at The Seasons Restaurant
Any good restaurant town needs a good place for a dress-up dinner, a nice place to take your best girl.
It doesn’t have to be five-star fancy, but it should be clean and quiet and spacious and tasteful.
Oh, and with good food.
So, on a Friday evening in Spring, I escorted my kitchen companion to The Seasons Lodge and Accent Dining restaurant, perched on a hill just east of town on State Road 46 West, overlooking the Salt Creek Valley.
A bank of windows along the south wall of the large, well-appointed dining room offers a view of the Valley and of Cloudcrest ridge beyond.
I ensconce myself at a window table, facing east, looking out over the little farm on the edge of town, to enjoy a lovely sunset, a good meal, and all the joys of ambience and companionship.
Ambience is the totality of the surrounding environment, the look, the feel, the smell, the sounds. As we are seated, I find all is satisfyingly in order—the crisp, white linen and clean, attractive utensils, and just a hint of something tasty,drifting in from the kitchen or perhaps well-stocked soup and salad bar.
We order some crab-stuffed mushroom caps from the appetizer menu and wade into the soup and salad, where I found a good cream of broccoli soup and a fresh, crisp salad of my own making.
Adding to the ambience on this particular evening is Sandy, a lady pianist, tinkling away at some old cocktail tunes in the corner. My companion and I have quick round of “name that tune” (she wins hands-down).
Between us we recognize “Unchained Melody,” “Sea of Love,” “You are My Special Angel,” “Johnny Angel,” “Moon River,” “Theme from A Summer Place,” “Falling Leaves,” “El Condor Pasa,” and “When I’m 64”.
The appetizers arrive and it’s time to nail down an entrée but I’m not really feeling decisive.
My companion wavers over the seafood selections— a marinated, grilled salmon steak with the house herb dill butter; crab-dressed scallops, orange roughy sautéed with wine, lemon juice and fresh parsley; or a fried catfish filet in the Season’s own cornmeal breading.
But, in the end, she opts for the Chicken Oscar, a meaty, tender chicken breast topped with crabmeat and asparagus and served with sauce béarnaise.
I’ve passed over the pork dishes—BBQ pork chops, hickory smoked ham steak, grilled pork chops, and “Roast Pork Diane” (rolled in herbs and garlic, oven roasted and then topped with a tangy mustard cream sauce).
But I’m stuck between the surf and the turf—a hand cut, grilled-to-perfection rib eye, sirloin or even filet would be standard, but I’ve got a hankering for some shrimp, and the Seasons serves them every-which-way—primavera, Alfredo, scampi, fried, Dijon—even jumbo coconut-battered shrimp with apricot sauce.
Or the scallops and shrimp…or maybe the prime rib….
Along with soup and salad bar and choice of vegetable, all entrees include a choice of garlic redskin mashed potatoes, baked potato, steak fries or rice pilaf, and of course no meal there would be complete without the world famous Nashville House fired biscuits and baked apple butter
In the end I go for the fried shrimp and half sirloin topped with onion rings and the baked potato and settle in on my salad.
A flurry of excited activity at the desk proves to be a young couple in full prom regalia, complete, apparently, with their own photographer (or possibly full-on press agent) in tow. After a few minutes of blazing paparrazi action, the flunky retires and the young couple, all smiles and gentle, innocent excitement, find their table.
It is nice to see a young man who holding the chair for his date. Who said chivalry was dead?
Our meals arrive, hot and tasty, and are so good and plenteous that we are forced to share copiously—purely for professional reasons, you understand.
The steak is perfectly done and the shrimp are hot and delightful. Best of all is my friend’s Chicken Oscar is creamy, tangy and lusciously delicious—(Why must I always desire what the other person orders?)
The piano tinkles. The young man makes small talk. Was I ever so confident and charming? The girl is heartbreakingly graceful and demure. You can tell they are having a wonderful evening.
I look out the window and study the dusky magnificence of the valley below and the ridge beyond.
We order dessert: I have the cheesecake and a good cup of coffee, she orders pecan pie with ice cream and feeds me with her own hand.
I am stuffed, lazy, and suffused with appreciation for mankind in all its manifestations and peculiarities. I take in the view as the stars begin to appear above Cloudcrest and the fog-filled Valley dons its nighttime twinkle.
The pianist plays “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”.
And I am profoundly satisfied.