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A Nutritionista-Approved Chain

March 4th, 2010 4 Comments

–By Nutritionista

By now, you may know that “chain” is almost a dirty word in my vocabulary. For the most part, I don’t see the point of them. The food at most chains is pretty average, and since they’re all over, they’re obviously not unique. What’s worse, chains (and I’m not talking about just fast food here, guys) have some of the worst-for-you food out there. But while I was in Florida last year, I discovered a chain I actually love, for not only its food, but its food philosophy as well: Seasons 52.

Seasons 52 is “seasonally inspired cooking with every item under 475 calories.” So far, so good. From the website:

“The Seasons 52 menu is seasonally-inspired with the fresh appeal of the farmer’s market. It represents a unique blend of art and science, with creative offerings designed to excite and surprise the palate. We feature dining choices that are thoughtfully prepared and in appropriate portion sizes. So our guests feel the freedom to indulge in a complete dining experience, including our custom flatbreads and signature mini-indulgence desserts, while still feeling good about themselves and their dining choices.

“We use natural cooking techniques such as wood-fire grilling, brick-oven cooking and caramelizing vegetables to let the natural flavors shine through. And we execute precision with seasoning, and oil with control and care to ensure just the right amount is used to bring out the great flavor profiles. An added benefit to this style is that our menu items are naturally lower in calories. In fact, we make a promise that nothing on our menu is over 475 calories. The result is great tasting, highly satisfying food that just so happens to be good for you!”

Sounds good, but does it taste good? Well, after trying the restaurant for the second time a few days ago while I was vacationing in Florida, I can authoritatively say yes! This time, I tried the Maui Tuna Crunch Salad (“sushi grade seared tuna and tuna poke, pineapple salsa, almonds, and miso vinaigrette”). It looked like this:

It was really good! I liked all the textures in the salad, not provided by croutons or tortilla chips, but by crunchy radish, cabbage, and almonds. My dining companion got the Blackened Mahi Mahi Sandwich (“with Chipotle lime remoulade on a grilled whole wheat bun”). I tasted a little piece of the fish, and it was delish!

I love that the sandwiches are served with a lightly dressed side salad instead of traditional fries. The salad keeps everything wonderfully light! Also, notice the grilled lemon served with the fish sandwich. That’s the kind of thoughtful touch I can appreciate in a chain restaurant!

My other favorite thing about Seasons 52 are the desserts. They’re 4-5 bite “shots” of dessert classics, like cheesecake, carrot cake, red velvet cake, or pecan pie. It’s the perfect amount of dessert to give you that “complete meal” feeling without the heavy feeling that usually accompanies it. We got strawberry shortcake and mango cheesecake shots.

Perfect! A more professional pic:

Unfortunately, as of yet, Seasons 52 only has locations in Florida and Georgia, but it looks like they’re expanding to California and Illinois soon. Watch for it, and let me know what you think if you’ve tried it.

  • Rana

    Interestingly enough, the creator of this restaurant is an alum from my university and JUST visited last weekend to talk about his work as an entrepreneur and how he has achieved such success with his restaurants. I cannot wait to try it out myself!

  • Mary Grace Mock

    I live in NYC, but I’m originally from Atlanta, GA and we have a Seasons 52 directly across from our condo in Buckhead! It is one of my absolute favorites and despite the overwhelming number of amazing restaurants in NYC, I still find myself craving Seasons 52 at least once a week. My dad frequents the restaurant so often, the waitstaff all knows him by name! Needless to say, my family is a big fan (both of the food and the philosophy behind the menu) of Seasons 52 and might single handedly keep the Buckhead location in business :)

  • This again?

    Energy Kitchen in NYC is amazing. Everything is under 500 calories – either raw, steamed, grilled, or baked. And it’s all very reasonably priced ($6.95 for an ostrich burger on wholegrain roll, all wraps $5 in March, etc).

    • I love that place, but I don’t remember the prices being that good.