Terra (La Mesa)
A few friends were in town and they didn’t have much time so instead of trying to get into a busy restaurant in downtown or Hillcrest, we decided to go to Terra in La Mesa. This may read in a way that implies our choice was a downgrade, but I assure you this was far from it. The first time we went here we came on an impulse and ate at the bar. The food that night was fantastic and a meal that will be the bar of comparison for years to come. I thought that if the food we had that night was anywhere close to the level we were about to have on this night with friends, we’d be a very jolly group after dinner.
One unique thing they feature is a flavored water. This time we got a melon flavored water. I have a natural knee jerk reaction with melon flavored things like candy. I like regular fresh melons, but usually not artificially flavored things. To my delight, the water tasted good. The melon flavor was very faint and subtle. It had a nice aftertaste as well and didn’t overwhelm your palette. I’ve never really been to a place that gave this for free, so props to you Terra.
We started out with the organic farmer’s salad. This is a chef’s choice salad that they change pretty often. The salad dressing itself is typically light but flavorful. I’ve never had these ingredients in a salad before. There were watermelon radishes (pepquinos), tomatoes, red onions, a hard boiled egg, a pickled vegetable of some sort, and kumquats mixed into the greens. The kumquats added a nice sweet and tart flavor to the mix but I wasn’t a huge fan of the pepquinos. It tasted like a mix between a cucumber and a cherry tomato. The salad was pretty good, but not as good as the salad we had the first time.
Next up: bbq short rib sliders. Three good sized sliders, check. Awesome presentation, check. A healthy portion of bbq sauce, check! All of these were recipes for a great meal, right? Yes, but unfortunately they missed the mark a little bit. The bbq sauce wasn’t all that great and didn’t add much to the meat. It came out a little cold which didn’t help matters either. Empirehouse definitely takes the cake with their pulled pork slider. It just seemed a little underwhelming, perhaps given the high expectations.
Last up was the chicken fennel sausage flat bread. Now we’re talking! We had this the first time and had to get it again. It was amazing then and look mom, it was amazing again! What can I say, they can make a fine flat bread here. Perfect amount of cheese, great tasting sausage, bread was out of this world, and the sauce underneath was plentiful and chunky just how I like it. Oh and you can’t go wrong with fresh basil on top. Now it’s time to test them for a third time and see if they can be consistent with this dish. I hope so! I loved it through and through and would order it again and again.
Even though the sliders fell a little short and the salad wasn’t as great as the first one we had, I still am a Terra fan and will continue to go here to try other items on the menu. The experience we had the first time will never be forgotten and that counts for a lot in my book. Also the flavored water is exciting because they change it up and you never know what you’re going to get. Parking is a little scarce but there’s typically always street parking available.
One last item but certainly not least: the service is amazing. It was nice to see Chef Jeff Rossman schmoozing amongst the patrons and spending some time chatting it up. The wait staff were great. You can tell that they care about what they do, they believe in the concept and the food, and give it their all to provide you with a complete experience that represents Terra. I can’t wait to go back!
7091 El Cajon Blvd.
La Mesa, CA 92115