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:


[“beet henge”]

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! Continue reading “dining at terra american bistro for san diego restaurant week”

the trails neighborhood eatery / la mesa – san diego, ca

I used to watch Food Network almost non-stop. I loved all of the cooking shows – Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentiis. I picked up so many great hints and tips just by watching their shows on a Saturday morning. While I don’t really watch those shows too much anymore, I still enjoy some of the other, newer shows. One of them is Restaurant Impossible with Robert Irvine, sort of knock off on Kitchen Nightmares. I’ve gotten Jake to watch it a few times and he’s actually into the show now. When I told him that they had done an episode at a restaurant here in town, he was totally game for going and checking it out.

The restaurant in question is The Trails Neighborhood Eatery in La Mesa. I had never heard of the place before I saw it on the show. It’s in a pretty nondescript part of town, within an old strip mall in San Carlos/La Mesa. Driving by the strip mall, it really doesn’t look like much. There’s a CVS and a Keils food store which looks like one of the oldest stores ever.

Once you step inside though, you immediately see the homey, updated version of the restaurant. It has a really cozy feel with lovely colors and the images of the family throughout the restaurant give it a very welcoming feel.

We just happened to go the first time on a Sunday morning. When we watched in, they had the Food Network channel on which just happened to be playing their episode! We mused if it was a recording that the restaurant played, but the owner, Stacey, pipped up. “No, it just happens to be on right now,” she explained, with an embarrassed grin.

We ended up waiting over an hour for a table, no doubt because of that recent airing of the episode. I was determined to try it though even though maybe I hadn’t picked the best day/time to go.

[Cinnamon Roll Pancakes – Swirls of cinnamon roll filling and topped with cream cheese frosting – $6.99 / with bacon & eggs – $8.99]

On our first visit, Jake and T. shared an order of the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. It’s covered in a rich cream cheese frosting which doesn’t require anything else to go on it – it’s quite sweet enough with that frosting!

The impressive cinnamon swirl is done right into the pancakes, giving it the classic cinnamon roll look and all of that cinnamon taste right in the pancake. The few bites I snagged from Jake were quite delicious. The pancakes were light and fluffy with a nice bit of cinnamon goo in them. This would have to be something to share in my opinion since it is rich and sweet – but very good.

Continue reading “the trails neighborhood eatery / la mesa – san diego, ca”