Seasons 52

A concept restaurant founded by Darden Restaurants Inc in Orlando, Florida in early 2003. The menu is seasonal and is changed weekly to take advantage of fresh ingredients available in the area. Darden is also attempting to cater to the health food crowd in a number of ways: none of the entrees contain more than 400 calories and 15 grams of fat; No food on the menu is fried; and portion sizes are much closer to nutritionist's recommendations. Even deserts are under 200 calories each (not though any kind of kitchen alchemy... the servings are so small they are served in shot glasses).

The restaurant also utilizes recent wireless networking technology advances. Each server has a PDA which they use to take their party's order and transmit it directly to the kitchen via the wireless network. While this is not really all that new, the PDA-like units also can read magnetic strips, allowing the customer to keep an eye on their credit card at all times.

The overall impression the restaurant leaves is a very positive one, even for people who dislike Darden's other enterprises. The decor is a kind of Frank Lloyd Light and the menu is quite similar to California Cuisine. There is nothing really groundbreaking about Seasons 52, but the concept is well executed nonetheless. However, I do not believe that the best aspects of the dining experience will translate well when the restaurant is further developed into a chain (this is Darden's ultimate goal). The wait staff was extremely well trained. As anyone who has ever been to an Olive Garden or a Red Lobster knows, once a chain reaches critical mass, good service can be very difficult to come by. For the moment, however, Seasons 52 is a refreshing change from the chain restaurant wasteland that Orlando has become.

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