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”

la gran terraza / linda vista – san diego, ca

San Diego Restaurant Week is upon us yet again from September 16th-21st. It’s a great time to try out many of the wonderful restaurants in San Diego for either lunch or dinner at a reduced cost to help you get delicious food in your belly without making your wallet cry.

For preview week this year, I was invited to dine at La Gran Terraza, located on campus at the University of San Diego.

I have to admit, I had no idea they had a restaurant open to the public on campus.

The La Gran Terraza is nestled in the back of one of the buildings on campus, not far from the student lounge. Connected to it is a bar type restaurant called O’Toole’s. La Gran Terraza is in the back with the pretty, pretty view of the canyon.

Heather, my hot date for the evening, said she could see all of the way down to the ocean while I got mostly the canyon view. You can definitely hear what’s going on in the adjoined bar, but it’s still quiet and private enough to feel separated from that atmosphere.

[bread tray]

After placing our orders, we had someone come by to offer us their breads. They had a wheat looking one, a cheese bread, and a cranberry nut bread. I opted for cheesy and cranberry nut bread. The cheesy one was my favorite of the two.

[imprinted butters]

The USD imprinted butters amused me. The servers were quite good about asking if we wanted more bread throughout the evening, but without being overbearing about it. I like that.

[lobster martini / lemon soju, shaved fennel, blood orange-vanilla sorbet]

Continue reading “la gran terraza / linda vista – san diego, ca”

del mar rendezvous / san diego restaurant week preview 2012 + giveaway

San Diego Restaurant Week is nearly upon us again – and one restaurant is putting together a sweet deal for San Diegans to get out and get a great meal this September. Del Mar Rendezvous is celebrating restaurant week over three weeks instead of the usual one week and it starts this Saturday, September 8th and runs until September 30th. They have a special $30 prie fix menu and a slew of wine, beer and sake specials to go along with your special meal.

In addition to the special menu, they’re also teaming up with Uber for a $30 Uber ride. Uber is a personal driver service that you use with your iPhone or Android phone to request driver service in a luxury vehicle. I tried out the service when I visited Del Mar Rendezvous last week – check out the end of this post for my recap (and a special giveaway)!

[peek at the SDRW menu – see full options here]

I was excited to be invited back to Del Mar Rendezvous for more delicious treats and offerings. Since I’ve visited in the past, I’ll try and just touch and recap on the newer items I tried this time around. For this visit I invited my dad to tag along with me to try all of the delicious offerings.

[steamed dumpling sampler – 2 ha gau (shrimp), 2 su jiao (veggie) and 2 xiao long bao (pork)]

I adore dumplings in all forms and sizes and couldn’t pass up trying out their Dumpling Sampler which is featured as one of the first courses on their SDRW menu. You get 2 of the shrimp, 2 veggie and 2 of the pork soup dumplings for tasting. Having recently had really excellent dumplings in Irvine, these kind of fell short of my exceptions. I thought they were just okay – maybe if I hadn’t so recently had such tasty ones these might have seemed better in my eyes, but they lacked in the flavor department just a little bit. I’d definitely try the Honey Glazed Spare Ribs if you’re coming for the first time here rather than the dumplings, were are just okay. They not as soft, supple and tender as other dumplings I’ve had but they’re also not the worst. They’re just okay.

[three-cup chicken – chicken thigh meat, sauteed with fresh basil, garlic, ginger and red chilies served in a sizzling clay pot]

The Three-Cup Chicken is a traditional Taiwanese dish that is a restaurant week exclusive dish. This is a dish that the chef usually prepares at home for his family and also served only to the staff at Del Mar Rendezvous. This special dish is cooked over high heat to release the bone marrow and then simmered over low to allow the dish to concentrate all of the flavor into the chicken and sauce, producing a rich and flavorful dish.

This dish reminded me very much of my mom’s chicken adobo. The long period cooking time allows the flavors to develop and deepen and creates a very flavorful dish. The meat is fall off the bone tender with pieces of whole garlic cloves and other intense flavors. I enjoyed eating this with bits of brown rice to help soak up the flavor. A very hearty and tasty dish!

Continue reading “del mar rendezvous / san diego restaurant week preview 2012 + giveaway”