Best Chain Restaurant - 2005
You'd never dream of setting foot in an Olive Garden, much less a Red Lobster, but that doesn't mean their parent company, Darden Restaurants Inc., is giving up on you. Darden introduced a high-end, low-cal restaurant this year that's drawing yuppies as inexorably as a Prada close-out sale -- Seasons 52. Here's an idea whose time has come: delicious, elegantly plated little morsels, grilled in olive oil rather than butter, incorporating seasonal ingredients, whole grains, and lightly cooked vegetables -- promising a caloric content below 475 per dish. Among those we recommend: grilled deepwater sea scallops, cedar plank salmon, and mesquite roasted pork tenderloin. Prices range from $8 to $21.75. And, get this: If you're vegetarian, vegan, or on any kind of fad diet -- like the amazing new chocolate and vodka diet (it really works -- call us and we'll fill you in!) -- Seasons' kitchen will accommodate you without flinching. OK, so the thimble-sized desserts, gargantuan wine list (more than 60 wines by the glass), and plush Intercontinental Hotel-flavored setting don't have the personality of your Aunt May's frayed living-room rug. But heck, it's even better this way. So tuck your oh-so-precious politics in your back pocket, relax, and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.