Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Apr 21, 2011 02:35 PM

Terra in La Mesa

Hi There!

Has anyone eaten at Terra since it moved to La Mesa? My husband & I pulled up on Tuesday night and it looked like an upscale Denny's with a bunch of familys having we left and went to Kensington Grill. The menu looked good online, but I was wondering what the ambience is like as well as the food. Thanks!

Kensington Grill
4055 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. We went to dinner and breakfast at the new Terra and really enjoyed ourselves. Not that it was a very upscale decor (TV in the dining room) but your comment about Denny's seems like a cheap shot and I am curious if you are referring to the fact that there were a lot of families or if you actually looked inside?

    The restaurant is definitely sparsely decorated in a somewhat industrial manner, with stone floors and no tablecloths. Despite the hard surfaces, noise level was not a problem as they put sound dampening panels covered in burlap on the ceiling. Every table was either occupied or had a "reserved" sign at 5:30 on a weeknight.

    We were seated at a table for 2 with our 15 month old in a high chair and almost had enough space for everything. If it had just been the two of us, it would have been extremely comfortable. I did not feel like we were crammed into the banquette.

    Food was very good - the smoked salmon appetizer and short rib sliders were outstanding and the lobster mac and cheese was also excellent. I appreciated that they put 1/2 a tail and a whole claw on top of penne with cheese sauce and had veggies on the side so that it was more like a composed plate than a bowl of mac and cheese.

    Did not care for the texture of the pumpkin raviolis but thought the flavor was good.

    5 Replies
    1. re: JRSD

      JRSD I am so glad to hear from someone who has actually been :-). I was headed there last Friday but ended up at Vine Cottage instead. I have driven by a couple of times and have to say I thought their signage was a bit much, but at least you'll know they're there. I am heartened to hear they were busy. I want them to stay in business cuz there "ain't nuthin" much in that area.

      Terra has always done a nice job with vegetable preparations. Looking forward to trying some of their other offerings. The menu I looked at on-line looks a lot like their old menu with some alterations.

      1. re: DiningDiva

        Seriously, between Terra, Antica and Vine Cottage, there is actually a CHOICE of good places to go to. I am starting to feel spoiled.

        1. re: JRSD

          Has Antica dropped their price points at all. I really like them, but I never seem to get out for less than about $30-35, and for a weeknight that's a bit higher than I want to go.

          You get to the western part of Del Cerro/Allied Gardens/San Carlos and there isn't much to choose from <sigh>. The Trails could have taken some pointers from Vine Cottage in how to structure (and execute) a decent menu. The Fish Merchant struggles at times other than their $2 off early bird, plus that space was uncomfortable when it was Tivoli's and it's still uncomfortable.

          Oh well...poco a poco, perhaps we will see some transition

          Fish Merchant
          7005 Navajo Rd, San Diego, CA 92119

        2. re: DiningDiva

          Not yet....the area of 7300 El Cajon Bl is the new 30th and University...

          1. re: Dagney

            I think you're right, all sorts of new stuff going in. Pub Cakes, Treehouse Coffee and Terra to start. According to the Mission Trails Courier there's a new Italian place going in. But it looks like most of that strip mall by Terra is still pretty inactive. Time will tell.

      2. I had dinner tonight at Terra. It's about as far away from Denny's as you can get. It doesn't look, feel or taste like Denny's.

        For only being open 2 weeks they were slammed on a Friday night. Every seat at the bar taken, every table full, with people waiting. I never saw them this busy at the Hillcrest location. The menu is very similar to the one they were running in Hillcrest with a few modification. There are more small plates, and those don't come with a lot of extras or plate garnish. They're still doing gluten free meals and they're still paying close attention to vegetables. There is even a veg plate of the day.

        I asked for a dry Manhattan (dry vermouth vs. sweet vermouth) on the rocks, and it was a great drink. We had 3 small plates and each one was very well executed.

        We had the tater tots with cheddar, scallions and jalapeño Ranch dressing. I was pretty convinced that for $7 we'd be getting frozen tater tots smoothered in too much shredded cheddar with a scattering of chopped green onion and a little 2oz souffle dish of ranch as a dip. Not. Tater tots is a misnomer, it was more like cream cheddar mashed potatoe croquettes (but tater tots has better flair on the menu than croquette) with flecks of scallion, breaded and deep fried and topped with the jalapeño ranch. They were seriously good. I'd order them again in a heartbeat and I wouldn't share.

