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Terra American Bistro recently celebrated their 20 year milestone with a fun 1998 themed prix-fixe menu created by owner and chef Jeff Rossman. As a verified restaurant in San Diego's Farm to Fork community, this place is committed to sourcing locally from farmers, ranchers and fishermen. In the past, our first taste of Terra was a slider during Taste of College Avenue 2014 and most recently, a short rib burger that claimed people's hearts at Burgers and Beer 2017. We were thrilled to finally sit down for a media dinner at this establishment!
Semi Charmed Life - semi charmed kind of forbidden rice salad with kumquat, thai basil, roasted baby carrots, blood orange vinaigrette
My grin stretched ear to ear for this clever Third Eye Blind appetizer reference. It was my favorite off the prix fixe menu and I couldn't get enough of this creative combo. The roasted carrots had a good chomp while the greens punctured the lightly marinaded rice grains, overall refreshing without overpowering. The occasional kumquats added a bright citrus to an already tasty dish!
98 Degrees - 98 degree smoked filet carpaccio, pickled relish, candied jalapeno
Parts of this dish made me swoon like a school girl. Thinly sliced carpaccio melted in my mouth plus it had a layer of sweetness from the candied jalapenos. Even when that spice hit, I kind of dug it! Pickles aren't my thing so I left those for Dennis.
The Breakfast - Irish Short Film 1998 - rock shrimp & corn cake stack
This is an oldie brought back from Chef Rossman's menu 20 years ago! I'm clueless about the reference though since I rarely watched movies back then or even now. I found the crunch of the veggies and the softer texture of the sweeter pancake to flow together nicely. These little mini shrimps were the perfect fun size for a bite too! It does get soggy if you take too long to eat it.
Grilled Octopus ($13.95) - lemon vinaigrette, arugula
We had also ordered the octopus appetizer off the regular menu. The octopus had a tender fattiness bite to it but I felt it was somewhat bitter from the char. Dennis thought it was less bitter than other versions we've tried elsewhere.
Spice Girls & Sister Hazel - cocoa spiced local fish, hazelnut & mango purees, curried carrot mash
Another throwback to the original menu was this fish dish. To continue my cheesy references, we all need a little something to "spice up your life." And for real, I just saw Sister Hazel at the San Diego Fair last year! Now, back to the entree, I believe chef said the local fish was capria (sp?), a mild white fish. It had a nice crisped up skin and the fish was flakey inside. Dennis never eats fish skin unless it is crispy so this was a GO for him! The purees and mash were overall a little too sweet, even for me.
Green Bay Packers & Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl - Super Bowl with wisconsin white cheddar & caramelized onion sauce, pancetta, roasted poblano puree, poached egg, shredded potato
I'm no sports fan but this is football themed! We really did feel the strong clash of flavors in this dish. One sauce oozed with cheddar cheesiness against the lightly flavored poblano cream but overall the sauces were too heavy. Plus, the fried crunch of the hash browns underneath quickly succumbed to the liquid moat. As for the big touchdown? Those pancetta chunks were hunky thick and that poached egg was viscous and delicious.
Bittersweet Symphony - bitter sweet chocolate symphony with molten chocolate cake & pop rock & rolling stone truffles
As they brought out dessert, we could hear the crackle of the pink pop rocks! What a fun candy to bring back from my youth! The gooey center was delicious and the cake shell held well but still had that cakey moistness. The truffles were nice chocolate bites.
Cast Iron Baked Banana Bread Pudding ($8.35) - bourbon butterscotch, whipped cream
Dennis wanted to try some bread pudding so that came out piping hot in a skillet! We were pleased that the butterscotch didn't sugarcoat our tongues while the softer bread pudding was delightful and moist. Oh what a mess you can make in that little puddle!
The restaurant wasn't too busy on a Tuesday so we had a peaceful evening as well as the opportunity to grill chef on his pride and joy restaurant. The menu kept me intrigued and I love the fresh elements. Congrats on a well deserved 20 years and counting! All in all, I finally knocked another restaurant off my to-do list and do hope to return for more forbidden rice as well as retrying the burger that caught our eyes years ago!
Disclaimer: We were invited to dine here and the food was complimentary. We were not otherwise compensated and all opinions stated are my own.
Terra American Bistro
7091 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego CA 92115