Fine dining is always in season
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.
It helps to have a drink when looking at the Seasons menu—so you can adjust to the fact that, price-wise, this ain’t no taco truck. And it’s fun to sip something good while you read something interesting, and the Seasons menu is definitely that. Truffle-potato pie, bacon-walnut Brussels sprouts, roasted-garlic-port glaze—and that’s just what comes with the blue-cheese crusted beef filet entrée.
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.
Despite the hurry I was imposing on the scene, everything was chill. The dining room was full of flowers and happy people, several of whom briefly joined me at the bar while waiting for their tables. A couple celebrating their anniversary seemed disappointed that their only option was at the exhibition table, which faces the kitchen.
“The exhibition table is awesome,” I assured them as I munched on crusty bread with a bowl of herbed vinaigrette.
Last visit, Shorty and I sat at the exhibition table with our backs to the bustling dining room. We watched as the pantry chef whipped out dish after dish of artistically plated appetizers, salads and desserts. Behind him flames flared up from a wood-fired grill where sizzling slabs of meat shared the hot grate with dented sauté pans.
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.
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.
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.
• Seared ahi tuna salad
• Foie gras, when available
• Pan-seared sea scallops
• The upstairs Rooftop Cantina for less expensive meal options
2031 Mountain NW • 766-5100
Lunch hours: Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Dinner hours: Daily starting at 5 p.m.
Rooftop Cantina hours: Monday through Friday starting at 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday starting at 5 p.m.
Price range: $8 (appetizers and salads) to $32.50 (dry-aged New York strip)
Vibe: California, in a good way
Extras: Private dining room, catering, music and culinary events listings at seasonsabq.com