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terra malibu = disappointing

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went to terra in malibu to try something new. it was totally fine - but also disappointing.

first off - the entrance is just strange. when we entered the enclosed patio area (which is the front door) there was a small party going on in that room and it was a bit like - "oh, sorry for walking into your party". but - then you enter another door and it is the bar area. this area is very dull and has a few scattered tall tables/chairs on square terra cotta tile. it is noisy because it is right by the kitchen and the tile. someone found us and told us our table would be ready soon. we sat down, ordered a beer.

we were then seated in the dining room. this area was nice but the seats were a bit too close b/c there was no music. so we could hear everyone near us and it was a little annoying.

the menu was uninspired, at best. soups - french onion and squash cream; apps - gorgonzola tart; spinach/candied pecan/gorganzola salad, antipasti, cheese plate with candied kumquat and crostini, roasted vegetable with a grilled cheese and crostini.

the entrees were ok - an austrailian sea bass; albacore with black rice; roasted 1/2 chicken with mushrooms, shrimp and fettucini with garlic, tomates, olive oil, garlic, white wine; flat iron steak with garlic/gorgonzola fries; risotto with mushrooms; short rib.

we ordered the flat iron steak, the albacore, and french onion soup.

they started with an amuse - potato pancake, salmon and creme fraiche. this was good. tasted just like a hash brown - no flavor of the salmon or creme fraiche.

the french oinion soup was awful. it was served in a square bowl with the toasted bread topped with gruyere on the side. the soup was lukewarm. it was more like an onion stew than a soup. it was just entirely a bowl filled with grilled onions in a bit of beef broth. the flavor was entirely absent. it really didn't taste like much which is sad b/c usually this is a great dish.

the albacore was overcooked. it was supposed to be seared - but it was cooked about 2/3 through. the sauce was slightly creamy and had a yellow color which was unappetizing. but this tasted fine - other than the overcooked part. the black rice was not seasoned and did not taste like much.

the steak was the best dish. the fries were quite good at first - but the fries on the bottom were not cooked through. so while the seasoning - garlic, gorgonzola, salt - was fine - eating a raw potato is not great. the steak was good. it was basically seared and sliced into strips with a red wine reduction sauce. tasty - but nothing new. a few pieces were a bit fatty or had a lot of gristle.

the staff was friendly - if not a bit strange. one of the waitresses reset the table next to us for about 5 minutes - looking at it to see if everything was right. our waiter woudl whisk, talk very lightly and then disappear. i had a few questions, but he sort of just cut me off at the first one as if that answered everything. it was rather curt.

we did not stay for dessert.

overall - i was expecting a bit more. i guess this is ok as a neighborhood place (i'd rather stay home and cook for myself), but not a place to go for a destination.

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  1. is this place related to the terra in st. helena, ca? that place is fantastic.

    1 Reply
    1. re: trolley

      no relation to the much acclaimed terra in st. helena.

    2. Had dinner tonight for the first time. Didn't care for their homemade bread, but the appetizers was a "Sauteed Shrimp Scampi - over Tuscan white beans, oven-roasted tomato & rosemary" - and while that's not the end all of cultinary creativity, it is something I like. The shrimp was fresh, fat, firm, and cooked perfectly. It was well done.

      The main course however was a "Australian Barramundi en Papillote  28-
      sea bass steamed in parchment with winter vegetables and Israeli couscous,
      in a lemongrass-ginger beurre blanc". They were out of barramundi and instead it was halbut en papillote. Terrific. Halibut was fresh, firm and exquisite. The couscous/vegetable/beurre blanc was terrific.

      Hard to judge from one meal, but I'd say this could very well the best restaurant in Malibu. I will be going back.

      dtud lists Don Antonios as one of his favs. Use that as a reference.

      Charming place too.

      2 Replies
      1. re: foodiemahoodie

        "dtud lists Don Antonios as one of his favs. Use that as a reference."

        I'd forgotten that. Good point. We love Don Antonio's too, so will give Terra a miss.

        1. re: Servorg

          ha ha! thanks! i think DAs nachos could bring world peace. their chips are so freakin' crispy! uh. amazing. this is the only place i'm excited about taking the chips home b/c they are even crispy the next day and just as delicious.

          terra was not good - but we only went once and maybe it's gotten better. who knows. the space was weird enough to avoid -- there are too many other yummy places to go to be overcharged to eat on the land side of pch.

      2. My visit to Terra was just okay overall. Some dishes were mediocre, a couple of things were very good. It's okay if you want something in Malibu. Otherwise not worth the drive. And they definitely could not compete with those prices for "eh" food in another part of the city.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ChloeinLA

          I've been a few times and have enjoyed it. Considered it the best restauran in Malibu. But the last time I went - about a month ago - it wasn't the same. The husband and wife chef team have gone and that could be it. I had the fish en papilotte - which has been seriously good in the past - but this time, oh, only good.

          I can go ten times to a restaurant, but if it's off the 11th time, I don't feel like going back. I'll probaby try Terra one more time, but if it's off, it's over.

          And Don Antonio's - I think my point was not taken correctly. I think it's a mediocre restaurant at best. If someone castigates a good restaurant (which I believe Terra was at the time) while you laud a place I think is perfectly mediocre, then we just have to agree to disagree on restaurants.

          Don Antonio
          601 W La Habra Blvd, La Habra, CA 90631

          1. re: foodiemahoodie

            Not sure why you responded to my post. Because I didn't write anything about Don Antonio's, I've never even eaten there. And I didn't castigate Terra.

            Don Antonio's
            11755 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064