Shortly after Seasons 52 opened in Schaumburg back in 2010, Diana and I just happened to stumble upon the grill and wine bar after an epic day of shoe shopping (I'm pretty sure we were five shoe stores in by the time we both cried for sustenance). Desperate for a place to rest our weary feet, fill our empty stomachs, and knock back a cocktail (or four) while admiring our fab new shoe finds, we drove past the sprawling mall complex and found ourselves at the entrance of the brand spanking new Seasons 52. From our very first round of appetizers (one of their delicious flatbreads paired with an order of green tea edamame), we were hooked. The restaurant quickly became our suburban go-to and as soon as other locations began to pop up in the Chicago-area, we made it our business to wine and dine our way through them all.
While the restaurant chain has transitioned away from part of their original concept (all menu items had a strict 475 calorie limit), the chefs at Seasons maintain their focus on offering healthy, seasonal dishes using rustic cooking techniques such as brick-oven roasting and open-fire grilling over oak and mesquite. Although there are new menu items that are definitely on the more indulgent end of the spectrum (e.g. the oh-so-delicious lobster pappardelle), the bulk of the offerings are still on the lighter side.
Being Seasons 52 superfans, Diana and I were recently invited to stop by the downtown Chicago location to sample some of the new items gracing their winter menu. We kicked off our lunch with a round of cocktails; Diana chose the perfectly balanced Bourbon Berry Bramble, made with Maker's Mark Bourbon, St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, fresh raspberries, blackberries & lime...
...while I picked the crisp and refreshing Meyer Lemonade, made with Crop Organic Meyer Lemon Vodka, Meyer lemon, pineapple juice, and a bit of agave for sweetness.
Blistered Shishito Peppers with roasted corn, Sonoma goat-feta cheese, lemon aioli, and sumac. I'm a huge fan of shishito peppers (despite them being a bit of a pepper Russian roulette, as 1 in 10 are of the super spicy variety) and I loved the combination of the slight heat and sweet, creamy goat-feta cheese.
Pepperoni Flatbread with roasted Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil pesto. This is one of Season's newest flatbreads (they always have 4-5 rotating options from which to choose) and while I've always been partial to their lobster flatbread, I have to say that after devouring this tasty offering, the lobster is definitely in danger of being usurped from its top spot!
Cedar-Plank Roasted Salmon with roasted vegetables & crushed potatoes, dill-mustard sauce, and grilled lemon. For her entrée, Diana chose this generous hunk of salmon served with one of the most delicious sauces either of us have ever had at Seasons. For those of you looking to pick from the lighter side of the menu, this entire dish is only 470 calories.
Asian-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass with black rice, sliced shiitake mushrooms, and snap peas. For my entrée, I opted for this Chilean sea bass off of the Chef's Suggestion portion of the menu. I am a creature of habit and I typically rotate between the same two entrée options - I'm so glad I decided to change it up because this dish was truly *fantastic*! This sea bass is a perfect example of the type of food Seasons has always been known for: simple preparation, generous portions, big flavors, and low on calories.
Caramelized Grilled Sea Scallops. We both love their scallops, so of course, we had to order a small skewer to split as a side dish. As the sea scallops are my top entrée choice, it makes me happy that that they now offer them as a side.
Mini Indulgence Shooters. You cannot dine at Seasons 52 and not end your meal with one (or three!) of their adorable and delicious mini desserts!
At the end of the meal, your server will bring out a tray full of shooters from which to choose; in addition to the longtime staples, there's also typically 2-4 seasonal options (personally, I think the fall/winter offerings are the best). Diana and I each chose our favorites (I love the Pecan Pie with vanilla bean mousse, whipped cream, and honey-glazed pecan) and then we split a few of the seasonal options, including the Chocolate Ganache Brownie with rich Ghiradelli chocolate, red raspberry compote, and whipped cream.
You can try all of this deliciousness and more at one of their three Chicago-area locations, including Chicago - Downtown: 55 East Grand Ave., Chicago, IL..
Disclosure: I received a complimentary meal to facilitate this post. Review and all opinions are my own.