dining at terra american bistro for san diego restaurant week
San Diego Restaurant Week is upon us yet again! This biannual event is a county wide event, spreading into just about every neighborhood in San Diego county and bringing with it the joy of a three course meal (for dinner – or two courses for lunch). SDRW is a great way to explore new restaurants and try out menus for a set price. There are $20, $30 or $40 menus for dinner as well as $10, $15 or $20 menus for lunch.
I was again invited to come out and dine at one of our local restaurants and I choose to visit Terra American Bistro in the outer edge of La Mesa. There was a … slight snafu… involved with my visit, in that there was a miscommunication and the hostess and manager did not know about my visit. Happily, the manager did everything she could to figure out what was going on and Stacey and I were able to enjoy a dinner here. Since it was all kind of arranged “on the fly”, they picked out everything for us, giving us plates and samples from items that will be featured on the SDRW menu this week (all of these are available on the menu – minus a few of the desserts).
[complimentary bread with chickpea spread]
We were offered complimentary bread by our waiter. I was hungry and immediately said yes. I am never one to turn down bread, in any case. Bread, I love you and all of your glutens!
The bread came with “chickpea spread”. Stacey and I quirked an eyebrow at each other and said, “Isn’t that just hummus?”
It wasn’t really seasoned in the same way that hummus is and it was a much simpler spread, so I could see why they called it “chickpea spread” instead. Not knocking it or anything – it was simple and good – but I wouldn’t have complained if it had had a little extra seasoning. Good bread, as well. Tasted freshly made.
[“the remedy” – house infused sage bourbon, ginger lemongrass lemonade, bitters, lime, splash of soda]
Stacey opted to get an alcoholic beverage, while I abstained and just got the ginger lemongrass lemonade, as mentioned above in the description. I had a little sip of this – and it was dangerously delicious.
Dangerous in that it just tasted like sweet deliciousness with barely a hint of alcohol. Maybe just a *tad* too sweet.
[salty peppery calamari – fried garlic, green onion and chile flakes]
I know I said something about always ordering calamari – very recently! – but I didn’t order this! They brought it to our table, put it in front of me in the prettiest presentation I’ve ever seen for calamari and I had to eat it. Had to!
All of the plates were split for us – so we each got our own little plate. This dish was served on a very cool stone/granite plate – more like just a flat piece of rock, really – with the calamari in an edible “shell”.
Stacey affectionately called it a “squid-ucopia”! And she even ate a tiny piece! She didn’t really enjoy it, of course, but at least she was a trooper enough to try. She also “sneaked” all of her calamari into my squiducopia so it looked like I didn’t like it… but I did!
The fried garlic and chile flakes were all kind of at the bottom of the shell thing, but I got a few peppery bites here and there. It was also served with a kinda spicy sauce that I couldn’t get enough of. It had a good kick of flavor and tasted wonderful paired with the calamari. I ate almost every bit of this.
[roasted beet and goat cheese salad – honey-miso vinaigrette, baby greens, toasted hazelnuts]
Our next course was a roasted beet and goat cheese salad. Stacey, who is allergic to milk, was very happy to see goat cheese since it’s something she can actually eat. We were both not thrilled with the prospect of beets though, and our plates kind of looked like this:
Well, mine looked like this. Stacey pushed all of her beets together on her plate and then said my plate looked like “Beet-Henge”.
I love Stacey.
And the goat cheese was really delicious. And creamy. And kind of dreamy.
[pot roast – mashed Yukon potatoes, local vegetables, truffle oil]
The first entree we got was this deliciously tender pot roast. The outer part of the pot roast had a bit of a crust and the inside was flavorful and tender. I especially like eating bites of the pot roast with the very creamy mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were perfectly smooth and well seasoned – very flavorful. The local veggies were all bright and crisp and there was such a nice variety on the plate – not to mention colorful!
[mahi mahi with citrus-soy glaze, stir fried vegetables, wasabi aioli, organic brown rice]
Our next entree was a mahi mahi perpared with a citrus soy glaze and wasabi aioli on top. I very much enjoyed the citrus-soy glaze… and I did not like the wasabi aioli one bit. But I don’t like wasabi at all – I find the flavor to be too overpowering and strong – all I can taste is the wasabi if I had a bite of it! I did my best to eat around it, which meant eating mostly the underside. Funny thing – Stacey really liked the citrus glaze AND the wasabi… but uh, she doesn’t really like fish. So she was mostly just eating the top with the sauces.
I also loved the brown rice – it had so much flavor from just everything dripping down on it – from the glaze to the veggies – and it was cooked perfectly.
Onto dessert! Always my favorite part. We got a little 3 dessert plate and started off with the carrot cake.
The carrot cake was really more like a whoopie pie to me since there was a BIG center with filling. The cake part was extremely moist – something I adore in cake, especially carrot cake. There were also no evil raisins to be found, which made me breathe a sigh of relief. The top frosting was not quite the same as the middle – it was a thinner consistency with similar flavors and the middle was not too sweet – and made for some really delicious bites. I really liked this take on carrot cake, which I still kind of think it should be called a whoopie pie instead for that stellar and incredibly large middle filling.
[vanilla bean crème brulee]
The next dessert was a vanilla bean creme brulee with a lavender shortbread. I believe the actual SDRW menu has a lavender creme brulee on the menu. I really liked the lavender shortbread that came with the creme brulee – it was especially tasty to dip it into the creamy brulee.
[banana pecan bread pudding]
This was the dessert that Stacey was looking most forward to – and the one that I thought was the most creative of the bunch. It came with a bourbon butterscotch sauce in the pan which was maybe one of the best things we ate all night. The bread pudding was moist and you could definitely taste the banana – without it hitting you over the head. You could really taste all of the elements separately as you ate this one – which made it really fun to eat. The sauce was incredible and the pecans just made for a nice different texture in this dessert.
Stacey and I were quite happily stuffed by the end of the meal. Terra has quite an extensive menu lined up for Restaurant Week with a whole slew of first courses and second course that come from both the $30 and $40 menu. If you haven’t checked out this cute little restaurant I suggest you get out for Restaurant Week this week to check it out! SDRW runs from January 13th to 18th, with many restaurants doing an additional “second week”. Get out and check the website and try a few new places (or revisit your favorites) this week!
Disclaimer: The meal, minus beverages, was complimentary. I was not paid for this review and all opinions expressed are my own.
Terra American Bistro
7091 El Cajon Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92115