Oak Brook’s Seasons 52 offers fresh flavors year round
George Miliotes, director of beverage and hospitality for Seasons 52, is one of only 180 master sommeliers in the world. He regularly travels to wineries all over the world to find exclusive wines for the restaurant.
3 Oakbrook Centre, Oak Brook
Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday
(630) 571-4752 or see seasons52.com
Updated: May 22, 2012 9:36PM
Rising from the shadows of Braxton, Seasons 52 debuted at Oakbrook Center earlier this month, featuring seasonally changing menu of fresh grilled meats and fish, local vegetables, crisp salads and tasting-sized desserts.
“Oakbrook Center is an ideal setting for Seasons 52,” said company President Stephen Judge. “The combination of upscale residential living, shopping, dining and entertainment provides a lifestyle environment compatible with the Seasons 52 concept.”
Designers set out to create a traditional prairie style décor with layered natural stone and warm woods. Rows of wine glasses, hung by their bases, define the bar area. The bar itself contains a built-in piano where performers will provide live music every evening.
The eatery, one of a chain that began nine years ago in Florida, emphasizes a seasonal approach to dining. As the name indicates, the menu will change four times a year with weekly specials to complement the offerings. Seasons 52 also offers gluten-free and vegetarian menus.
And here’s the reason even dieters can enjoy a guiltless meal at Seasons 52: None of the dishes is more than 475 calories. Aside from a selection of crispy flatbread starters, the restaurant serves no bread and uses no butter, a flavor challenge for chefs who often add a finishing touch of melted butter to mask imperfections in a dish.
Dinner menus include both small and entrée-sized salads. The latter extend the concept of greens for dinner. The Farmers Market plate features spicy snow peas, shitake mushrooms, tofu grilled with ponzu (a citrusy soy sauce) and almond tabbouleh. Tuna salad is transformed into a gourmet feast when sushi grade Mahi tuna is seared and served on organic greens and topped with toasted almonds and miso vinaigrette.
Inspired by a tube candleholder he spotted on the table one day, Clifford Pleau, senior director of culinary, fashioned an open cylinder of glass in which the Cobb Salad is served. Waiters place the cylinder on a plate before diners and then remove the tube allowing the greens spill out onto the plate. The first time he served it, “everyone thought that’s cool,” said Pleau, who was named one of eight new chefs to watch by Food & Wine magazine in 1991.
Dinner entrees include salmon roasted on cedar planks and served with roasted carrots, fresh asparagus and potatoes. A filet mignon is roasted over oak and served with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables and roasted mushrooms. Pork tenderloins are also wood roasted then served over herbed polenta and served with a shallot-Dijon glaze. Entrée prices range from about $15 to $26.
Seasons 52 has solved the dessert dilemma for dinners who’d like a bit of something sweet to finish a meal. Mini Indulgences offer individual desserts petite enough to savor without feeling guilty. Tall shot-glass sized desserts are layered with Pecan Pie with Vanilla Mousse or Key Lime Pie among others including fresh fruit.
The restaurant offers three small private rooms for parties that can be combined for larger meetings or showers. Smaller parties should opt for the chef’s table, a separate seating area next to the kitchen that can be closed off with curtains or opened up to the food preparation area. A large stainless steel table inlaid with glass boxes of colorful spices offers seating for 8.
The glassed-in wine cellar is located directly opposite the chef’s table and includes 100 international wines, 52 of them available by the glass.
Some wines are made especially for the restaurant said Master Sommelier George Miliotes, including a Retromarcia Chianti Classic. The menu includes five or six recommended wines by Miliotes, wines to drink “before they are famous.” Miliotes said he searches for small, impressive wineries in addition to the more established vintners.
Oak Brook is the second of five planned locations in the Chicago area for the Florida chain.