Seasons 52: An anti-fat diet cult or a restaurant?
I love Seasons 52. The food tastes great and the high-end, attractive, warm and inviting atmosphere is really relaxing. That is about the end of my praise.
My girlfriend and I went to Seasons 52 in Tampa last night. We ate at the bar. The restaurant is proud of its pledge that no item on its menu is over 500 calories or so (I've forgotten the exact number) and many are even less. However, I don't care about their low-calorie approach to cooking. I go there because the food tastes good--actually excellent.
The servers seem very accommodating. That is why I was surprised when I ordered the grilled rainbow trout fillet and requested tartar sauce, which it did not come automatically with the dish, that the bartender looked at me in disbelief--and I mean "disbelief." You would have thought I had asked for chicken feet. Apparently, this is a major sin for those who follow the low-fat, low-cal religion. I'm sorry guys. I don't subscribe.
When the bartender came back from the kitchen with the news that, as she had predicted, the restaurant does not carry this mundane item, I asked about seafood sauce, which the bartender was not familiar with. After I explained that, in its most basic form, it is ketchup and horseradish mixed together, she couldn't come up with this item, either. Then I asked if she could just bring me some plain mayonnaise. No go. Supposedly, their kitchen does not stock mayonnaise, either.
She suggested some other kind of sauce and I agreed. She came back from the kitchen with a thimble-full of chipoltle mayonnaise.
Now here are my questions:
They don't have eggs in the kitchen?
The don't have oil in the kitchen?
They don't have ketchup in the kitchen?
They don't have horseradish in the kitchen?
The chipoltle mayo is premade, so no separate mayo is ever used?
Believe me, I wasn't unpleasant about it, just a bit incredulous. But what did bug me was the distinct feeling I got that that my real sin, in the eyes of this bartender, was wanting the high-cal stuff at all and not following the program.
Have you had a similar experience? And was I wrong in making such a fuss about this (although in a quite respectful way)?
it is an upscale chain, one that I don't much care for. The first couple times I went I quite liked it but the menu barely changes despite them telling you it's seasonal (only 3 seasons apparently at Seasons). Little changes are variations on a theme, so the chicken skewers change from Teryiaki to Curried and back again, and they have a special pizza or pizza change. Otherwise it's always pretty much the same thing.
I just think the menu is too small to be interesting, I never really know what to order when I'm there and I don't think it's worth the money. I don't expect the cooks can vary off the menu so they probably wouldn't be able to whip up a mayonnaise.
I agree that that season part is really not very seasonal. It's mostly all the same things except maybe one or two items.
Things I've liked
Goat Cheese Ravioli
Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
The salmon dish I had there was okay, and I wasn't too please with the seared tuna salad.
I was upset when they told us to come back for the spring menu, and I really didn't see any variance.
I'm not familiar with this restaurant, but even if they did have eggs and oil in the kitchen, I'm not sure how realistic is it to expect them to whip up a batch of mayo for you from scratch. I doubt they'd even know how to do it even if they were willing to do so.
It's reasonable to expect that at all chains, the sauces come pre-made and they're not going to be able to make any custom sauces for you.
I guess it's all about managing expectations. I'd instantly be suspicious of any place that sets a calorie-count limit. But that's just reflective of my experience.
I'm a long time lover of Seasons. I've been to their original location in Orlando and the one in Atlanta. However, I'm not a fat free health nut. I just like their food. To answer your question...no, they don't have eggs (look at the menu...is there anything that would need them? The same goes for horseradish.) They don't have oil. All their food prep methods are oil free. They don't serve burgers or hot dogs from what I remember so I'm sure they don't have ketchup. I have to say I would pay real money to have seen the bartender's look when you asked for it! LOL.
I enjoy their Orlando location. I can understand your frustration but if they don't make those items they they don't buy them. I believe the chipotle mayo that they served you is premade and is served on their fish tacos. I enjoy their fish tacos quite a bit.
I guess the lesson learned is just to order what you like as a the stand alone dish and not realize on a sauce or extra side item to make the dish taste how you would like it.
btw those mini desserts are divine.
It's a bit like trying to order a steak or even a glass of milk in a vegan restaurant, doing so only gets your dander up and leaves the establishment's staff befuddled. If the food is as tasty as you claim, then you don't need tartar sauce or seafood sauce, both which will overpower any seasoning used by the restaurant. When in Rome..... If venturing into a place that prepares food differently and you know that they do so, then go with how they prepare it even though it's different from how you typically eat it.
Being from NY I've never heard of this restaurant. However, reading your post, I completely understand your incredulousness. However, from the restaurant's perspective, it was as if you were ordering a ham and cheese at a Kosher deli. Personally I believe in moderation vs abstaining from all fat, but the restaurant has a right to decide what ingredients and condiments to stock or not stock.