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Terra American Bistro Relocates to SDSU Area

Chef Jeff Rossman uses the herbs grown on his indoor hanging wall garden.
Chef Jeff Rossman uses the herbs grown on his indoor hanging wall garden.
Photos by Robin Dohrn-Simpson

The residents of the SDSU area, this writer included, are beyond excited to welcome this wonderful restaurant to the “hood”. East County does not have many gourmet restaurants. Chef Jeff Rossman and his partners considered this when deciding to relocate their farm-to-table restaurant, Terra American Bistro, away from Hillcrest. Well, that, the parking, the steep rent and the desire to reach a family-friendly audience. They want to be a neighborhood hangout, where you can feel comfortable hanging with friends, eating good food and drinking great wine or beer. To this end they have kept the prices affordable.

Chef Jeff Rossman is all about, yes, the current buzz word, “sustainability”. But he was about it before it became the buzz word. He subscribes to the Slow Food Movement concept of supporting local growers and artisans. He also makes it a priority to educate school aged children about food; where it comes from, how to grow a garden, how to cook the food once you pick it from the dirt and how to keep the soil strong, happy and healthy.

The décor, like the menu, is earthy with reclaimed materials, a large banquette allowing maximum movement of tables and a hanging wall garden. A large bar dominates one side of the restaurant.

The small plates are a highlight of the menu. For a reasonable price, ranging from $6.50 to $12, you can try 11 different dishes. We tried the pumpkin raviolis with roaster corn cream and toasted hazelnuts, also the smoked salmon and avocado toast, the bistro fries with garlic and truffle, Asiago cheese and chives and the beets and greens salad with goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts served with a honey-miso dressing.

The Slider Bar intrigued us, so we ordered the bistro beef (kobe and meyer blend) with gorgonzola cheese, truffle aioli and caramelized onions. True to urban lore about kobe beef, it melted in our mouths. Enjoy this beef with a sip of red wine… delicious.

On a subsequent visit with a group of friends, the table got very quiet when the food came. We all went to our “happy place” as we tasted bites of chicken and fruit salad with dried cranberries, apple, feta cheese and red wine vinaigrette, lobster mac and cheese and achiote salmon potato quesadilla.

Did I mention the lavendar infused crème brulee? It was an ideal mix of subtle flavor with creamy richness; the perfect end to a tasty meal. Just enough sweetness to satisfy the entire table. Sure we also tried the flourless chocolate cake, we’re not totally crazy.

The menu offers gluten-free items such as lobster cobb salad and vegetarian items as well, such as their most popular dish: the house salad, field greens, gorgonzola, candied pecans, dried cranberries and honey walnut dressing.

Chef Jeff loves to share his recipes. He posts his recipes on his website, where you can also purchase his new cookbook From Terra’s Table: New American Food, Fresh from Southern California’s Organic Farms.

I would be remiss not to mention the wait staff and backup support. They are extremely attentive without being overbearing, always there to fill your water glass with their unique daily herb-infused water, take away a dish or offer a suggestion. You can tell that they love their job by their smile and the way they interact with coworkers and patrons.

Next, I want to return for breakfast. The extensive menu looks unique and healthy with a mixture of tradition and adventure.

New location details:

7091 El Cajon Blvd., La Mesa, CA 92115, (619) 293-7088

Hours: Closed Monday

Breakfast Sun: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Lunch: Tues-Fri 11:30 a.m.

Early Dining: Tues-Sun 4:30 - 6 p.m.

Dinner: Tues-Thurs 4:30 - 9 p.m., Fri-Sat 4:30 - 10 p.m., Sun: 4:30 - 9 p.m.

Details »
  • City: La Mesa
  • Phone: 619-293-7088
  • Name: Terra American Bistro
  • Address: 7091 El Cajon Blvd.