Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Season's 52, Chestnut Hill

The Chestnut Hill area, located just outside the city limits, has just received a major upgrade.  A brand new shopping and dining development has moved onto Rt. 9, and this group has something for everything.  Known as Chestnut Hill Square, this new area now houses everything from a brand new Wegman's (opening in the spring), to an Equinox gym, to numerous clothing stores, and several dining options.  I had the opportunity to check out one of these new spots last week, and enjoyed a dinner at Season's 52.

Season's 52 is a national chain which has just opened its first two New England locations, the first in Burlington, MA and the second is it's location in Chestnut Hill.  Season's 52 is founded on the idea of presenting a new menu every week of the year, and incorporating fresh local products wherever possible to keep their menu seasonal, and true to the areas they inhabit.  Another key point to differentiate Season's 52 is that all of their menu items clock in at 475 calories or under, making this a very nice choice for an evening out.

I'll be honest- I had my doubts when I walked into the restaurant that evening.  I've never been a big fan of chain restaurants as I've found that they normally present pretty standard menus without much creativity.  However, as soon as I walked through the doors and my tour began I could tell that this was not your average multi location restaurant.  

The space is broken up into distinct sections- the bar area where a pianist serenades the guests seven days a week, the main dining area, a few private
dining spaces, and an area towards the back which serves as a multifunction room, with space for corporate gatherings, intimate receptions or larger parties. The kitchen is open, and every dish can be seen being made from start to finish.  The entire space is open and airy, large enough to accommodate those big Saturday nights, but still providing a certain intimacy needed for a nice evening out.

We began our meal with a sampling of their flat breads- their Blackened Steak and Blue Cheese as well as their Lobster and Fresh Mozzarella.  A thin, crisp crust served as the basis for both, a great surface to display robust ingredients.  The steak and cheese was chock full of tender skirt steak, cremini mushrooms, fresh spinach and caramelized onions, all before receiving a shower of tangy blue cheese.  The lobster had huge chunks of fresh lobster meat enhanced with roasted peppers, scallions and then a drizzle of a lobster enhanced sour cream.  Both flat breads were full of flavor, and had a great mix of decadent ingredients and fresh produce to keep things evenly healthy.

We were then served an Amuse of lump crab and Hass avocado.  This was a
wonderful single bite of fresh flavor with a little acid from a bit of pico de gallo which blended perfectly with the creamy avocado and the clean taste of the crab.  One bite of classic flavors and our palettes were awakened.

Our first course was then placed in front of us organic salmon that had been roasted on a cedar plank, served with a scallop speared with lemon grass, and served with roasted winter vegetables.  The salmon was cooked to perfection and had been roasted with a selection
of fragrant herbs which imparted their delicate flavors into the salmon as well resulting in a deeply flavorful dish.  The paired vegetables were a wonderful hearty addition with carrots and beets creating a natural sweetness to offset the delicate woody flavors from the seafood.

Our salad course was presented next, featuring a baby spinach salad, enhanced with Gorgonzola cheese, walnuts and caramelized Bosc pears.  The stand out piece of this salad, which was overall incredibly clean and fresh with a classic combination of flavors, were the pears.  Chef explained that the "caramelizing" happened simply, by just roasting them, unadorned, in the oven until their natural sugars warmed and caramelized naturally.  These were delicious- warm and sweet, but without anything heavy making them guilt inducing, they provided all of the comfort of a decadent salad.

We then turned our attention to our pasta course.  Sonoma Goat Cheese Raviolis
were set among harvest vegetables, black mushrooms and a roasted onion jus.  The raviolis were tender and full tangy goat cheese.  I loved the contrast of the cheese with the shredded vegetables that both added crunch and texture to the dish, as well as a sweetness that balanced the tang of the cheese.  The onion jus added both a velvety decadence as well as a hint of acid to brighten the other deep flavors.  Others at the table declared this dish their favorite and I could definitely see their point- it had every component for keeping it interesting and delicious.

Our final savory course didn't hold any punches, bringing surf and turf to a whole new level.  Here we had an oak grilled lobster tail with a New Zealand venison chop.  These were paired with roasted brussel sprouts, truffle mashed potatoes and a red wine demi glace.  Can we talk just for a moment about Lobster....and Venison?  This is a delightful pairing.  The lobster simply grilled with clean natural flavor, and the venison with a bold meaty flavor, offset nicely with the demi glace.  It was a gorgeous pairing of flavors.  Also, it must be said- those were some deliciously roasted brussel sprouts.

Finally we ended with Season's 52 signature selection of Mini Indulgence
Desserts.  Every table receives a selection of these to pick from, and I would urge you to try several.  Current fall selections include Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse, Key Lime Pie, Mocha Macchiato, Pecan Pie with Vanilla Mousse, Pumpkin Pie with Ginger Snap Crust, Belgian Chocolate Rocky Road, Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cannoli and Market Fresh Fruit.I indulged in two
of these (to my defense they are small) and chose the Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cannoli, which combined creamy ricotta cheese with a raspberry sauce, and chocolate chips, and then out of the top sat a mini cannoli shell.  My second pick was the Pecan Pie with Vanilla Mousse which presented layers of sticky, gooey pecan pie filling with vanilla bean mousse.  Both desserts presented a wonderful combination of textures and were just decadent to make you feel as though you had indulged, just on a small scale.  

One of the true jewels in the crown of Seasons 52 is their Sommelier.  George Milliotes is one of the few Master Sommeliers in the US and he is using his extreme knowledge to pack an incredible amount of wine into the offering.  With over 60 wines offered by the glass, there is something for everyone at every price point.  George expertly paired each of our courses and I wanted to point out the most notable.  The Aveleda Vinho Verde (2012) from Portugal was paired with our Amuse and its slight effervescence and light body was the perfect accompaniment to create a ready palate for the intricate meal ahead.  The Mer Soleil Chardonnay (2011) from the Central Coast was a perfect compliment to our Salmon entree offering an incredibly smooth mix of cream and oak without being overpowering in either.  Each sip was interesting and kept me reaching for my glass to discover the different layers of the wine.  Finally, for fun, George poured us Alto Moncayo Garnacha (2010) from Aragon.  This was an incredible wine.  If you put stock in these things, it is a 100 pt wine and with its dark red fruit flavors mingled with chocolate and perhaps just a hint of smoke that fades into a clean finish, this was a perfect wine.  I'm a little obsessed.

Season's 52 far surpassed my expectations.  Every dish was crafted artfully with care, and utilizing practices to infuse copious amounts of flavor without burdening the dishes with butter and cream.  We indulged in an incredible multi course meal, but leaving the restaurant I felt content, not weighed down as so often happens with these types of dinners.  I will confidently suggest Season's 52 as a wonderful place to dine, and to try some amazing wines...


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ummmmmm any reason why you're not saying this was comped/press dinner? i am sure that it was as it is heavily alluded to in the 'article' but you don't say so. kinda cagey, no?

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