Kelly the Culinarian: Eating my way Through Summer at Seasons 52 Chicago

Friday, July 17, 2015

Eating my way Through Summer at Seasons 52 Chicago

I love Seasons 52 - it's long been my go-to for professional lunches with clients and upscale dinners with the parents. What I like about the place is they cater to a number of different dietary restrictions with ease, and all of the food is less than 500 calories. The nutritional information is right on the menu, which changes weekly depending on what's in season (hence, the name of the place). It's nice to go to a place where you pay for quality ingredients rather than insane portion sized that you shouldn't be eating anyhow.

I got invited to enjoy the restaurant's summer menu, but as always, the opinions are all mine. We started the evening snack through all the establishments flatbreads and enjoying the signature summer cocktails, a strawberry basil infusion and a Meyer lemon cocktail. That lemonade was dangerous - it tasted so summery and fresh I barely ascertained it contained booze.

As for the flatbreads, this summer they're offering a sweet chili glazed duck that's amazing, although I think the roasted roma flatbeard that's next to that beautiful strawberry cocktail was my favorite. I love the flatbreads because they're so thin that they're super crispy.

After a wonderful introduction about the food we were going to enjoy, we were seated and treated to a delicious truffle risotto that was deliciously creamy and earthy with the generous portion of shaved truffles on top.

I was already starting to get full. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. So we soldiered on through appetizers. Upon the recommendation of our super awesome waitress (Thanks, Heather!), we tried the Ahi tuna tartare, the blistered shishito peppers in goat cheese and the heirloom tomatoes with warm her crusted mozzarella.

As my garden tomatoes are still super green, this was my first taste of fresh summer tomatoes. This dish did not stand a chance at our table. I had to restrain myself from finishing the tuna as I found mango in it (sweet delicious death, or maybe not, since I did not require medical attention), but it was like eating all the good parts of sushi. I sampled the peppers and decided to leave more room in my tummy for entrees. We went all out - upon the recommendation of the chef, I went with the chimichuri-marinated New York strip steak, which came with roasted potatoes. We also sampled the salmon with risotto, the shrimp scampi, the skillet roasted corn with bacon, roasted broccoli Ceasar and pan-seared scallops.

My steak was phenomenal - a good amount of char, but still pink on the inside. The tomatoes and potatoes were great complements, which I savored alongside the broccoli. The salmon was also deliciously charred and seasoned appropriately, and the corn was a nice side for it all. Can't wait to enjoy it for lunch today, in fact.

And no dinner out is complete without dessert. What I love about Seasons 52 is they serve only mini desserts - small bites that encapsulate entire plates of desserts so you leave satisfied, not guilty. There's an array of potential tastes, too: a deconstructed cannoli, cheesecake, tiramisu. We went with the keylime pie, the pecan delight, the smores morsel and the peanut overload. My favorite was the smores, which contained layers of chocolate ganache, cake and mouse, along with graham cracker crumbs and a toasted marshmallow. It's amazing how much flavor you can fit into a shot glass.

I very much enjoyed my meal and intend to keep coming back, most likely to the Schaumburg or Oak Brook locations. The one big bummer for me about this place is it's so busy on the weekends that unless I know a few days before, it's hard to get in without a reservation. First world problem, for sure: a great restaurant is so busy it's hard to get into.

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