Seasons 52 has returned its focus to regular appetizer and entrée items for the seasonal launch of its new menu this winter after having added a new twist in the fall when it debuted seasonal flatbreads.
But the 21-unit casual-dining chain is certainly not being overly staid with its new offerings, which include venison as well as a “vegetable plate” that features roasted pears, grilled tofu and almond tabbouleh.
The new items at the Darden Restaurants’ brand, available beginning Dec. 20, are:
• Organic Tomato Stack Salad with arugula, blue cheese, chopped bacon and a balsamic glaze
• Grilled Venison Chop on Venison & Mushroom Ragout with truffle mashed potatoes
• Farmer’s Market Vegetable Plate with roasted Bosc pears, butternut squash, grilled tofu and almond tabbouleh
• Golden Beets with wasabi sour cream
• Eggnog Mini Indulgence, the latest miniature dessert, available for a limited time during the holidays. The autumn Mini Indulgence was a pumpkin pie dessert with gingersnap crust.
Although tomatoes are seasonal in the summer months, senior director of culinary Cliff Pleau said, “While tomatoes typically aren’t thought of as a winter dish, they still remain very popular with our guests during the winter months.”
So, for the colder months, he gives them a more robust treatment by adding balsamic glaze, grilled red onions, bacon and crumbled blue cheese. In the spring and summer, he’ll pair tomatoes with lighter ingredients, such as basil, he said.
This is not the first time that venison has appeared on Seasons 52’s menu, but this is the first time it has been served with those particular accompaniments, a company spokesperson said.
The flatbreads added in the fall were grilled portobello mushroom and five-cheese flatbread with spinach and truffle sour cream, and artichoke and goat cheese flatbread with spinach, balsamic onions and roasted peppers.
As the chain’s name implies, menu items are tweaked over the course of the season.
Seasons 52 also has added two cocktails for the winter — one fruity and one chocolaty:
• The Ruby Red Grapefruit Martini combines grapefruit-infused vodka and agave nectar. It replaces the Superfruit Martini in the fall that was made with blueberry and pomegranate juices and an açaí-infused spirit.
• The Skinny Chocolate Espresso is made from espresso vodka, chocolate coconut water and agave nectar. It replaces the Chocolatini, which combined raspberry cocoa vodka and chocolate coconut water.
Named for its frequently changing menu, Seasons 52 opened in 2003 as a restaurant and wine bar targeting an affluent, health-conscious clientele, with none of the menu items containing more than 475 calories.
Darden has been expanding the concept more rapidly over the past 18 months, having opened six units in the fiscal year ended June 30. It has opened three restaurants since then, in Naples and Jacksonville, Fla., and Kansas City, Mo.
It plans to open locations in Santa Monica, Calif., Garden City, N.Y., and Oak Brook, Ill., next year.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary