Much more than jolly at Springfield’s Seasons Bistro and Grille
By Paula Johnson
Photo: Brisket Tacos at Seasons Bistro and Grille; photo: Paula Johnson
Invited by friends Barrister Greg and Cyber Security Sleuth Elizabeth, PIP (Palate In Progress) and I ventured to Springfield to try Seasons Bistro and Grille. Open since 2008, the focus is on local seasonal offerings prepared by head chef and co-owner Doug McGregor and manager and co-owner Margaret Mattox. Both are Springfield natives who obviously have an appreciation of the agricultural bounty that surrounds them in the farms of Ohio.
The exterior of the contemporary office building we pulled up in front of doesn’t hint at what’s inside.
Seasons long and narrow space features a casually sophisticated interior with earthy tones, hardwood floors, and colorful acoustic ceiling panels and ductwork overhead. The walls are lined with artwork from regional artists, which changes regularly. In the front, the bar spans part of one side of the space with the kitchen semi open to the back. It’s not a large expansive space, but works very well. We observed that nearly every table was full as we were seated in a comfortable table toward the back. “It’s always a good idea to have a reservation on a weekend,” Barrister Greg notes.
Quality Over Quantity
Cyber Security Sleuth Elizabeth began with a favorite cocktail, the Chili Martini, while I tried a refreshing Red Sangria (both $7.00). As we sipped, I noted the brevity of Seasons menu: three appetizers, three salads, three steaks, and five entree choices. Our friendly server Rhonda delivered the remaining evening specials for us to deliberate over. I applaud a restaurant that limits their menu and resists the Cheesecake Factory Syndrome. The entree items were appealing, ranging from a fresh sounding Vegetarian Black Bean and Corn Tart with lime sour cream ($15.00), a leg of lamb with Tunisian spiced yogurt ($21), and my choice, Shrimp and Grits ($17.50).
Grill the Cheese, Please
My choice would have been the lamb if the special appetizer Lamb Meatballs ($16.00) hadn’t been offered. The meatballs arrived nicely spiced, tender with a little grilled crunch on the exterior, and a tangy dipping sauce on the side. We also tried the Shrimp and Avocado Stack ($6.50) and the Blue Jacket Dairy Gretna ($12.00). The stack featured a Korean chili aioli and soy reduction, and while not very spicy, the texture was creamy and the flavor pleasant. I would have liked to see a little more restraint in painting the plate with the soy reduction and aioli. The shape of the stack crowned with fresh sliced cucumber is nicely elegant and the overzealous saucing distracted. The gretna was next, and proved to be a table favorite. Locally made in Bellefontaine, this cheese is the non-melty kind, making it superb for grilling. It has a salty buttery taste, perfect with the dollop of fresh pesto it was topped with, along with roasted tomatoes and garlic. We enjoyed it on hunks of baguette, a kind of upscale deconstruction of a grilled cheese if there ever was one. I also tried a cup of delicious African Peanut Soup ($3.50). The menu states the soups are made in house by a “soup artist,” so how could I not order a cup? Tomato-y and spicy, it was well worth trying.
PIP, always a burger fan, was happy to see a Bison Burger ($13.00). “Flavor-wise, I really like bison, but it can be dry since it’s so lean. The chef managed to prepare it perfectly on the slightly on the rare side, and still sufficiently juicy,” was his pronouncement. And the shrimp and grits? First, let me say I would campaign for shrimp and grits to be mandatory on every menu. I’m not alone in my passion for this Carolina favorite. There’s even a shrimp and grits festival on Jekyll Island this month. I love the creamy pillow-y grits, sometimes slightly cheesy, as a platform for succulent shrimp usually topped with bacon or cured ham. Seasons generously featured five large shrimp with bacon, tomato, and poblano strips. The poblano was particularly tasty with the nicely prepared grits. I would order this dish again and ask for more of the poblanos!
When Only Two Will Do
Anyone who eats with me will tell you I am not one to skip dessert ever, and see no reason not to have two desserts if being forced to choose proves too painful. Which is what happened when I was confronted with the most quintessential of summer desserts – a Summer Berry Cobbler ($6.00), and one of my favorite treats, dulce de leche, in this case Dulce de Leche Bars ($6.00). Milk, sugar, and careful tending (it simmers for at least an hour) is all you need to make this creamy, syrupy, golden delicious treat. It’s the standard base for many Latin American desserts, even making its way up north as a Girl Scout cookie flavor. The warmed cobbler had a nice crumbly texture with tangy, tart berries oozing beneath the pastry. Served with ice cream, the heat melted it slightly and made for sweet/tart/warm/cold/gooey/crusty deliciousness. The bars were dense and rich, almost overkill with the smattering of almonds and scoop of coffee ice cream on the side plus a drizzle of syrup. Almost. Somehow we managed. (I did share with my dining companions, honest I did.)
Seasons Bistro and Grille is hands down my favorite Springfield dining destination. While it’s true the Springfield dining scene is limited, I am convinced Seasons would hold its own in a location with a more active food culture. I am looking forward to my return visit to see what’s on the menu for fall.
Seasons Bistro and Grille is located at 28 S. Limestone St. in Springfield. For more information, please visit or call 937.521.1200.
Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.