You're standing in the Mall with Thunderstorms rolling through and trying to make a choice; Capital Grille to the right and Seasons 52 to the left. Add to the equation that I'm sitting on a Capital Grille Gift card with $70 remaining. So why would I choose Seasons 52? Nobody knows.jump-->
I took a peek outside and even though it was well covered and away from the rain, there was a specific reason I decided to eat inside. I made a joke about it to the hostess, and she proceeded to seat me in the bar area. They have a beautiful dining room with a big open kitchen; but they seat people at the bar for some unknown reason. I didn't feel like complaining today.
Seasons 52 Bar Area
Just a minute after I'd been seated, the reason I didn't want to sit outside came inside; luckily he turned the other way and started chatting with some people at the bar. What's lunch without an appearance from Dennis Rodman?
Dennis Rodman at Seasons 52
It took quite a while for my server to come and take my beverage order. When you're sitting next to the bar it should be faster. He also didn't explain the specials to me as he did the other tables nearby; I guess I wasn't that important to him. Eventually he took my tea order and brought me a boatload of lemon, which is one good thing about the big chain restaurants.
Seasons 52 Iced Tea
I'm past my Breaking Bad phobia, so I indulged in some Truvia, one of the many Stevia derivations. Not bad stuff. Pure Stevia is very sweet and has a bad aftertaste, but they've tamed it quite a bit with Truvia. I ordered the Chili and "Grilled Spring Lamb Kefta", which is served with Tzatziki. Of course they were "out" of the Kefta; my server explained that they're transitioning their menu, which made little sense to me. I had to re-assess my choice, but told him to bring the chili in the meantime.
One Major Criticism of Darden is their soup policy, which seems to get worse over time. A "cup" of chili is $6.25 and a "bowl" is $6.75, which is not only absurd; it's insulting. I went with the bowl since there really is no other choice.
This is not chili; it's soup. It's made with bison meat, which is very lean and no doubt contributed to the tastelessness of the dish. It was a chore to eat this; if I'd made something this bad at home I would have just thrown out the entire batch.
It has onions in it, but apparently the recipe doesn't include using the onions and fat from the meat to flavor the dish. Considering that it's Season's 52, they probably drain all of the flavor off to save a couple of calories. Don't get the Chili: it sucks.
I had decided on the "Warm Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad". Categorizing this dish as a "salad" is just plain wrong.
I was surprised by the melted cheese; the menu description promises fresh mozzarella and just conjures up a different image. I wonder how many people eat the rosemary sprig?
It wasn't bad tasting; there was a little dab of pesto on it. The problem that i have with this is that it would have been better served with fresh unmelted Mozzarella and fresh basil; Caprese is a cold salad, so this is something else. Basil is expensive I guess; another bad recipe from Darden.>
No refill offered for my empty iced tea glass resulted in a minimum tip.
They tout the "fact" that each dish is 475 calories or less, which is achieved by leaving out stuff like butter and oils; the things that make foods taste good. Of course they want you to drink and have dessert, so the calories per item don't mean much. The Chili is listed at 380 calories and the "salad" at 440, so this was an 820 calorie lunch. Somehow I doubt that they include the bread in the salad computation, because there's no way the 3 slices of cheese with pesto and bread is only 440 calories.
To think that I could have had a cheeseburger instead.
Seasons 52 is a restaurant designed specifically for the Whole Foods crowd; people willing to pay more to make them feel good about themeselves. The gimmick here is that all dishes are under 500 calories. The problem is that they leave out the stuff that makes food worth eating in many cases.
Inside it's a pretty nice restaurant; dark, redish wood with colorful upholstery. They have a large bar on one side and a dining room on the other. But on a 78 degree day in December, the outside patio is the way to go.
Seasons 52 Fort Lauderdale Patio view
I'd checked the menu online; of course the have no prices, and saw a couple of things I wouldn't mind trying. Their menu changes 2 or 3 times a year, with the Seasons (get it?) They have some lunch "specials" that aren't a special low price; they're just something you can only get at lunch, I think. $19.95 for a lunch entree is no deal. They usually have some sort of chili; I'd liked one I'd had before and didnt like the another. As with other Darden restaurants, you can get a cup or a bowl, with the bowl priced 50 cents more. They imply that fewer calories is better, but they price the product so that you have to get the larger portion so that you don't feel like a fool paying a bowl price for a cup of soup.
I ordered Iced Tea with extra lemon, but it came out with 1 small wedge. I reminder my server and she brought me enough to last through the afternoon. But the tea was incredibly weak. Luckily the lemons allowed me to make lemonade. Splenda was available.
Seasons 52 Iced Tea
When the chili came out, I knew I'd been fooled once again.
Seasons 52 Venison Chili
Similarly to the last time I had "chili" here, this was really soup. It had a strange consistency, like it's thickened with cornstarch or something, and it was bland as expected. There was some meat; if it was venison it didn't add anything to the soup. It tasted the same as the last chili soup I had here. No taste. Just a bowl of stuff.
I'd seen some pictures of the Chile Relleno on the web, and they all looked a bit different. They say this is over pico de gallo, but this had roasted tomatoes or something, and it was clearly cooked. Pico De Gallo is by definition uncooked. Whoever makes the menu here either doesn't know anything about food, or they think that their customers don't.
Seasons 52 chile Relleno
This reminded me of the dish I got at California Pizza Kitchen, and as with most of the dishes at Seasons 52, it replaced needed good stuff (cheese) with filler. A modified version, for the sake of your health.
Seasons 52 Chili Relleno
It had a a good amount of chicken and it was pretty spicy. If it was swimming in gooey cheese it would have been a lot better. As with most dishes here, it was missing the stuff that makes the dish taste good. The "roasted corn cake" just makes me think that they don't even taste their recipes; completely bland mush.
When I asked for my check, my server tried to push the desserts. Instead of pushing a 300 calorie dessert, how about giving me some more cheese on the Chile Relleno?
I've never been a fan of this place, and this visit certainly didn't change my mind. UnSeasoned 52 would be a better name for the place. Making food tasteless to lower the calories is no way to live. If you want a Chile Relleno, you go to Tipico down the street and go home smiling; you don't come here.
Another bad $20 lunch choice in Fort Lauderdale.
My First Visit to Seasons 52
On my first visit here, I had the grilled trout which is served with vegetables. I foolishly asked for butter; a request that was ruthlessly denied. I learned a lesson about Seasons 52 then; this is not a place to get good tasting food.
Seasons 52 Trout
Not a bad dish, but 25 calories of butter transforms this into a bland, boring purpose meal into something totally delicious. Does saving 25 calories really make sense here?
After I went, I reviewed the "reviews" in the user review sites and I learned how little people know about food. Everything here is wrong. This is food for stupid people.