Terra Revisit (Restaurant Week Preview)

Last Thursday we were invited to preview Terra in La Mesa with some other local bloggers and sample some of the Restaurant Week items they’re featuring. Restaurant Week starts Sunday, September 18th through Friday, September 23 but most restaurants extend for another week after. For either $20, $30, or $40 you can grab a three course meal at one of the 180+ participating restaurants in San Diego. This year they’re doing lunch at some of the restaurants so you get even more chances to get your grub on. On this night, Terra had a chance to impress and Chef Jeff Rossman put together a great tasting for us so let’s get to it!

I’ll admit with the quesadillas I had my doubts because I had imagined it would have chunks of potato to mirror a chicken quesadilla and wasn’t sure how the brie fit into the equation. But the potato was pureed and one bite went down after the next. Before I knew it, the quesadilla piece was gone. The chipotle honey sauce on top had a kick to it and left a pleasant aftertaste. Best dish so far. =)

Next up: calamari. The calamari was light and fluffy which was appreciated given the sheer amount of food we were about to consume. As opposed to other fried items which tend to be on the greasy side, this version was not. It also wasn’t salty and overdone. Green onions are always a nice addition for me.

There were two salads on the agenda today. The first had gorgonzola, cranberries, candied pecans, and a honey walnut vinaigrette. It seemed sweet at first, but actually mellowed out after the first few bites. As most things on the menu that I’ve sampled it was light and not over seasoned. I’d recommend getting a bite with all the different elements on the plate. They all work great together.

The second salad had goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts, beets, and a honey miso dressing. The pictures of the two salads actually look very similar so you may not be able to tell the difference right away. But after one taste you’d know the difference. Chef explained how he gets his products from local farmers and he acquired the lettuce from a farm in Fallbrook. He’d actually come out to check on us throughout the night, giving us insight on his food philosophy and the history of Terra. Use of goat cheese with salads for me either adds a lot to an otherwise average salad or seems totally out of place and actually deters from the taste. Sometimes there’s just too much added which contributes to these factors. But again, this salad had great proportions of everything included. The beets typically overpower anything it touches but this version was subdued and didn’t try to take the entire spotlight like its appearance would suggest. For me the honey miso dressing was just perfect. With each bite I wanted more.

And of course what meal at Terra would be complete without the famous pumpkin raviolis. The corn used to make the cream really shines and provides that extra sweetness to the dish that makes it rise above the rest. Wow. This was the favorite dish of the table by a tallied vote and everyone was screaming for more. It was smart they gave each person their own plate because we may have had some problems otherwise. I can’t say enough about it. If you only need one reason to go to Terra, this is it.

Onto the meat! The grilled flat iron steak tasted like a piece of joy. Seriously, the meat was cooked perfectly and melted in my mouth. Hopefully everyone else appreciates a delicate cut such as this. It probably was one of the best flat iron steaks I’ve had in a long time. I had to double take because I thought they did a switcheroo and gave us the wrong meat. They managed to extract 150% of the moisture and tenderness out of the flat iron cut.

Ahhh the pot roast! If you need a second reason to go to Terra, now you have it. Enter Stone Levitation to the party because it has many tricks up its sleeve. The hoppiness when cooked into the meat takes a back seat to the hints of toasted nuts and almost fruity or citrus-like aftertaste. As tender as you’d want the meat to be, it’s the closest thing you’ll come to a picture perfect date even if she left you in the middle of a dinner date. I’d seen the Stone Leviation bbq sauce before, and this further corroborates the notion that using beer in food is a good idea.

Well now that all those savory dishes are out of the way, the jiggle ala Kobayashi was necessary in order to make room for two more desserts. First was the vanilla bean creme brulee with lavender. Unique tasting, creamy and smooth, sweet and light…me thinks I just came to the conclusion I’m coming back here sooner than I thought. Anh and I never had enough room to try the desserts during previous visits, so the advanced moves of Kobayashi had to make a guest appearance. Good thing, because we may have missed a…good thing. You can torch my dessert any time.

Hahaha. I’m laughing because the chocolate ganache cigar was something you’d think only privileged or people in the mafia could have access to eat. We must have tricked them all! Yes, this was so tasty and great of a dessert a hit man could order it at a restaurant, have the money exchange, dip his chocolate cigar, and still look like he could do the job in his sleep…while eating a second cigar! I think I heard it was a 13 year old recipe and it’s times like these I wish I could go back in time 13 years and witness the creation of this elusive dessert that has been absent from my existence all this time.

If you can’t tell already, I’m a fan of Terra and they keep growing on me. Chef Rossman was out and about chatting with his customers in typical fashion and there’s something about the staff that makes everything seem right there. His passion is passed on to everyone in the building and you can’t help but be interested in what’s going on in and out of the kitchen.

See my previous post for my last Terra visit.

7091 El Cajon Blvd.
La Mesa, CA 92115

Terra American Bistro on Urbanspoon

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About Darren

Fooood! I love it if you can't tell already. I love everything about it. The taste, the smell, the look, the feel, the satisfaction, the gratification, and ultimately: the fun! I've been in San Diego for about 10 years now and it amazes me that there are still places to uncover. Traveling, eating, and taking pictures of food has always been a hobby of mine. So naturally Michael and I thought it made sense to share what we found with all of you. I tend to side with the savory but never shy away from a knock out dessert. If you have a place you think we haven't tried let us know! We're always on the lookout...

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