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Seasons Restaurant is now back in flavor

By January 2, 2009

Enterprise columnist

From its beginning, Seasons Restaurant has been my Cheers Ñ the place where everybody knows your name, table preference and, on challenging days, the

ability to interpret a look of desperation

directed at the bar.

Jeff, the affable barkeep, is a quick study on facial tics and sends my usual cocktail like a triage nurse, stat! It comes before the water and I donÕt even have to ask. Bless him.

But restaurants, like people, are never

static, and for a while, I have to admit, some of the food was disappointing. Maybe it had to do with all the picky eaters in town. Seasonally reinventing menus of local, organic ingredients to please vegetarians, carbo-alarmists, traditionalists, or ÒsushiÓ buffet fanatics canÕt be easy.

Nevertheless, I found myself cooking more dinners at home and reserving Seasons for weekly lunch with my best friend. ThatÕs called affordable therapy.

Then I read about our cityÕs $4 million shortfall over the next two years. With the ability to project economic stability in the crapper, IÕll offer my novice opinion: ThatÕs $4 million so farÉ

(And to think my college dream was to be a city manager.)

According to Paul Navazio, assistant city manager, our largest revenue sources are sales of autos (down), gas (gratefully down) and restaurants (see picky eaters, above). What are we going to do? Sell council seats to the highest bidder? Place Sue GreenwaldÕs extensive hat collection on eBay? Annoy me with more downtown parking meters?

Since I relish our greenbelts, childrenÕs activities that donÕt require a 4.6 GPA, firefighters and police officers (despite my recent bust for a California roll through a stop sign), I decided to coerce my youngster into a

collared shirt and slacks and return to

Seasons for dinner.

Unfortunately, parting with his winter

uniform Ñ athletic shorts and unbrushed hair Ñ was clearly more than he and I could handle. With Slumpy-the-Tween in the backseat, I asked my husband to drop me at the curb. And just like old times, Jeff the bartender took the cue!

I started with arugula salad paired with fennel, grapes, walnuts, gorgonzola and a light balsamic dressing while my husband crunched Bloomsdale spinach, with apples, bacon and feta tossed in pomegranate vinaigrette. Slumpy,, now perky with his Shirley Temple, enjoyed a Caesar salad he ordered from the childrenÕs menu. Kids will find

several appealing mom-approved choices

because Seasons believes thereÕs more to vegetables than French fries.

Devouring every bit of my current menu favorite, a duck cassoulet, kept me from noticing what my family ordered for their main course. ItÕs possible my husbandÕs had something to do with lamb osso bucco with chard (he was equally engaged with his dish), and my sonÕs a vegetarian pasta, but IÕll never know for sure. Why? I was rather distracted trying to make my fledgling regurgitate the small morsel I shared with him without yelling, ÒGive it back!Ó

Seasons isnÕt shy on good service, flavor or portions. (And if it is, tell Crystal. SheÕll fix it.) Only my son had room for dessert, his usual, a warm Scharffen Berger chocolate brownie topped with caramel gelato and cacao nibs.

As a family ritual, I take it upon myself to be my sonÕs taster, ensuring that nothing passing his lips by way of a dessert menu is Òtoo spicy.Ó According to Slumpy (he reappears every time I make this sacrifice), my concern was misguided.

Seasons, with its new chef, makes special occasions out of our otherwise dreary times. As a more self-indulgent way to benefit city services, ask yourself the following question: Would you rather have higher taxes, or better dinners?

See you at Seasons.

Ñ Heidy Kellison lives and shops in Davis. Her column appears monthly. Reach her at [email protected]

Heidy Kellison

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