Sunday, June 05, 2016

Review: Seasons Restaurant Chef's Table at Four Seasons Aviara

California charcuterie and cheese plate
Last year we visited the Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara just as they were putting the finishing touches on a multi-million dollar renovation. The place was already great, but the aim of the renovation was to make the Residence Club a complete vacation destination with its own spa and signature dining experiences.

Read more: Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara Family Friendly Review

What we saw looked amazing. An ambitious culinary renovation was the centerpiece of a broader expansion of the Residence Club's Meadows lobby, spa, and gym.

But since they were days away from opening the restaurant we weren't able to enjoy it until a recent visit Memorial Day weekend.

I'm glad we were able to return because it was one of the best dining experiences I've ever had.

Residence Club

The Four Seasons Aviara Residence Club is located in Carlsbad, CA about a 45 minute drive north of the San Diego Airport. We've been coming here for years and it remains one of our favorite family friendly vacation destinations.

Here's a quick video overview:

Seasons Restaurant

Seasons Aviara looks exactly like renderings predicted it would - gorgeous
In 2015 they opened Seasons Aviara. From their website:

"Designed to be the culinary epicenter of Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, Seasons Restaurant delivers farm-to-table cuisine with an emphasis on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant’s California-inspired fare takes shape via multiple distinctive dining experiences including an interactive chef’s table inside the working kitchen, a signature one of a kind Kitchen Counter experience, and a well-appointed private dining room. Bask in the natural light with its custom glass ceilings and relax over handcrafted cocktails and a wine list featuring the best Californian winemakers."

It's worth noting: Seasons Aviara is a private restaurant for the owners and guests of Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara only.
Bar area at Seasons Aviara

Chef's Table

Our menu for the night (click to enlarge)
In my experience, there's something special about staying at or visiting a Four Seasons. It's like magic can happen at any time. As soon as we walked into the lobby it was as if everyone who was working there knew who we were. "Enjoy your dinner," was said with a smile from a clerk behind the front desk at check-in. "Right this way, Mr. Dwyer," and "welcome to our Chef's Table."

The Chef's Table is set in the kitchen on a long wooden table which comfortably seats 6-10 people, perfect for family style dining. The experience costs $49 for adults, $25 for kids - a spectacular value considering you can pay $20 for burgers poolside at some high end resorts.

Couples or smaller groups might enjoy the Kitchen Counter experience, which I'm told features a more adventurous on-the-fly menu. Either way, you'll enjoy the view of the pool and courtyard area of the Residence Club's Meadows area during your meal.
Chefs Table and Kitchen Counter
Overlooking the Meadows pool area
The Chef's Table is family style, which is a format I normally don't care for. Unless I'm dining with my family! Which I was. A few days prior to your reservation you'll be asked to select a couple salads and a couple entrees for your group. These choices are then expanded upon with the Chef's selections for the day. Here's a sample Chef's Table Menu.

As we were getting settled and selecting some beverages a little Four Seasons magic kicked in. Our server advised that he had a special beverage for my sister. It seemed a little out of the blue, but we were amazed and delighted they'd picked up on a comment my sister left on their Instagram about one of their signature drinks. The Four Seasons somehow made the connection between our reservation, my sister joining us [different last names], and the comment she left on Instagram - and followed up by serving her the drink she asked about. Impressive.
2013 Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Outstanding
The wine list was mildly California focused, but not exclusively. We started with a bottle of rosé Cava (from Spain). Markup was reasonable, I thought. Like this 2013 Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (pronounced FAY-luh) at $54. The wine was spectacular [93 points for me] and a at a very fair price considering the wine that retails for $34.

We started off the evening with a plate of charcuterie, cheeses, nuts and fruit. The California-shaped serving board set the tone nicely for the focus of the restaurant, and accompanying flatbread made for a very nice start to the evening.
For our menu choices, we kept things pretty conservative with wide appeal. The Caesar salad was terrific - the grilled and chilled lemons were a nice touch. The Strawberry Lettuce Leaves salad with compressed strawberry, manchego, spiced pecans, and lemon verbena vinaigrette was outstanding. Kind of reminded me [in a very good way]of the L'Occitane lemon verbena soaps they've had in the villas - a scent I always associate with Four Seasons Aviara.
Strawberry Lettuce Leaves salad
Between the salad an entree courses, the Chef's Whim was a delicious surprise. They laid paper down the center of the table and left us wondering what they'd surprise us with. Local Langostino Lobsters was my guess, but I was wrong. Check out the look of surprise on my 8 year old's face as he sees what's coming out. Priceless. Spoiler alert: If you plan on going there I'd leave it a surprise, but if you're curious check out this video to see what it was. Really enjoyable.
The surprised look on my 8 year old's face when he
saw what the Chef's Whim was: Priceless
For our entree selections, we went with the Grilled Wild Salmon with Israeli couscous, baby squash, and confit cherry tomato, and the New York Steak Frites with chive aioli and caramelized onions.

I don't have any pictures of the entrees unfortunately, because a plate of juicy steak landed on my lap while being served. They were so gracious about the accident - stuff happens. It says a lot about how great this dining experience was when I spent 10 minutes in the bathroom with club soda trying to get my clothes clean and it was still one of the most enjoyable dining experiences I've ever been a part of.

We finished up strong with an Ice Cream Party featuring house made ice cream with all the fixings. Tremendous. The kids enjoyed the meal as much as we did which makes me so happy when it happens. Reminded me of our time at the California Grill at Disney World last year. Everyone in the family focused on having a truly good time together. Can't beat that.
Ice Cream Party, toppings not pictured but were included
After dinner we made our way to the nearby poolside fire to chat and enjoy each other's company a little more. A true spectacular evening at a very special place.
Poolside fire at the Four Seasons Aviara Meadows

Bottom Line

Seasons Aviara is spectacular addition to the Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara. Ambitious conceived, masterfully implemented, upscale yet warm and inviting, family friendly, and a great value.

My rating:
5 out of 5 Stars: Perfection

In order to dine at Seasons, you need to be an owner or guest at the Four Seasons Residence Club. You can stay at the Residence Club by renting a villa directly from Four Seasons or by renting a week through an agency or from a private party. Learn more at

Questions? Comments? Ping me on Twitter @RobertDwyer or Instagram
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