Because I had to be out the door in 45 minutes, the hostess at Seasons recommended I sit at the dining room bar, where I took the bartender’s recommendation on a Silver Coin margarita, and focused on the menu.
I settled on a seared yellowfin tuna salad for starters and, remembering the oak-fired grill that had mesmerized me on my last visit, a dry-aged New York strip steak that I ordered rare, citing my tight schedule. The bartender suggested that the kitchen do both orders together.
“The exhibition table is awesome,” I assured them as I munched on crusty bread with a bowl of herbed vinaigrette.
The component flavors could not have been more different, and the harmonic dissonance of their fatty, fruity, spicy and acidic juxtaposition was moving and new.
Perhaps the most striking thing about the view from the exhibition table was the fluid teamwork of the staff. Information passed through the extended kitchen area via shouts and repeats like synapses between neurons, and the entire staff, including the servers, moved as one. As the different stages of our meal exited the kitchen, they were delivered by several servers, ensuring we never had to wait for anything.
The highlight from the exhibition table was a foie gras special served with mustard greens, cherries, aged balsamic and coarse salt. The component flavors could not have been more different, and the harmonic dissonance of their fatty, fruity, spicy and acidic juxtaposition was moving and new. Also memorable, if rich for my taste, was the three-cheese pecan-crusted relleno. I’m always interested in dishes that creatively use New Mexican ingredients, and restaurant kitchens would benefit from more New Mexico-grown pecans. Another highlight was the pile of mushrooms that came alongside Shorty’s juicy sea scallops. Daringly large chunks of several varieties—including oyster, shiitake and chanterelles—were arranged into a pile of artful dishevelment.
I didn’t have long to reminisce about that meal before my seared tuna arrived at the bar. Three pieces of flash-seared fish the size of large tomato slices lay alongside a perky salad—frisée, endive and other fancy greens, blood orange segments, crispy beet shards, and fennel slices—drizzled in a citrus-soy glaze. A bundle of sprouts on the salad was ribbon-tied by a thin curl of carrot. The fish had a Chinese five-spice rub, giving it a sweet and faintly exotic aroma. As with that foie gras, the hum of contrasts was striking.
When you order something rare at Seasons, be prepared for the consequences. My New York strip looked similar to my seared tuna in terms of the proportion of raw to cooked. A puddle of black pepper demi-glace and a pat of Worcestershire butter on top extended the tender meat’s flavor in some nice, smoky directions, and the whole thing played off well with the velvety smooth Sterling Cabernet I was sipping. Roasted-garlic mashed potatoes and a skewer of perfectly al dente vegetables rounded out the mammoth plate, much of which I had to bring home in a box.
“Seven fifteen,” cautioned the bartender as I ordered a slice of triple chocolate espresso cake—I had to be out the door in 10 minutes.
“Seven twenty-one,” said the bartender as he handed me my check: $69.
For the price, Seasons is a place that most of us would reserve for special occasions. And when those occasions arise, you'll get your money's worth.