Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Keyser Söze of Menus - Dining at Seasons 52

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
- Verbal Kint on Keyser Söze, The Usual Suspects

While in Atlanta for a small family reunion, my cousin took us to one of his favorite restaurants: Seasons 52. I did like this restaurant very much and would return. So please keep that in mind while I rant for a little bit...

This restaurant's menu is like Keyser Söze from The Usual Suspects - totally deceptive and completely awesome. Seriously. Take a look at it. Keep reading and you'll find out what I mean.

Why am I reviewing this restaurant?
The allure of this restaurant to the weight-challenged is like siren call.  There is nothing on the menu that is over 475 calories. In fact, it says so at the very top of the menu in big bold letters.

From the Top of the Menu on the Website

My first thought: AWESOME! What a great concept! Sounds like a calorie counter's dream!!! I wonder if it tastes good... oh I bet it does!!!

Then I started to think a little bit more about it and thought "uh-oh... that could really get you in trouble if you're having an appetizer, a salad, dinner, wine, desert". What if each item you order is 475 calories? That could get you in trouble fast... With that thought in mind, I began planning my meal. I did my best to make good food conscious decisions, consulting my LoseIt App a lot.

All the calorie information is from the pdf on the Seasons 52 website. Unlike most restaurants, this information IS actually available out there in cyberspace. However, none of this information was mentioned on the menu itself - much to my disappointment. At one point I did ask a waiter what the calorie count was in something but I did not get an answer. That's ok - I may have told him not to worry about it. I don't remember. I'd had too much wine to care! I just kept checking ingredients on my LoseIt App.

Let's be honest, checking the calorie counts on the website or an App at the dinner table is inconvenient and rude. Yes, I've been doing it a lot lately (sorry dining companions).

Word of Advice: A blanket statement about calorie count DOES NOT absolve the patron of taking responsibility for what they put into their mouth. Myself included. Do not be fooled! Let me tell you about what I ate...

Appetizers Split by the Table
Normally, I would have one of these as a meal and call it a night.
  • Tomato Flatbread - 365 Calories
  • Garlic Chicken Flatbread - 417 Calories (and the best of the Flatbreads)
  • Spicy Shrimp and Chipotle Flatbread - 417 Calories
Small Salad
  • Organic Baby Spinach with Raspberries - 325 Calories. (GASP!!!) I thought it sounded very healthy! I was absolutely not expecting this, and neither was my LoseIt app when I entered the ingredients. Seriously??? Where did those calories come from?
  • Caramelized Sea Scallops - 447 Calories (I expected this to be bad... but it tasted SO INCREDIBLY GOOD, and 447 isn't nearly as bad as it could have been).
Desert - tiny desert like you get at PF Chang's, only more expensive.
  • Rocky Road - 344 Calories (definitely NOT worth the calorie intake, or the extra 50 cents).This tiny desert should not have been more calories than my salad
Drinks - well my mom, dad, my husband and I split two bottles of wine - with my mother and I having the lion's share.

Let's assume that while the entire table was sharing the flatbreads, that I managed to eat at least half of one of them (200 Calories). Add all the rest of this together and I get 1316 Calories NOT including my alcohol consumption. And believe me - I licked those plates clean! When I gain weight this week, you know this meal is most likely the cause because I worked my ass off Turbo Jamming in my hotel room.

Keyser Söze I'm telling you! The greatest trick Seasons 52 ever pulled on us was making us believe the calories didn't exist with that blanket statement at the top of their menu. Maybe each individual item is reasonable, but not cumulatively, no. I knew this going into it and was somewhat conscious of my decisions using my LoseIt App and still went way overboard.

While the atmosphere was great, the staff incredible, the food SUPER DELICIOUS, I can't say that I am totally happy with the experience in retrospect. Where the restaurant did not go far enough was in their concept. Seasons 52 may not have butter in their establishment and nothing on the menu is over 475 calories, but they could have gone further and could have put their counts on the menu itself. That would have been a totally ballsy move that I would have applauded. The counts themselves are not bad  - I got a hell of a great entree for 447 calories. This food tastes so good Seasons 52 should be seriously proud of the calorie count of each and every item on the menu. Be proud Seasons 52, and show us your numbers!

By the way, their waitstaff has to to have some of the best looking people I have ever seen as a collection of waiters. Seriously, did they put out a casting call? Gorgeous people! And good at what they do too. I know, this is true of most high class restaurants, but humor me - I'm living in frakking Ohio.

Should you try this restaurant?
Absolutely. Just plan ahead and check their website. Plan on eating just one item (a flatbread, or an entree). Also, avoid alcohol and their deserts. If you have an IPhone, you might to plug Season 52s menu into the LoseIt app before going out to eat, just so you are totally aware. I would definately return and eat here again - though I would be a wiser diner.

Caramelized Sea Scallops
(This was a GREAT dinner for the calories, but had I known how much the salad was I would not have eaten the salad too).

The Family

Incidentally, my LoseIt app on my IPhone did calculate my calorie consumption fairly closely to what the actual amounts according to the website were. I just underestimated the Flatbreads and the Salad by a little bit. Taking that into account, I probably shouldn't rant about this restaurant. My rant is mostly on behalf of all those who eat here who don't take an IPhone with them.

Seasons 52 - if you're reading this, will you please open up one of your restaurants in Dayton, Ohio? We are in need of your sensabilities and tricksy menu!