Terra – St. Helena

I expected Terra to be the crown jewel of our weekend dining, but it was just okay… with ups and downs and plateaus. This restaurant seems to be a favorite of many people in the Valley, but the food didn’t get to that level for us. The decor is beautiful and romantic, though; it’s in a stately stone building, and its stone walls are lined with wines. It has the distinction of having two dining rooms separated by a foyer in the middle where the front door is (take a right for the maitre d’, or you’ll find yourself wandering amongst tables on the left).

Terra Oysters

I started off with the Panko Crusted Miyagi Oysters with Pork Belly “Kakuni” in Black Vinegar Sauce, and loved the way that it made me perk up to its textures, flavors, and colors. The oysters were perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside, and the whole dish was well put together; I even appreciated the leafy contrast of the microgreens on top. After the amazing pork belly at Grace, though, this one wasn’t as luscious and light. It was a welcoming start, though.

Terra halibut

Chad had the special Halibut Sashimi appetizer. The halibut was fresh and nice enough, but the we weren’t told that every piece of halibut was matched with slices of mushroom. Chad doesn’t like mushrooms, so half the dish went to me. I like the presentation, though; it’s simple and fun.

Terra Cod

My first bite of the Broiled Sake Marinated Alaskan Black Cod and Shrimp Dumplings in Shiso Broth was heavenly. I was happy with the play of flavors in the broth and the cod and its caramelization. By the middle of the dish, though, the caramelized fish flavor began to be very oppressive. I felt a little nauseous, and I couldn’t eat it anymore. Even with the shrimp dumpling and vegetables, there wasn’t enough contrast or development of the flavor. Granted, I didn’t have wine with the course, but the dish should be able to stand up on its own.

Terra Quail

Chad had a special of Quail with Cheese Polenta, Beet Greens, and Turnips. The cheese polenta had the most flavor, and had a lovely smooth texture. The quail was a little overcooked, while the turnips were undercooked. The greens were just kind of there. The dish had an pervasive unpleasant offal sort of flavor for me, but Chad thought it was okay.

Terra Pudding

Woohoo, the desserts were both excellent, in an unexpectedly homey sort of way. My Chocolate Pudding Parfait with Cacao Nib Crisp was all that I could ask for — full of such smooth pudding that was just heavy enough while remaining light enough (not overloaded with yolks like some housemade puddings), great chocolate flavor, and moist, dense cake — I even loved the simple whipped cream and how well it went with the chocolate. And the crisp was a great bonus — almost like a chocolate caramel cookie.

Terra Cake

Chad’s Orange Mille Cake with Citrus Salad was fantastic. The last (and only other) time that I had Mille Cake was at Lady M in Manhattan. Terra’s orange cream between the crepes was a bit heavier than the light cream at Lady M, but I think that it matched the consistency of the crepe better so it was a more cohesive cake. Both approaches are good, though. The orange was a wonderful bright flavor, and the citrus was juicy and bright, too. I also liked the tuile bowties with the citrus salad for some whimsical, if very random, garnish.

3 Responses to “Terra – St. Helena”

  1. Dianka Says:

    I thought this one was just ok too. My husband and I were not overly impressed.


  2. Nina Says:

    Good to know that we weren’t alone. 🙂

    And I’m glad that I found your blog through your comment. I’ve been missing Europe and its food — those trays of macaroons are gorgeous!

  3. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » Cyrus - Healdsburg Says:

    […] The crepes were a little odd. I didn’t really like having to navigate my spoon to multiple places across the plate to build a perfect bite. The strawberry component was good, but after the sorbet and caramel of the Caramel Soup, I wish that the crepes had different components than the whipped creme fraiche and caramel sauce; there could have been more contrast. Also, the crepes themselves were rolled into rather dry little spirals; I liked the moistening elements between crepe layers at Terra a bit more. […]

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