new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Seasons: Knock Out Davis Dining

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Seasons: Knock Out Davis Dining

102 F Street
Davis, CA 95616

(Braised Pork, Squash & Sage Cassoulet - not the sexiest thing in the world, but oh so good.)

We were in need of a nice place to go before the Doc Watson concert at the Mondavi Center. Being the appointed Restaurant Finder in my family, I located Seasons through the benevolent powers of the internet. We made a reservation immediately.

It was an unusually chilly night, and as we stepped out of the parking lot adjoining the restaurant, we were enveloped by the intoxicating smell of a wood burning oven - coming, of course, from Seasons. That's definitely an auspicious start to the evening.

We entered the restaurant and were quickly greeted and seated. Our waiter asked right off the bat if we were going to a show, which I thought was very clever of him. The restaurant space itself was comfortable and upscale without too-audacious pretension - I especially liked the huge photos of a seemingly Spanish farmers market on the opposite wall.

But of course, the food.

The menu is what you'd expect from a seasonal California restaurant, which is by no means a bad thing - plenty of locally sourced vegetables and meats. My father immediatley hit upon the reasonably priced ($35) dollar October prix-fixe menu, which offered a tuna pizzeti with anchovy aioli, a tomato and warm goat cheese salad, braised pork, squash & sage cassoulet, and a dessert of white chocolate sorbet with dark chocolate sable and dried cherries. I went for the appetizer of pan seared ahi tuna with carrot miso salad and shitake mushrooms ($9.95), along with the crispy calamari and argula salad ($9.75.) My mom, being a good carnivore, selected the mustard glazed pork with sweet potatoes ($18.95.) Our really very excellent server hooked us up with a good wine, and the meal began .

My tuna was a rather small portion, but beautifully presented, the dark meaty slabs of fish spread out in a fan across the plate. Combined with the crunchy salad, it was an excellent combination, although I found the mushrooms mildly rubbery. My dad refused to share his pizzeta.

Entrees came out quickly, and my dad was extremely pleased with his cassoulet - the pork was falling-apart tender and the squash gave it an excellent fall flavor. My mom also enjoyed her own pork, which was cooked with equal skill. My salad? The idea was good, but it was obvious that the calamari had been kept under a warmer for some time - it was rather chewy and a bit cold. The lime leaf vinaigrette at least had an excellent flavor.

We are not Dessert People, but dessert here was one of the more enjoyable sweet-stuff experiences I've had in a while. My dad saw the bread pudding with fig on the menu and immediately fell in love, pawning off his sorbet on my mother and I. Not that we minded. The creamy sorbet was cut with addictive and flaky chunks of white chocolate, and the crumbly chocolate cookie (or sable, or whatever you call it) that accompanied it was delicious. My dad's bread pudding fulfilled all his (admittedly high) expectations: it was rich and dense, cut with the chewy and fruity flavor of the figs. Maybe I can learn to like dessert after all.

Seasons is a wonderful choice if you're in the mood for a high-end meal in Davis - one where you don't have to contend with stoned college kids or patchouli reeking hippies. Despite the minor disappointment of my salad, we enjoyed the hell out of our food, both in its presentation and in its freshness. Our server was simply fantastic, and we briefly spoke to the manager, who seemed to have complete and utter control over the workings of his restaurant. The prices are even quite reasonable, especially considering the level of the food and the service you'll receive for your coin. Next time I visit, I'll try to eat at the bar- it's got an excellent view of the open and bright kitchen, and it's enticing to watch as the chefs line up all the dishes to be sent out in colorful rows.

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