Friday, August 27, 2010

Seasons 52 in Costa Mesa Opens Monday. A Preview Lunch.

The fresh, seasonal, healthy dining is not a new concept in California. Interestingly enough, the Senior Culinary Director of Seasons 52 had his roots in Berkeley during the heydays of Chez Panisse, but the chain started in Orlando in 2003 and has now finally found a California home in its twelfth location in Costa Mesa.
At this 300-seat restaurant they're taking the healthy up a notch, though. Everything on the menu is under 475 calories. They don't use oil or butter and nothing is fried. Remember the scene in Food Revolution where Jamie Oliver made this family bury their deep fryer? Yeah, that.

There's a piano man behind the bar providing nightly live entertainment.
There's a Chef's Table that holds 12 (but you can reserve with a minimum of 8 people) where you can partake in a tasting menu similar to what I'm about to show you below.
The restaurant opens August 30, but I attended a media preview lunch last weekend.

The wine list, which offers 100 wines and 60 by the glass, at all the locations and all the pairings we had today are prepared by their beverage director George Miliotes, a Master Sommelier.

We started with some champagne (Chartogne-Taillet Cuvee Sainte Anne) and some passed flatbreads on the patio (which overlooks the South Coast Plaza parking lot, but the weather's beautiful all the same).
Chipotle shrimp with roasted poblanos, grilled pineapple and feta cheese.
All the flatbreads are made with their brick oven.

Black Mission Fig with chevre, Nueke's bacon, mint, arugula.
The sweet figs and the goat cheese were great on top of the crispy crust.

Our lunch started with an amuse bouche:
Lump Crab and Haas avocado with pico de gallo
This was paired with a Lioco Indica Rose, Mendocino 2009 which had a surprisingly dark and deep color for a rose.

Wild Pacific salmon and sea scallop roasted on a cedar plank.
(Paired with Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Central Coast 2008)
The scallop was skewered with a stalk of lemongrass. Instead of oil or butter, they use vegetable glaze to get the moisture and the mouthfeel. Both the salmon and the scallop are very moist, though a couple of the other bloggers said their salmon was a little overcooked.
The chardonnay was clean and crisp with a little acidity and proved to be a good pairing with the seafood.

Earthbound Farm organic greens with Oak-grilled mushrooms and truffle dressing
(Paired with Sinskey Pinot Noir, Carneros 2007)
Chef Pleau shared his recipe for the truffle dressing:

2 oz miso, 2 oz lemon juice (from Meyer lemon), 2 oz olive oil (or garlic oil), 2 oz tamari/soy, 2 oz truffle oil.

The dressing had a great aroma and a nutty flavor due to the miso. Nonfat sour cream is drizzled around the side for more body.

This Costa Mesa location will have a list of biodynamic California wines that their other stores do not have, thanks to its proximity to the wine country (biodynamic wines don't travel as well).

Sonoma goat cheese ravioli with roasted garlic, basil, and light tomato broth.
(Paired with Retromarcia, Chianti Classico 2008)
This was another good pairing as the wine cuts the salt and richness that came from the goat cheese.

Mesquite-grilled lamb rack and Manchester Farms quail breast, mashed sweet potato, San Miguel farm bok choy.
(Paired with Markham Petite Sirah, Napa 2004 for the quail and De Toren Fusion V, Stellenbosch 2007 for the lamb)
Both the lamb and quail were tender and flavorful. The bok choy came from a small farm in the south part of Oxnard and was more tender than its grocery store counterparts. The South African Stellenbosch was full bodied, more subtle fruit, and was a good palate cleanser in between the two proteins.

The desserts, alas, aren't really "low calorie" but they are still under 475 calories. How? Well, smaller portions! You can eat your cheesecake and your pecan pies and rocky road cake, but the size of the shot glasses keeps your calorie intake in check.
For the dessert wine they served Selbach-Oster Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Auslese, Mosel 2006. Interestingly enough, the next Monday I had a 2007 Mosel Kabinett Riesling at Melisse.

One of my favorites: Pecan "Pie"

The take-home message? Seasonal fare using local, small farms. No oil, no butter, no gas, no frying and yes, even if you don't worry about whether or not they're under 475 calories, the food tastes good. You won't miss the oil, that I promise.

Seasons 52
3333 Bristol Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 437-5252
http://www.seasons52.com/locations/costa_mesa.asp
Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

stuffycheaks

OMG i need one of this on the westside! esp after having chicken marsala at Cheesecake factory for 1600 calories, sadness

Lynne

Hi! It was great meeting you at Seasons 52 blogger luncheon. I think this restaurant is going to go stellar!

Lynne
www.cookandbemerry.com

amy

Looks so good. I'll have to go check it out. Loved the plating of the desserts. very cool!

Kat

I hope I get all that! Probably not, but I am looking forward to my dinner tonight! =D Although you scared me with this "healthy" thing you keep mentioning... lol

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