Location: 340 Ward Pkwy, Plaza
Food: American, healthy bent
Service: Traditional Waitstff
Atmosphere: Biz Casual Dining
Rating: two napkins
The kind folks at O'Neill Events and Seasons 52 invited me back recently to try their winter menu (*free food alert! My whole meal was comped). I apreciated the offer and gladly accepted, wanting to experience the restaurant on a normal night with other patrons filling the place.
We were quickly seated in a booth in the main dining room which was almost entirely full, buzzing with conversation, clinking of glasses and forks on plates... the kind of commotion in which I like to be enveloped when eating out.
"From hearty root vegetables such as butternut squash and golden beets, to delectable fruits such as grapefruit and pear, Seasons 52’s winter menu is full of refined flavors. By utilizing natural cooking techniques, such as wood-fire grilling, brick-oven cooking and roasting, winter’s freshest produce shines on the new menu in memorable dishes that enable diners to celebrate living well."
Not the case here. What struck me was that this one had such a fun combination of flavors! Flatbread usually makes me want pizza. This basically was a pizza. Studded with pineapple, roasted poblano pepper, feta cheese and succulent, plump shrimp, then drizzled with chipotle sauce and garnished with cilantro, it almost had the flavor of tacos al pastor sub seafood for pork. It had me thinking and feeling Baja, which is a good thing.
For entrees, we honed in on the Specials and kept the seafood theme alive. First, I had the swordfish. It's a pretty solid bet, swordfish is. Probably won't knock your socks off, but it's a predictable, meaty steak of a fish that won't leave you hungry. Seasons 52's preparation is a grilled steak resting atop a tiny bed of shrimp risotto. Keeping all menu items under 475 calories, the risotto was less than plentiful, as I expected. But it added just enough starch to serve its purpose. I would've liked more, but certainly didn't need it.
Around the outside of my dish were steamed veggies which caused me to think: I could have made these at home. But that simple fact notwithstanding, they were steamed nicely which is to say al dente. Not overdone.
On the side, we got a small plate of the shrimp, lump crab and spinach-stuffed mushrooms. After eating one, let's just say they were ambitiously entitled. They were spinach and Parmesan mushrooms with a light contribution of shellfish. Hardly enough to bare mentioning, in reality. And a stuffed mushroom is a fatally flawed food-item in my opinion anyway as the mushrooms are almost always overly watery in the mouth. Pretty mediocre.
Seasons 52 keeps on going with their shot glass desserts, 275 calories or less. And they should. They taste great and so many diners want an inexpensive, small dessert option like this. I applaud the idea and think every restaurant ought to have small, affordable desserts like this available. We tried four and I feel no embarrassment in saying so. All were good. Not mind blowing, but just what we wanted. For the record, they were mocha macchiato, pecan pie, key lime and German chocolate. Try them out.
Here's what I say: there are plenty of diners out there who eat out a lot and get tired of menus full of nothing but rich, indulgent options. Business travelers flood the plaza every week and many of them are forced to eat out and want something tasty but reasonably healthy. Seasons 52 gives them that option. You can find better food at a better price in this city but you can't find any restaurant with the upscale atmosphere and balance of healthier/good-tasting food they have.
So I must applaud Seasons 52 on filling a void many of us recognized but for which we didn't have a good resolution. I'd love to see a local place open up, serve the same niche and gain favor with Kansas Citians, but until then, Seasons 52 will stay on my radar each time I have clients in town for my nine-to-five job.
Rating: two napkins