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I don't know how much creative freedom chef Garey Hiles has in his kitchen — this is a corporate restaurant — but I've enjoyed almost every dish I've tasted here, including a vegetable plate (which can be ordered as either an entrée or a first course) that I applaud for its cleverness: a beautifully composed arrangement of warm and cool delicacies, including an amber roasted Bosc pear, deliciously smoky cubes of ponzu-glazed grilled tofu, butternut squash, and a dollop of tabbouleh sprinkled with almonds and cranberries. The vegetarian in our party shared this with us before taking on a fine, filling bowl of ravioli pillows stuffed with goat cheese, sweet basil and roasted garlic.
The cedar-plank-roasted salmon is offered in two incarnations: a farm-raised hunk from Chile or, for a $6 surcharge, a wild-caught organic version. We tasted the latter, which was particularly delicious. (But I'm always a sucker for a Dijon marinade.) The grilled, caramelized sea scallops were divine — not the most generous portion but ample enough to satisfy the most size-conscious member of my party. It came with fresh asparagus and pearl pasta with tomatoes and mushrooms.
I was happy that night with my dinner: small but sumptuously tender slices of roasted pork tenderloin perched on a mound of soft polenta dappled with crimini mushrooms. I nearly convinced myself that I could eat smaller, healthier portions like this every night, but then decided that I couldn't.
The Seasons 52 dessert concept is brilliant. I'm one of those people who just wants a bite of something sweet after a good meal. I don't need a big slab of chocolate-cream pie to feel complete. (No, wait — sometimes I do.) The little shot glasses offered as finales at Seasons 52 are filled with a variety of pretty layered concoctions: some with a creamy mousse or soft cheesecake, perhaps with bits of carrot cake, or — in the case of the Rocky Road version — miniature marshmallows. They go fast, but they're effective (and less than 275 calories) at staving off an aggressive sweet tooth. We tasted the mocha macchiato, the raspberry-cheesecake creation, the chocolate-peanut-butter mousse, and a couple of others before putting down our spoons and declaring ourselves comfortably full.
Later that night — at about 3 a.m. — I woke up longing for another couple of those shot-glass desserts. I drifted back to sleep, dreaming of meals packing more — many more — than 475 calories. I'm thrilled that Seasons 52 is on the Plaza, offering something besides the buttery grilled steaks at Ruth's Chris Steak House or the hefty bowls of pasta at Brio Tuscan Grille. But could I really become a regular here? Maybe next season.