Founded in Orlando, Seasons 52 is a restaurant that delivers fresh fare in a great setting. It has been a longtime favorite of my family’s for any special occasion- birthdays, graduations, or when company is in town. A dinner or lunch at Seasons 52 means we are celebrating something, which makes eating here such a treat. However, what makes eating here such a treat is that they really take the time to accommodate guests with a wide range of special diets and food allergies.
Seasons 52 earned it’s name from it’s focus on serving up the season’s best offerings. The menu completely changes four times a year with the seasons and every week, specials rotate through the menus for that week only. It’s exciting to come during various times of the year to see how the menu completely shifts to accommodate the freshest ingredients, but difficult too, because a favorite item may not be available upon one’s next return. In terms of special diets, all information can be found on the alternate menus tab on their website. Currently, they offer dedicated menus for those who cannot eat gluten, lactose/dairy, or garlic as well as those needing a low sodium, vegetarian, or vegan meal. While it’s tricky to find common points on the menus that meet my duel intolerances, the mere fact they separate the menus puts them ahead of the game in my book.
For this review, I visited the chain’s Altamonte Springs location, which is north of Orlando. Their flagship restaurant is on Sand Lake Road (aka “Restaurant Row”) which is south of town, but I prefer the smaller, more intimate feel of the Altamonte location. I visited on Easter Sunday for dinner, which meant the menu celebrated springtime flavors. From previous visits, my go-to favorites have been their soups, salads, and grilled entrees. Fully prepared to order my go-to dish, the light and flavorful boneless rainbow trout, I decided to take a chance and ask the waitress about a dish I saw on the dairy-free menu but was absent from the gluten-free one: the Plainville Farm turkey skewer. Well-versed and knowledgeable about the ingredients of the dish, she said the turkey skewers were definitely possible as long as the BBQ glaze was left off and roasted veggies were substituted for the vegetable pilaf which did contain gluten. Excited in my discovery of this new dish open to me, I couldn’t wait to try it out.
When it finally arrived, the presentation was very impressive. The veggies were beautifully arraigned around the turkey skewer. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to snap a picture, but the picture I did get does do some justice to the presentation. The roasted carrots and asparagus were simply seasoned which really emphasized their fresh flavor. I particularly liked the carrots, which were perfectly tender. The turkey, now off the skewer, were nice and bite-sized, which made it easier to eat. On my first bite, I thought I tasted a hint of soy sauce, which prompted me to double check with the waitress and chef that it was indeed gluten-free, but once given the okay, I breathed a sigh of relief. The turkey was juicy and was complimented by a mustard-based seasoning, which didn’t overpower the meat. I’m glad I was full and happy because a signature experience of Seasons 52 is their mini dessert tower. Of all the decadent, desserts, the only one that is gluten and dairy free is the fresh fruit, which I passed up, not really wanting the sweetness.
All in all, the meal was satisfying and the restaurant delivered another safe, allergen aware meal. I left the restaurant full and happy, and thankful for their attention to detail. I commend the waitress who was serving my family for her knowledge and expertise on the menu, quick thinking when adapting existing menu items, and her patience when I wanted to be sure my meal was safe. It’s dedication like this that keeps me coming back. If I could make any suggestions for improvement, it would definitely be making a gluten-free version of their signature flatbreads. These delicious dishes were my favorite menu item pre-diagnosis and if they were ever able to accommodate gluten-free diners, I would be thrilled.
Update 7/4/14- Since Seasons 52 changes their menu for every season, I figured I’d share my thoughts on their Summer 2014 lunch menu. In comparing the gluten-free and dairy-free menus, I found that many items were “crossovers” and appeared on both menus which provided me many options to choose from. After deliberation, I selected a cup of their tomato basil soup and the grilled chipotle spiced chicken skewers. Like the turkey skewer off the spring menu, the chicken skewers were on the dairy-free menu but not on the gluten-free one. However, my waiter assured me that they could be adapted and that he would talk to the chef and make sure they were prepared as such.
When it came out, the soup’s aroma was tantalizingly spiced with warm tomato and fresh basil. The soup itself was rich and comforting and had a nice texture that was in the middle between pureed and chunky. The cup-sized appetizer portion was just enough and provided the perfect amount to give a taste without overwhelming the meal.
When the chicken skewers came out shortly after, I was again impressed with Seasons 52’s beautiful presentation. The three skewers were peppered with a corn salad and fresh cilantro on top and served over a tomatillo sauce as a base. The dish was light and summery and was the perfect compliment to the tomato soup. Once again, Seasons 52 delivered a safe meal thanks to their knowledgeable staff and committeemen to catering to special diets.