An Anniversary Dinner with a Surprise Ending

Our third wedding anniversary—and 16th anniversary from the day we met—fell on a Sunday this year. To celebrate the occasion we made online reservations at Seasons 52 in the Princeton Market Fair. (Thanks Wendy for the tip!) With restaurants all over the country, they are noted for their handsome arts-and-craftsman styling, autumn ledgestone walls, awesome lighting, and an open kitchen—LOVE the vibe!

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A seasonal menu features designer ingredients, many of them organic, from signature flatbreads and mini-indulgence desserts to an international selection of 100 wines assembled by a master sommelier, including more than 52 offered by the glass—thus the name? They use only fresh, in–season ingredients and prepare them with rustic techniques like oak-fire grilling and brick oven roasting to highlight natural flavors.

Seasons 52 is a celebration of what’s good now. Seasonally inspired ingredients at their peak of freshness. Rustic cooking techniques that bring out natural flavors. And an ever-changing selection of global wines. All in a casually sophisticated setting.

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The crispy prosciutto and asparagus flatbread.

Seated within minutes of our arrival, our friendly waiter, Pierce, brought us menus and gave us time to review our drink selections. Finally deciding on a bottle of Tuscan Santa Christina red, we proceeded to scrutinize the food menu and noted that many surrounding tables were ordering versions of their signature flatbreads, so we opted to share the “Chef’s Suggestion” Crispy Prosciutto and Asparagus with melted Camembert cheese and chervil. We loved the thin crisp crust and the toppings were perfectly proportioned.

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While I often gravitate to seafood as an entree choice, for some reason the Oak-Grilled Filet Mignona trio of roasted mushrooms, Yukon Gold mash, roasted asparagus, with red wine sauce—was calling my name (and they were out of the Cooper River Salmon anyway.) It was the tastiest and most succulent piece of beef that I’ve had in ages! And I’m glad there wasn’t a deluge of mashed potatoes, but just enough to compliment the meat. Unable to finish my meal, Russ gladly accepted my offer to help me out 😉

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What did Russ choose? The Oak-Grilled Rack of Lamb, with spring vegetables, Yukon Gold mash, and shallot jus. It arrived gorgeously plated and grilled to a perfect medium-rare. As we enjoyed our meals, I commented that it was easy to hold a conversation as the noise level didn’t overwhelm.

However, just as we were finishing our dinners, a screaming fire alarm went off, causing much confusion amongst diners and staff, with some walking out, while others continued to eat—like us as we finished our last few bites. When it was clear the alarm was not turning off, everyone was ordered outside. I was dismayed to see many patrons just go to their cars without paying their tabs.

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Dining patrons waiting outside after the first alarm went off.

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The waitstaff and cooks congregate together as they wait for reentry.

It seemed like 10-15 minutes before the cops and fire chief arrived. After doing their due diligence and silencing the alarm, we were allowed back in. At that point I did notice a fire truck had pulled up out front. Once reseated, Pierce came to our table and asked if we’d like to see dessert, and I nudged Russ to say yes because I wanted to get a photo of the slick way they present the offerings.

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The police arrived first, then the fire chief and finally the fire truck.
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As soon as Pierce walked away, the alarm starting blaring again!! An audible moan was heard from the diners as we once again were ordered to vacate. While preparing to leave, Pierce asked if we’d care to reconcile our tab, so as Russ settled up I waited outside. One of the chefs was apologizing for the inconvenience and to reward those who stuck around, handed out $52 vouchers for a future meal. I urged Russ to obtain one also, so now we have $104 worth toward a future visit. And we were some of the lucky ones who actually got to finish our delicious entrees and bottle of wine.

That had to be an extensive night for them with a good number of diners leaving without paying their tabs, food cooking on the grill that had to be thrown out, and diners with reservations that hadn’t yet put in an order—not to mention all of the waitstaff that probably got stiffed. Well, we did our part, and it paid off handsomely!

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