Are you the kind of dieter who can avoid temptation at home but loses all willpower the minute you're confronted with a mouth-watering menu at a restaurant? Then you may well have found your culinary salvation in Seasons 52. Inspired by a brilliantly simple idea, the Florida-based restaurant chain serves modern American dishes with an emphasis on seasonal ingredientsand a calorie count of 475 or less per course. That doesn't mean you'll spend an evening toying listlessly with plain steamed broccoli and dry turkey breast. Instead, think flavorful starters like a tomato-and-blue-cheese stack (352 calories) or mushrooms stuffed with baked shrimp and crab and coated with caramelized Parmesan (302 calories). Choose from guilt-free main courses such as mesquite roasted pork tenderloin with soft polenta (392 calories) or chicken boccone pasta (434 calories). And then finish on a sumptuousbut not sinfulrange of desserts, including strawberry-and-mango cheesecake (226 calories) and key-lime pie (283 calories). There's a long list of salads and flatbread sandwiches to choose from, too, among them a wonderful spicy chipotle shrimp flatbread with grilled pineapple and fire-roasted poblanos peppers (it just qualifies at 474 calories, but it's big enough to share). Natural techniques such as grilling and caramelizing are emphasized to lend flavor without adding the pounds. And while you're perfectly free to undo all the good work by downing a calorie-packed bottle from Seasons 52's 140-strong wine list, the fact that 70 of those wines are available by the glass makes it easy to indulge with moderation.
If all this sounds like a surefire recipe for commercial success, it is. Since the first Seasons 52 opened in 2003 on Orlando's popular "eat street," Sand Lake Road, the chain has spread to four more Florida locations, and the first two outside of the state are scheduled to open in Atlanta this year. Prices are reasonable (all mains are under $23), service is chirpy and each branch is smart casual in style, complete with cocktail bar and resident pianist. For leisure travelers who want a contemporary taste of the U.S. without the supersized portions or the artery-clogging fats, Seasons 52 is a godsend. The locals think of it that way, too, by the way, so be sure to book. Visit seasons52.com
for locations, opening times and phone numbers.