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”

cafe 21 / downtown – san diego, ca

Cafe 21 is a cute little restaurant with two locations in San Diego – one in University Heights off Adams Ave and one Downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter. My cohort, Liz, came along with me to try out the stellar offerings at the Downtown Cafe 21.

After I finally arrived, Liz and I went inside and were seated quite promptly to begin our meal.

[purse stand]

One of the first things our host did was to bring us this little stand. It looked like a mini (very short) coat rack. He explained to us that it was for our purses and I might have let out a small giggle of delight.

How awesome is this?! It’s at the perfect height so you’re able to reach your purse comfortably and it’s always within sight.

Sigh. Love!

[sangria flight in a little tasting basket]

First thing Liz and I both ordered?

Sangria flights. Awww yeah.

You get a little sampling of all of their sangrias – six in all. The flavors: fruit punch, pineapple strawberry, strawberry balsamic, apple cherry, traditional and rosemary lemon. Liz and I both really liked the pineapple strawberry and I liked the rosemary lemon just because it was a little something different. Liz ended up getting my dark red sangrias since I don’t really dig the red wines, but I loved the lighter colored ones. Fun flavors and a great way to try all of their sangrias! It’s a lot of sangria, too, and you could easily share this flight with another person.

[baklava crumble salad – apple, blue cheese, baklava crumbles, honey balsamic dressing]

This salad had me at “baklava”.

It’s a fun mix of leafy greens with apple, blue cheese, baklava crumbles and a sweet dressing drizzled all over the top. The fruit adds a nice natural sweetness and the blue cheese plays a part in giving another texture and flavor to the salad. The blue cheese is creamy but not too overpowering – a very nice compliment. The baklava was not quite what I was expecting – I was thinking of chopped up bits of the sweet, crunchy honey dessert, but the baklava here was much softer in texture – it was a nutty, sweet taste, sort of like having a candied nut sprinkled in with your salad. I really liked it anyway and got my “crunch” from the crisp apples instead.

[mushroom flatbread with organic mixed greens / cremini mushrooms, organic heirloom tomatoes, rosemary, romano and mozzarella cheese]

I love it when people let me do the ordering when we’re sharing dishes. For our other appetizer, I picked this mushroom flatbread for sharing. Though… you can’t really see the mushrooms, can you? It was more like a “heirloom tomato and mushroom flatbread”, a little more emphasis on the tomatoes. Not that I minded – they did make the dish very pretty! It also came with mixed greens so we had some nice leafy treats to start out with.

Continue reading “cafe 21 / downtown – san diego, ca”