that took me just shy of a month to post and I apologize for the delay.  When I know a lot of writing is required I really need to be in "the mood".  And I need to have the time.  Big chunks of productive time have eluded me recently.   Chunks of unproductive time have been more abundant.  Just a little out of the flow, but working my way back into it.  Now if only my camera would join me.  


  1. Sounds delish! I'll be looking to you for restaurant recommendations next time I come to Indy!


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