Season 52 (Boca) – Stick with the Flatbreads and Desserts

Another year…another return visit.

This restaurant really has the formula perfected. It is not great food, but the formula creates a great atmosphere to enjoy not bad food…stick with the flatbreads and the desserts and manage your expectations with the entrées.

We were given a table in the bar area and I would strongly recommend not sitting in this room if you wish to carry on a conversation. The piano player was performing covers to soft rock classics and was capable of ruining each version with his loud interpretation. These songs sold millions of copies, try to stay somewhat true to form. When he was on break, it was incredibly pleasant.

We ordered two flatbreads, the “Roasted Roma Tomato” with fresh mozzarella cheese, Parmesan and ribbons of basil as well as the “Artichoke & Laura Chenel Goat Cheese” with leaf spinach, balsamic onions and roasted peppers to share. This year they were perfectly prepared and I should have read my previous reviews and ordered a few for my entrée. The tomatoes were sweet and just a touch of cheese added a little saltiness. The artichokes were vinegary (probably out of a jar) but it still delivered great flavor. This year the flatbreads were crispy, as they should be.

For my entrée I ordered the “Lemon and Herb Roasted Whole” with Meyer lemon, thyme, broccolini and crushed roasted potatoes. The fish was overcooked and dried out. The cavity was stuffed with lemon slices, thyme and a bay leaf and these did impart flavor into the fish. The potatoes were somewhat tasteless, well prepared but would have benefited from a little seasoning. The broccolini was delicious…it was the best part of the dish.

My wife ordered the “Shrimp Scampi Skillet” with roasted plum tomatoes, parsley and garlic butter served over bruschetta. This is not a good description. This was incredibly unappetizing and was more bread, shrimp and red sauce. The idea that the red sauce on top of the medium sized shrimp was roasted plum tomatoes is imaginary versus reality.

Dessert is always fun at Seasons 52 with the visual menu and the small sizes. I ordered a chocolate and a carrot cake. The carrot cake was good but nothing special but the chocolate dessert was spectacular.

Service was friendly but the server made a major blunder. All but one in our group (my wife) was finished with their entrée. The server arrived and asked if we wanted dessert. Two people (I was one of these two) told him that we were not all finished. His response was to begin removing dishes, including my wife’s and she was still eating. That was unforgiveable. In the car home my wife and I both agreed that we should have ordered a few flatbreads and desserts and she was floored by the actions of the server.

Overall it was a fun evening, but the kitchen needs to focus on menu descriptions and not overcooking the entrees.
Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

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Chops Lobster Bar (Boca Raton) – Bad Night Personified

It was an interesting visit to Chops Lobster House in Boca Raton, and it was not because everything was perfect and delicious, quite the opposite. Other than the General Manager who finally handled the situation in a brilliantly professional manner, each of the other stops in our visit were more sink-holes than successes.

Atmosphere – Oustanding. Almost a clone of the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station in NYC. Soft lighting, and a beautifully designed interior gave the impression that you were about to experience a wonderful dining experience. Each of the staff was dressed in ties and it was a delightful throwback to the NY Steak House era. I give major points to the designer of the space and the entire decor.

Food – Basically inedible. This is one of the most expensive menus you will find with entrées hovering from $25-60 in the a la carte section, but they offer a very well-priced fixed price $49 three course menu during the week. The choices on this menu are excellent and a great option if you would like a more reasonably priced dinner with smaller portions. I ordered the fixed price with French Onion Soup, the 12-oz lamb chop with a side of Brussels sprouts and mushrooms, plus the NY Cheesecake with fresh local strawberries. The soup was presented in a tureen, topped with melted cheese and the presentation was very nice. The rendition was not. The cheese was not a nutty Gruyere that I expected but was a milder combination of other cheeses and the broth lacked any depth of flavor. It was a bland interpretation. The lamb chop was plopped on the dish. Cutting this mound of meat was next to impossible and I asked if they could assist and they returned the chop to the kitchen where it separated the meat from the bone. When it returned there was a total of 2-3 ounces of meat plus an enormous bone. I then understood why my knife was struggling, it was not designed to cut bone. The meat on the filet side was excellent but a meagerly two bites and the strip side was so tough and I could not cut it with my steak knife. The Brussels sprouts were inedible, overly salted and way too much garlic. For others at the table the news was not much better. Almost all of the steaks were overcooked and I will withhold comments on a fried lobster tail. The Cheesecake was delicious (better than the chocolate cake) and was the best part of the evening.

Services – Abysmal. As much as the server was pleasant at the beginning of the meal in taking drink orders and explaining the specials, he failed miserably thereafter. The runners delivered most of the dishes to the wrong guest and we did a carousel to place the correct dish in front of the correct guest. One order of Petite Filet (requested pink inside) was delivered as a Surf and Turf. When we mentioned this to he server he argued with us that we ordered the S&T, not once, but three times. Then he told us to move the lobster tail aside and just eat the steak. Really? He finally acquiesced and re-fired the dish. Round 2 of that order arrived well-well, but everyone else was almost finished and we wanted to salvage some form of group dinner. Two of the other filets were also overcooked and one was sent back. It was a very staggered dining experience for the table. The runners constantly rushed around our table bumping my chair, I spoke to the MOD and asked him to tell the servers to stop, they continued to bump my chair and I need to tell each of them to please stop. One on them was incredibly unprofessional after this and aggressively grabbed plates from the table and gave me “that look” and then he slammed the dirty dishes into the dirty dish bin. When the server finally returned for coffee / tea orders, he only asked the people who did not send food back for their orders, neglecting the rest of the table. I struggle remembering a worse group of servers.

Management – Other than the General Manager, they were unhelpful. The people at the hostess station and the Manger on Duty nodded a lot and did nothing. Finally the General Manager stepped in (on my third visit) and she was fantastic, finally someone who cared and understood the hospitality business. She saw how badly her staff treated us, how horribly the kitchen prepared the meals and did the appropriate course of action, removed the meals from the bill. The top of the pyramid was the sole bright spot in the staff and she was fantastic.

Overall it was a horrible visit to what is supposed to be a great restaurant. Restaurants can have off nights, I understand, and how they handle the situation is important. The serving and kitchen staffs failed miserable on numerous occasions, and the only saving grace was the General Manager who I believe was truly flabbergasted in the horrific actions of so many of her staff.

Chops Lobster Bar on Urbanspoon