Monday, April 18, 2011

Seasons 52

It’s always fun to have a new place in town, and Seasons 52 has had a fair amount of hype behind its opening.  Pretty much everyone I knew was excited to see something new, even though it’s a chain, in that area of town (Fashion Mall).  As usual, I waited a few weeks before doing my review, and also did something I almost never do; I asked people what they thought before I went.  Boy.  I got very little positive feedback.  A few people liked the space, or the desserts, but overall, the feedback was not very good. Words like “uninspired,” “unmemorable,” and “under-seasoned” were repeated.  Honestly, I was a little surprised.
But of course, as always, I kept an open mind, and made a reservation (make sure you do that if you want to go because this place is jammed) and met my parents there for dinner.  So we were told their flatbreads are one of their specialties, and even though I keep swearing off flatbreads, I went with it and ordered one as a starter.  We went with the roasted plum tomato option with roasted garlic, basil and parmesan ($7.85).  Hmmmm… roasted garlic? I didn’t notice it.  And the whole thing just didn’t have much flavor.  With those ingredients it should, but it did not.  And the flatbread part was not very hot or crisp and just sort of reminded me of soft cardboard (hubby thinks cardboard is not the right word, he would have said “limp napkin.”)  I need to stop ordering flatbreads no matter how often they pop up on menus (seriously, anyone ever had a good one?).
We also shared another appetizer, the caramelized crab and shrimp stuffed mushrooms ($8.95).  These were better, although nothing that made me want to rush back and order them again.  They were prepared escargot style, in a dish with little compartments that contained one button mushroom top, two small shrimp, and a bit of crab and cheese.  There was something that gave it a little strange flavor—seemed almost metallic to me, although hubby was not put off by it. We thought it could have been the roasted garlic, but in general, I really like roasted garlic, so I am not sure.   The shrimp were tender though, which made me happy, and overall I think everyone at the table liked them better.
For my main, I went with the tiger shrimp penne pasta ($16.95).  I was sort of intrigued because everything on the menu is under 475 calories, so I was hoping for a lighter sauce and smaller portion than your typical pasta dishes (which I rarely order in Indy because of how ridiculously large they usually are).  So it was lighter and there was as many veggies mixed into the dish as there was pasta, but it wasn’t particularly small.  It was served with a lemon basil sauce and parmesan cheese.  The sauce had a pretty good flavor—I am always complaining about not getting a sauce that isn’t a cream or marinara, and this wasn’t…however, it had a slightly fakey taste to me that made me feel like it wasn’t fresh lemon or something.  The shrimp were butterflied, and I think because of that preparation were a little dry.  The ones on the appetizer were much juicier.  Overall, it wasn’t a horrible dish, but it wasn’t overly memorable either.
Hubby had the rainbow trout with spring new potatoes, broiled lemon and veggies ($15.95).  The fish wasn’t bad. Extremely simple—it was cut down the edge lengthwise and boned and then grilled.  The fish wasn’t overcooked and remained fairly moist.   My guess is the seasoning consisted of salt, pepper and lemon.  Is that a bad thing? No.  Is it something you could easily do at home on your grill for a lot less than $16? Yes.  And the sides were completely for show.  The potatoes, asparagus and carrots had very little flavor.
So the best thing, by far, of the meal were the desserts.  They do what they call “mini indulgences”  (all $2.50 each) which are little shot glasses of several kind of your traditional desserts.  They bring you a display with one of each, which you can take right then and there, and if you want a double of something, they will bring that out too.  Now, the idea of the lower calorie thing may get a bit blown here unless you have only one.  One of the shots has 370 calories, so a couple of those get you up there pretty quick.  And we had more than a couple (although we shared them all).  My favorite was actually the key lime pie shot, which had a pleasant sweet and sour key lime filling as well as a crumbly, graham cracker-like layer.   The chocolate peanut butter swirl was probably my next favorite (a classic combination right?) and they one that looked the most tempting to me, the rocky road shot, was actually one of my least favorites.  It was just like chocolate pudding with marshmallows on top (I am a sucker for marshmallows though; it had to be ordered once I saw it).  We also tried the Meyer Lemon (not bad) and my mom ate a pecan pie shot (she loved it).  So the desserts are fun, and like I said, if you stick to one (and they are pretty rich and decadent that you could probably do just one, although when you see them all there, it becomes a bit harder to limit yourself). 
The thing about the food, is while it is meant to be seasonal (well, they change the menu four times a year and then have weekly specials) and healthier, it still feels really corporate and not as fresh and refined as I was sort of imagining when I first heard about this spot.  Going for dessert might be something I would consider doing again at Seasons 52, but a repeat dinner is probably something that is not going to happen, at least not for awhile.  Although judging from the crowd at this place, they don’t need me there, that’s for sure.
Seasons 52
8650 Keystone Crossing
Indianapolis 46240

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon


  1. Yep. Haven't been there -- probably won't go -- but I know exactly what you were served based on this review. I don't know how a chain restaurant could be any other way, you know?

  2. I agree. I ordered the salmon and while it was good, it wasn't as good as the salmon at Taste or even Petite Chou. It was a big dry and even slightly fishy. My friend ordered the vegetarian plate and we shared a bit. I loved the squash, baked pears and mushrooms on that. Overall, fun outing with friends (loved appetizers at the bar--and good wine) but still not knocking my socks off with flavor.

  3. I recently had a flatbread at Kona Grill that I enjoyed. It had brie and apples, and I believe a little carmalized onion as well.

  4. I totally agree with everything you said. Our party of 8 went saturday night and the service was crazy off. Had to ask for a martini 3 times before it came and 2 of the ordered salads never came. I had carmelized sea scallops with asparagus and the plate was very pretty but the asparagus were so undercooked, I had a hard time chewing them and the scallops were not interesting enough to finish my meal. Our shrimp chipolte flatbread was ok. Never served warm, a little overcooked in the shrimp department. The desserts were fun. Loved my peanut butter chocolate, didn't want to share it. The wine list is nice but so over priced. I don't want to pay $16.50 for a Pinot Noir from Oregon! I will check back later this summer after they have time to tweak what is not right.

  5. I agree. When you consider the fact that its owned by Olive Garden and Red Lobster I guess you can't expect too much,

  6. Regardless of the food offerings....I think it is important to look on line at the sodium content of their is absolutely outrageous..

    Chow ! Lorand

  7. We dined at Seasons 52 and also found the food under seasoned. Funny thing, they told us they never have any butter anywhere in the restaurant.

    We thought the ambiance was good, and the decor was beautiful, especially in the bar, where we ate. It is first-come-first-served, however.

    One thing we liked was that they have separate gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and no-garlic menus, although we did not know that until we asked our server about vegetarian and garlic-free items.

    Anyway, we will probably return, but not soon.