REVIEW WRITTEN BY LEN LEAR
For Digital First Media
Going to a fine restaurant is about a lot more than food. The moments when you are being waited on by smiling, friendly people in beautiful surroundings are so pleasant that I hold onto them like secrets. They emit a feeling of time-bleached clean of yesterday’s choices with its mundane and necessary pursuits, its hurried feet, spinning doors and ringing phones.
And that is the way we felt during our visit in late January to Seasons 52 in the King of Prussia Mall (160 N. Gulph Road). We have eaten there several times in recent years, always in midweek, and it is always as crowded as a Saturday night, despite the fact that they can seat 265 downstairs and another 120 upstairs for overflow and private parties. I once told a friend that if he ever goes to Seasons 52 and almost every table is not occupied, I will pay for the meal. He and his wife have in fact gone there at least twice since then, and I have not had to reimburse him.
Seasons 52 is a national chain. The first one opened in Orlando, Fla., in 2003, and the King of Prussia location (previously occupied by Benigan’s) opened in April of 2010. The “52” refers to the fact that in addition to the regular menu that changes four times a year, there is a new list of specials every week. The basic concept of Seasons 52, however, is sheer genius. No dish on the menu, from the signature flatbreads and appetizers to the entrees and “mini-indulgence” desserts, is more than 475 calories. When asked how this is accomplished, a spokesman for the company replied, “Through rustic cooking techniques like oak-fire grilling and brick-oven roasting, Seasons 52 creates dishes that are naturally lighter.”
Because of the caloric limit, the first time we went to Seasons 52 we fully expected small portions, but we were pleasantly surprised. Only the desserts are smaller than what you would expect at a fine-dining restaurant anywhere in the Delaware Valley.
Executive chef John Piper and his staff keep the goat cheese ravioli appetizer locked and loaded. The raviolis are zephyr-light, pillow-soft and accompanied by roasted mushrooms and truffled onion jus ($9.25). Equally impressive was the ahi tuna tartare, which seemed like sushi grade and was layered with wasabi-avocado mousse (but was not the least bit spicy), salsa and addictive sea salt crisps ($13.25).
There are several reasonably priced entrees such as the turkey skewer with cucumber, tomato and herb salad, soft grilled pita bread and cilantro sour cream ($16.75) and grilled boneless rainbow trout with baby carrots, crushed roasted potatoes and grilled lemon ($17.75). This winter Seasons 52 is also offering a new entree showcasing two preparations of venison that was farm-raised in New Zealand.
The kitchen made lightning strike with its desserts. We tried the pecan pie, carrot cake and chocolate with peanut butter, after which we offer you this advice: Always yield to temptation; it may not pass this way again.
Seasons 52 has a huge variety of cocktails; craft, local and imported beers and dozens of wines by the glass, some quite pricey. I loved the richness, complexity and long after-taste of the Markham Chardonnay from the Napa Valley, but the $13 price tag is steep.
Service at Seasons 52 is always top-of-the-line. Our waiter this time, Corey Moore, serves up a side order of class. Tall and handsome, he has a rich radio voice and an effusive personality. To paraphrase Shakespeare, you might say that his skills are sharper than a serpent’s tooth. (His grandfather, the Rev. Carl Moore, was a high Baptist official who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in the March on Washington in 1963).
We were glad to tuck this evening in the folds of memory. Or as Liberace said, “Too much of a good thing is never enough.”
For more information, call (610) 992-1152 or visit www.seasons52.com