By Miriam Raftery (guest columnist)
7091 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92115
May 24, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – When Chef Jeff Rossman invited media members to a tasting at his new Terra American Bistro, I relished the opportunity. Author of the cookbook From Terra’s Table: New American Food, Fresh From Southern California’s Organic Farms, Rossman’s specialty is farm-fresh organic cuisine. He previously ran Terra Restaurant, a popular eatery in Hillcrest, before moving east just one block from La Mesa to have a larger kitchen for his catering service and be closer to local growers.
The dinner lived up to expectations, providing a flavorful dining experience that reflects the freshness of the ingredients as well as the chef's creative flair.
Seated at a large farm-style table in the restaurant’s casually-themed ambience, we began our repast with a spring melon gazpacho. Light and flavorful, ideal for a summer’s eve, this dish was created especially for those in attendance. I hope it will be added to the menu soon for all to enjoy.
Next came an organic farmer’s salad with locally-grown greens selected “at chef’s whim” plus a variety of fresh vegetables. The salad was a work of art, though I was less fond of the Kaffir lime vinaigrette dressing, which was too tart for my taste. Fortunately there are a variety of other dressings from which to choose next time around.
A locally-caught sea bass came served in a delicious ginger-soy glaze over stir-fried vegetables, including beets, with spicy wasabi aioli and brown rice pilaf.
Equally pleasing was the hearty Karl Strauss Amber Lager-braised pot roast with mushroom ragout, roasted garlic potato mash and truffle oil.
For dessert, Chef Rossman served up a trio of delicacies. My favorite? The fresh berry cobbler with home-made coriander ice cream.
There was also a flourless chocolate cake with balsamic caramel and a ricotta cheesecake with locally-grown organic strawberries and compote—alas the latter was consumed swiftly by our ravenous table of reporters and food reviewers before I had the chance to taste.
I look forward to savoring the cheesecake on my next visit – and much more.
Terra Bistro also had a pleasing assortment of wines, including some local vintages, as well as seasonally infused vodkas and tempting drinks such as the Strawberry and Mango Sangria and Ginger Lemongrass Mojito.