Food Porn Friday | Season's 52 | Part IIFriday, February 04, 2011
If you happened to catch my previous post about Season's 52 here you would know that
a) I am NOT a fan
b) YOU wouldn't be either.
That is until I was personally invited back for another go-'round, this time, with an intimate introduction to the menu, the wine, and their overall concept by their general manager and executive chef.
I gotta say this meal was heads and shoulders above my first visit so anything that would surmount during this 3-hr dinner would definitely be fair game. There were obvious highs (bomb-diggity dessert, yet again), little low's (lackluster flatbread), and everything in between was heightened by the impeccable table service (ask for Terri-love!) and winsome wine pairings that singularly facilitated the success of some dishes that wouldn't otherwise even be considered in the running.
Ready to feast y'all?....Here's the breakdown, Part II:
Artisan Flatbreads: Garlic Chicken and Spicy Chipotle Shrimp
After having spent a good 5 minutes snapping shots before diving in, the flatbread simply couldn't stand up to the delay causing the carb to crack and harden as time went by. I expected a crispy crunch with each bite, but instead was met with a stale situation reminiscent of day old pita bread left out in the open. Bland and not at all brittle. Nix the chicken and shrimp, order the Steak and Cremini one instead (not pictured, but tasted on my first visit). At least the savory toppings will save the toughness of that darned "bread".
Kalymnos Greek Salad: Perfectly dressed and topped with fresh feta wedges. Lovelovelove greek salad and I have to admit they did a pretty good job getting the Mediterranean taste down pat. The bf's fave amuse and he's not even a salad-devouring dude.
Earthbound Farm's Organic Arugula Salad: Truffle dressing, portobello mushrooms, and parmesan cheese. A true testament to what Season's 52 SHOULD be all about. A few key ingredients elevated by one star component: in this case, the truffles. May not have complete plate appeal as it looks like you're about to dive head first into a field of greens, but super tasty nonetheless.
Hard at work or hardly working?...Hey man, don't judge :D
Seared Hamachi: (Seasonal) I had ordered it during my first visit and thought it was a very well-balanced dish. Served on a bed of mixed lettuce, mandarin oranges, avocado, and toasted pistachios. The citrus from the orange cuts the saltiness of the soy sauce in half, but only if the perfect bite allows for a marriage of all of the components. My suggestion to the chef was to place each ingredient on an Asian-style soup spoon (or similar), cut back on the soy (wayyy too salty), and allow guests to enjoy the dish as it was meant to be eaten...one refined ration at a time...Much tastier with the merger.
Roasted Eggplant Parmigiana and Spicy Chicken Chile Rellano:
Tastes like it looks...does that tell you anything? I wouldn't necessarily order an Italian dish nor a Latin-inspired one from this type of establishment, but if you're looking for something different, I'd opt for the Chile Rellano over the eggplant. Eggplant was a bit tough as I usually expect a nice stringy texture to each bite, but it lacked that certain craveable quality that's imperative if I were to order it again. As for the Rellano, if advertised as "spicy" please pack a little heat to this punch...unless it's just the Asian palette that I'm used to...it's mild at best. Screaming for a shot of tabasco, much to the chef's chagrin I'm sure.
Grilled Chipotle-Glazed Shrimp: My FAVE app. I'm not a fan of shrimp, but these little succulent suckers resting on a bed of tomatillo salsa verde and served with a side of guac was jam packed full of flavor and smoky goodness. Loved the heat, cooked to perfection...TOTALLY craveable. This is what I'm talking about!
Mini-break between the multitude of upcoming entrees:
Oak-Grilled Filet Mignon with Yukon Gold garlic mashed potatoes and fresh veggies: For the organic-loving meat eater...Better the 2nd time around, char-grilled just the way I like it, a perfect portion for a light eater like myself, but with Capital Grille right next door (and better entrees on the menu), I'd have to pass on the filet. And a total thumbs down on the grainy mashed potatoes...not creamy at all like I'd expect alongside my meat. Substitute it for polenta and tell me it wouldn't make for a better meal.
Grilled Mahi-mahi served with fresh veggies and basmati rice: Like the concept, dislike the taste. Not enough variety in texture makes for a meal of mush. I really wanted to love this dish based on fragrance alone, but the charred lemon juice overpowered the entire dish (make sure to only squeeze a smidgeon!)
Wood Roasted Pork Tenderloin: LOVELOVELOVE this dish. Perfectly seasoned juicy chunks of tenderloin served atop corn polenta, spinach, cremini mushrooms in a dijon glaze...The creamy polenta is to DIE for...I really wanted another helping even with a stuffed belly. Annie ordered this last time we were there and I remembered loving it then too...even after 1 bite. A total HIT fo'sho!
La pièce de résistance: Farmer's Market Vegetable Plate: A true natural beauty. What Season's 52 was born and bred to serve. Beautiful bosc pears, grilled golden beets, fresh veggies, served with cranberry-almond tabbouleh. What all Californians should be eating...tastes like it came straight from Mother Earth, minus the dirt and debris of course. Gorgeous colors, generous portions...light, fresh, and healthy...what's not to love?
Ahhhhhhhh dessert (with a shot of hot coffee this time)...
A Must-order after every meal...'Nuff said :D
Wearing: Thrifted Blouse, Juicy Couture Wide-Leg Jeans, F21 Jacket, Jessica Simpson Necklace
I get the feeling that they're definitely onto something here at Season's 52. The sophisticated SoCal palette is no fool to novelty and gimmicks so for surefire staying power, I'd pass on the excessively dressed dishes (i.e. eggplant, chile rellano) and stick to what you do best. Down home, organic, seasonally inspired comfort food that puts the freshest ingredients front row and center.
My idea of the perfect tasting menu:
Organic Arugula Salad
Steak & Cremini Mushroom Flatbread
Grilled Chipotle-Glazed Shrimp
Caramelized Crab & Shrimp Stuffed Mushrooms
Farmer's Market Vegetable Plate
Manchester Farms Boneless Quail Breast (had during first visit, Love!)
Wood Roasted Pork Tenderloin (with extra polenta :D)
Dessert Tray (mixture of all their desserts), Hot Coffee
Make sure you ask their sommelier or server to pair each plate with their wine of choice...one for the amuse, app, entree...etc. I believe every meal should be eaten like it's intended to, therefore apéritifs are no joke in my book....Although if you're in the mood for cocktails, the Raspberry Sweet Teatini is RIDICULOUSLY tasty and not at all sweet as advertised.
Special thanks to Season's GM Rikin and Chef Todd for taking such great care of us during our visit. I'm never too hard pressed to re-review, especially when there's such great potential ahead in 52's future. I'll definitely be back...but for lunch this time...I've been hearing tons about fish tacos that I'm dying to try...and maybe a Turkey Burger while I'm at it...When in Rome, right?
Visit Season's 52, Costa Mesa
and please tell 'em I sent ya :D
Bon Appétit mes amis!!!
Follow HAUTE KHUUTURE