1345 Railroad Avenue
St. Helena, CA 94574-1123
Terra is a one Michelin star restaurant in the heart of the Napa wine country, St. Helena. The owners also run Ame in San Francisco. Earlier in 2011, they added Bar Terra next door which serves more informal items.
Why did we here? – We haven’t been here in ages, and are working our way through the Michelin starred list!
Summary – Terra serves up sophisticated cuisine that shows how talented the chef is. We were impressed and like this better than their sister restaurant, Ame in San Francisco
Insider Tip – Portion sizes small, so order more courses.
Cuisine – American
Chef – Hiro Sone
Location – St. Helena
Opened – 1988
Decor, Vibe – Terra is located in a rustic stone building right near the railroad tracks. This restaurant is fairly small, with 2 separate small rooms decorated with modern art, beautiful centerpiece, and classic jazz playing.
Terra’s Menu allows you to pick from 4 to 6 courses from a large selection of items.
Signature Dishes – Umami bomb, radicchio salad, red wine braised veal cheeks, black cod, lobster tortellini.
Full Terra image set
Mojito ($12) was strong and well balanced.
Amuse Bouche of cold English pea soup with citrus.
Tuna Sashimi with Fava Bean Salad, Pickled Ramps and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette was very good with some well cut fish that frankly left us wanting for more. This dish was definitely on the small side.
Asparagus Salad with Lightly Smoked Ocean Trout, Dill Crème Fraiche and Trout Roe substituted a local salmon on our visit, which nonetheless proved to be excellent. Another small dish that focuses on quality not quantity.
Cream of Green Garlic Soup with Crispy Sweetbreads and Truffle Butter had several large shavings of truffles on top and proved to be outrageously awesome. This hot soup had light garlic flavors and was extremely smooth. The sweetbreads were soft nuggets of joy.
Heirloom Beet Salad with Local Goat Cheese and Toasted Almonds was another beautiful dish featuring very fresh beets along with some excellent cheese.
Foie Gras Tortelloni with Shimeji Mushrooms and Cipollini in Game Sauce was decent but not spectacular, nice tiny mushrooms and a pasta wrapper that paled in comparison to the next dish.
Lobster Ravioli in White Miso Lobster Sauce with Grilled Maitake Mushrooms was excellent with several lobster chunks on the side. The ravioli was especially good with a thin delicate wrapper.
Broiled Sake Marinated Alaskan Black Cod with Shrimp Dumplings in Shiso Broth is their signature dish and simply awesome. A savory broth with a slightly sweet glaze tender cod. This dish shows the cook’ s excellent style.
Grilled Liberty Farm Duck Breast on Grilled Peach with Elderflower Gastrique Duck Sauce was served medium rare and a bit on the chewy side. It probably should have been cooked a little bit more, but tasted fine.
Grilled Lucky Dog Ranch Dry Aged NY Strip Steak with Bone Marrow Potato Gratin was a tiny portion of super tender, medium rare steak that hit the spot. A slightly cheesy gratin rounded out this dish.
Assortment of Artisan Cheese with Fruit and Croutons consisted of 3 kinds of cheese, covering goat, cow, and a strong blue cheese. Walnuts and honey rounded out this plate of excellent cheese. They may think of focusing on local cheese like some other restaurants..
Chocolate caramel Tart dessert special with espresso ice cream was on the sweet side but still a decent desert.
OK: (Order if you like this dish)
Fricassee of Ezo Abalone in Escargot Butter Sauce with Abalone Mushrooms included 2 small farm raised abalones served in their shell. The braised abalone was still a bit stiff but flavored well.
Pans: (We would not reorder these dishes)
Service – Terra had excellent service with a friendly waiter that knew the food well, and make sure that very little needed to be asked for. Pacing was just right.
Value – Prices are not cheap, but in-line with restaurants of this caliber. They could have easily charge more.
Alternatives – The wine country is full of stellar options including Redd, Bouchon, The French laundry, and Etoile.
Verdict – Terra serves up excellent food in a romantic setting. This restaurant is a perfect choice for foodies visiting the wine country.