        The fish taco small plate was delicious. 3 street taco size corn tortillas topped with battered and expertly fried mahi-mahi with the usual cabbage and pico. For $9 I thought it was a good value. It also came with a small pool of well seasoned black beans.

        The skirt steak small plate is pretty spartan, not in size, but in presentation. Small plate, spicy black beans topped with grilled, sliced skirt steak and some pico. The steak of cooked as requested - medium rare and tender. The portion is actually a nice size and the combintion of the beef and spicy black beans pretty easy to eat.

        The food was excellent, the service was very good, both things Terra did pretty well in their Hillcrest location. The big difference is the noise level. When the room is full, it is noisy, no way around it.

        In spite of the noise, I liked the new Terra a lot and plan to go back frequently.

        6 Replies
        1. re: DiningDiva

          Aren't you going to get in trouble for typing "tater tots"?

          1. re: Fake Name

            I probably won't, but Chef Jeff might ;-)

            1. re: Fake Name

              Thank you for not calling me out on the Quayle faux pas "e" on the end of potato

            2. re: DiningDiva

              DD, tried the place for the first time, and I like the food. The tater tots were the best. I also had the apetizer skirt stake and was very good, I especially liked the spicy beans. Wife enjoyed the lobster mac and cheese, not prepared how we expected, however she really liked it.

              Not too fond of the cocktails as I find them too sweet, not something that would open up the appetite. But next time I will go for the wine, as I found the prices quite reasonable.

              One complaint is the pace of the servings. While our first plates were being cleared, they showed up with the 2nd courses. Lesson learned, will just let them know to give us 10-15 minutes between courses. But this is a problem with most restaurants. Heck, this past Thursday I had a meal at Gary Danko in SF and everything feeled rushed. You can look at my reviews and read the one on GD.

              Two restaurants in SD that have fantastic pace for the courses are Addison and Mille Fleurs.

              Mille Fleurs
              6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Sante Fe, CA 92067

              1. re: 4wino

                4Wino, one of the reasons I ordered a dry Manhattan is because the cocktails, while creativ,e didn't turn my crank. The vast majority of them were vodka based and the rest rum. I'm not a fan of vodka, I do like rum, but not in the cocktail combinations offered. I can see why some trendy spots have started banning vodka, it must be the short ribs of the old stand-by that is over worked, over used and getting tired. My Manhattan was very good, but I was also very clear in how I ordered it, a good bartender would have been hard put to screw it up :-)

                They were absolutely slammed when we got there a little after 6 pm on Friday. They'd had a big party come in earlier and were trying to cope with it. They were pretty up front with us that the kitchen had gotten behind and they weren't taking orders until they caught up. I appreciated the candor, I'm not sure I really needed to know that tho'. The pacing on our meal was actually pretty good. We did the tots first and it was probably 5-10 minutes before our other plates arrived. Whether that was by design or the kitchen was still catching up I can't say. The floor manager was really working to manage the tables. They were pretty close to "turn and burn" due to the volume of business they had. Even though they were packed and needing tables, no one asked us if we were almost done so they could turn the table.

                My single biggest complaint about the new Terra is the noise level. It was loud and those funky baffles on the ceiling don't do a lot to absorb the noise. I think Chef Jeff needs to go back to the drawing board on that one. He's got the food piece wired, and I think service will settle in once the opening looky-lou crowd thins out, if he could solve the noise level, it'll be a much needed addition to the area.

            3. Thanks for the info Diva! Maybe Tuesday night was just an off thing....I shouldin't listen to the hubby! He was like you're going in there dressed like that! Food sounds great. I always liked them in Hicrest! Just seemed like a weired local. We will go back!!

              1 Reply
              1. re: pab

                It *is* a weird location and his sign is a bit tacky.

              2. I live not far from you in Santee,I'll have to give Terra a try:)

                1. Not crazy about lobster or shellfish in general, but every Friday they run a special on whole Maine lobster for $19.99. Wife tried it, and it was a big one.

                  2 Replies