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Smart, stylish Seasons 52 at the Galleria reflects its concept in its name: seasonal ingredients, as fresh as they come, are carefully are creatively prepared
By Jana Soeldner Danger
Smart, stylish Seasons 52 at the Galleria reflects its concept in its name. The idea is that every week of the year, nature brings different foods to their seasonal peaks of freshness and taste, so each week, ingredients change to incorporate what’s best. The entire menu changes to reflect the season (and yes, we do have seasons here in South Florida). The company’s flagship restaurant is in Orlando; the Galleria is its second location.
The fare is lower calorie than at many fine dining establishments – the menu does not contain a single item with more than 475 calories. Most entrees and appetizers are creatively seasoned and either grilled or roasted over open-fire oak-burning grills to build flavor without heavy sauces. There are no deep fat fryers on the premises. Flavor, however, is there in abundance.
A large, square bar is the centerpiece of the softly lighted adjacent lounge. In the dining room, the contemporary interior design features mahogany tables, stone pillars, a planked ceiling with open beams, and a view of the theater kitchen.
The wine list includes about 120 pours. More than 70 are offered by the glass, including some excellent labels for which you might expect to have to purchase an entire bottle. Glasses are washed and rinsed twice, and steamed and polished to ensure that no soap residue interferes with the taste of the wine. When you order by the glass, the server brings the bottle to the table so you can see the wine actually poured and know you are getting what you asked for.
Housemade ravioli ($6.75) was plump with pungent, flavorful goat cheese, nicely complemented by a broth made with fresh tomatoes and accented with fragrant basil and crunchy pine nuts. The dish was a pleasing combination of textures and tastes.
Instead of fatty, high-calorie butter, a light, delicious sauce made with roasted garlic and caramelized parmesan beautifully enhanced baked button mushrooms stuffed with small, fresh shrimp and tasty lump crab meat ($7.75). The sauce was just enough to bring out the flavors of the seafood without masking them.
Soup of the day ($3.75) was a hearty, homestyle concoction of rich beef and onion broth with ample amounts of shredded steak. Arrowroot, Chipotle peppers, soy sauce, Dijon mustard and a touch of wasabi added complexity, though the soup was actually not very spicy.
Crispy flatbread was a nice foil for grilled steak and crimini mushrooms garnished with melted blue cheese – an interesting and tasty combination of flavors and textures. The menu offers several flatbreads ($2.75-$8.75), and they are nice starters for sharing.
On a previous visit, we tried the impeccably fresh, briny black mussels ($8.50) steamed in a light, garlicky marinara broth made with fish and tomato stocks. On that same visit, we sampled the baby spinach salad ($6.25) -- fresh, crispy greens accented with cool, refreshing sliced pears, crunchy pine nuts and tangy blue cheese. Char-crusted Ahi tuna ($11.50) was thinly sliced and barely seared, its rich meaty flavor balanced by the accompanying cool, refreshing cucumbers and watercress
Pan-seared red snapper ($18.75) was fresh as a shore lunch, with the firm, flaky fish grilled just enough to bring out the delicate, yet rich flavor. The spicy and slightly sweet sauce combined Thai and Indian curries for an Asian flair.
Shrimp ($21.75) stuffed with rich lump crab meat were fresh and firm, served over el dente angel hair pasta. The pureed garlic sauce made with vegetable stock was light and flavorful.
A tender venison chop ($21.95) had the dusky taste of game, as well as the delicious, smoky flavor of the oak wood fire on which it was roasted. Along with mashed sweet potatoes, there was a baked pear, which added unexpected delicacy to the otherwise hearty dish.
Filet mignon ($21.75) also carried the smoky, oak-fired taste of grilling, and was nicely cooked to order. A tasty cracked peppercorn sauce with earthy crimini mushrooms nicely complemented the rich, tender steak.
On a previous visit, we tried the sea scallops ($18.95), which were plump and sweet, grilled to be both firm and tender. The accompanying pearl pasta was tasty enough to be a meal of its own, and the fresh, crisp-tender asparagus spears tasted as if they had just been picked from the garden.
Desserts come in small portions called mini indulgences, priced at $1.95 each, or $17.50 for a tray with a complete selection. Each is just enough to provide a sweet finish to dinner, without making you feel stuffed. Carrot cake was spicy and rich, key lime pie refreshing and cool. Blueberry-lemon cheesecake had plenty of fresh fruit, and nut-free rocky road was rich and good. Other choices are red velvet cake, toasted almond amaretto, key lime pie, and pecan pie with vanilla mousse. In addition to the mini desserts, there’s raspberry sorbet with blueberries and fresh pineapple ($4.75).
Impeccably fresh ingredients, creative seasonings and careful preparation make nearly every dish memorable at Seasons 52.