Seasons 52 Summer Menu Review and Tasting Notes

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Strawberry Lemon Smash

Strawberry Lemon Smash

Last night I had the pleasure to preview the new Summer menu items at Seasons 52 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The Spring menu tasting event in March had been wonderful so I was really looking forward to seeing what new items they’d be introducing for the summer season, and Seasons 52 did not disappoint. Overall I liked nearly everything I tasted and appreciated how these new offerings celebrated so much of what makes summer my favorite season for food and dining.

We first enjoyed two of their signature flatbreads, a new one featuring barbeque chicken (delicious and light, not overpowered by BBQ sauce) and a favorite from the Spring menu, the Artichoke and Goat Cheese Flatbread. These flatbreads are just a great way to start a meal and share something flavorful around a table. It was lovely to taste this again with the Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde wine which has become a favorite of mine since tasting it in the Spring – it’s also perfect for summertime with its low alcohol content and crisp, clean flavor.

We also got to try two new summer cocktails – the Watermelon Refresher and Strawberry Lemon Smash. Of the two, my favorite was the Strawberry Lemon Smash – I loved that how the lemon balanced the strawberry and kept it from being overly sweet. A great palate cleanser between courses. I’m not a huge fan of watermelon, but if you love it you should love the Refresher, made with Enrique Iglesias’ new rum, Atlantico.

Chilled Lobster & Shrimp Spring Roll

Chilled Lobster & Shrimp Spring Roll

Organic Arugula Salad

Organic Arugula Salad

Summer Vegetarian Tasting

Summer Vegetarian Tasting

For our first course, we tried the new Chilled Lobster & Shrimp Spring Roll, served with a trio of dipping sauces: a cool salsa verde combining tomatillo and avocado, a creamy aromatic lemongrass, and a sweet-and-spicy red chili sauce. Anyone who enjoys Vietnamese summer rolls should enjoy this appetizer, featuring fresh crisp veggies, lobster, shrimp and rice noodles wrapped in rice paper. All three of the dipping sauces were tasty so it’s difficult to pick a favorite, although the lemongrass sauce was perhaps the most unique to me. It’s not a strong-flavored dish, but very filling – I had to stop myself from finishing my plate, knowing how much more food was yet to come. This paired nicely with a Hirsch’s Gruner Veltliner #1 wine, not a variety I’d been familiar with before but certainly a wine I’d drink again.

Next was absolutely one of my favorite offerings of the new Summer menu, the Organic Arugula Salad served with watermelon, grilled golden beets, goat cheese, jicama and toasted pistachios. This was such a great and unexpected combination of flavors and textures (even if I skipped the watermelon!) I loved the golden beets adding a smoky-sweet flavor, the peppery bite of the arugula, the crunch of the jicama and nuttiness of the pistachios…just yum. And perfectly, lightly dressed as well. This salad is a winner and well worth sampling while you can!

The Summer Vegetarian Tasting plate is huge and definitely a fun dish to share with friends – or could be an ample meal for a vegetarian diner. It features a “Grains of Life” salad (Farro and Quinoa), a soft taco with cheese and black beans, chili relleno, asparagus, roasted tomato with a tapenade-style topping and cedar plank roasted tofu with a mango chutney. My favorite was the taco and the Grains of Life; the only “miss” was really the tofu, which despite the cedar plank was lacking in much flavor and could have used perhaps more of a marinade (and grilling) to enliven it. Both the arugula salad and vegetarian plate went well with a Honig Savignon Blanc, which had enough body and fruity notes to stand up to all the flavors in these vegetable dishes. Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite summer wines as it’s really perfect for light meals and grilled vegetables.

Wild Alaskan Copper River Salmon

Wild Alaskan Copper River Salmon

Piedmontese All-Natural Bone-in Strip Steak

Piedmontese All-Natural Bone-in Strip Steak

We sampled two summer menu entrees, the first being a Wild Alaskan Copper River Salmon served with corn risotto, asparagus, roasted pepper and a creamy dill sauce. This was a big hit with everyone I spoke to at our table, and well worth enjoying during the short time the Copper River Salmon will be available on the menu (only a few weeks). The salmon has a great flavor and was perfectly cooked, although the real star of the dish was likely the corn risotto. The chef confirmed it was made here with fresh New Jersey corn – only the best, of course! I’m not even typically a dill lover but the sauce here (served on the side, not drenching the fish) was delicious. I wasn’t particularly crazy about the Chehalem “Inox” Wilamette Chardonnay – I’m just not really a Chardonnay fan these days, I found it a bit jarring instead of complementary to the fish. I would have likely stuck with the lovely Honig Sauvignon Blanc, personally.

Our second entree, which was introduced with much fanfare, was the Piedmontese All-Natural Bone-in Strip Steak, an 11 oz. steak served with roasted asparagus, cremini mushrooms and fingerling potatoes. The Piedmontese beef cattle is named after a breed originally found in the Piedmont region of Italy, and Seasons 52’s Pietmont beef is range-raised in Nebraska and grass-fed with an all-natural diet. I really wanted to love this steak because, well, I just always enjoy a good steak, and appreciate beef raised as naturally as possible. But I think perhaps this steak was almost too lean, and the lack of fat ended up resulting in a bit of a lack of flavor. I know Seasons 52’s objective was to serve a large, satisfying steak while staying under their 475 calorie per dish objective, but I think I would have preferred a smaller steak that had a little bit more fat on it to give it more “oomph”. There was also a note I didn’t care for in the mushroom/red wine reduction sauce, something I wasn’t expecting and didn’t quite work for me. That said, I fell in absolute love with the velvety smooth Markham Cellar 1879 Napa Valley Red which was served with the steak. It’s on my must-find wine list after last night’s tasting.

Fresh Fruit Mini Indulgence

Fresh Fruit Mini Indulgence

It was hard to find any small amount of room left for dessert, but a bite or two of one of Seasons 52’s mini indulgences was perfect for the end of the evening. New for the summer is the Berry Cheesecake Mini Indulgence featuring cheesecake, fresh blueberries, raspberry sauce and graham cracker crumbs. I always love their cheesecake-style desserts, and of course it’s hard to go wrong with a beautiful parfait of fresh summer fruit either. The Jam Jar Moscato is a perfect dessert wine as well, as it has enough acidity to it to keep from being cloyingly sweet.

Overall this was a very lovely meal and it was exciting to taste so many fresh and seasonally-appropriate dishes for the summertime at Seasons 52. I would absolutely recommend the Organic Arugula Salad and the Copper River Salmon as an terrific dinner pairing or choice for anyone who might be visiting the restaurant in coming weeks. I’m looking forward to bringing some friends and family to Cherry Hill this summer to try these new menu items before they’re gone…but of course, with the Fall should come more exciting offerings as well!

Season 52
http://www.seasons52.com/
2000 Route 38 Suite 1145
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
(856) 665-1052

Other locations around the United States – visit the Seasons 52 website for more information.

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