Restaurant Review: Terra
By: Susan Meadows
Published online: Friday, November 30, 2012
Appeared in: Pasateimpo
Last June, the luxury boutique
2 ½ chiles
198 N.M. 592 (Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe) 505-946-5700
Breakfast 7-11:30 a.m. Mondays-Fridays, 7-11 a.m. Saturday & Sunday; lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; dinner 5:30-10 p.m. daily; brunch 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturdays & Sundays
Noise level: pleasant despite oddly chosen, background music, Vegetarian options, Patio dining in season, Handicapped-accessible
In short order:
Four Seasons Resorts and Hotels assumed
management of Encantado Resort in June,
and Four Seasons chef Andrew Cooper
transferred from Hawaii in September to
, the restaurant at the newly named
Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe.
While Cooper admittedly hasn’t had much
time to prove himself, the previous high
standards that, under chef Charles Dale,
garnered Terra a AAA Four Diamond
rating have flagged. Some wine selections
are frankly disappointing. Both setting and
service provide reasons to visit, though.
Recommended: house biscuits and lavash,
green salad, scallops with risotto, halibut with
polenta, and chocolate cake with lime sorbet.
*Ratings range from 0 to 4 chiles, including half chiles.
This reflects the reviewer's experience with regard
to food and drink, atmosphere, service, and value
Auberge Resorts quietly
relinquished Encantado resort. It’s now Four Seasons
Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe — a mouthful that
references the historic Rancho Encantado, though only
the stunning location is recognizable to those who knew
it. Furthermore, Charles Dale, the executive chef of
Encantado’s restaurant Terra when it garnered a AAA
Four Diamond rating, didn’t stay long after the transition, and rumor has it he will open his own restaurant
where owner-chef Brian Knox’s now-closed Aqua Santa
used to be, though that purchase has not been officially
announced. When Terra was under Dale’s supervision I
filed it under “flawless,” for flavor, presentation, execution, and the little flourishes that elevated it beyond
most other fine Santa Fe restaurants. Chef Andrew
Cooper, who transferred in September from a Four
Seasons resort in Hawaii to head the kitchen at Terra,
has inherited a rather large toque.
The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts website names
no chefs at any of its properties, giving the impression
that they change frequently or are considered inter-
changeable. Previous experience with hotel kitchens
having a revolving staff door caused my expectations
to be lowered before I even tasted a morsel.
I wasn’t terribly surprised when our first courses
arrived looking ready for a photo shoot but proved
the adage about appearances being deceiving. Chewy
baby octopus, though cute, offered no flavor, while
accompanying roasted peppers tasted only of salt. The
dish was nearly saved by the patatas bravas — here
really mashed-potato croquettes that were perfectly
crunchy on the outside and boasted a tasty little ham
surprise in the unfortunately goopy center. The accompanying brava sauce lacked garlic; the romesco sauce,
though tastier, also played it safe. Crab cakes, crisp on
the outside and moist in the center, also suffered from
blandness. I resorted to the still-superior breadbasket
selection, which includes crisp, spicy lavash and
excellent biscuits and butter.
Fresh salads with perfect greens saved greenbacks and
proved better choices on a different evening. The small
Caesar came with tasty white anchovies, shavings of
Parmesan, and a flavorful dressing. An off-menu green
salad comprised a good mix of young organic greens.
Pumpkin mole with a flavor profile more like East
Indian curry than a traditional Mexican dish complemented a generous serving of crisp-skinned roast duck.
The accompanying “Aztec rice” — wild and conventional rice with chopped vegetables — suffered from the
same problem as some first courses: no distinguishing
flavor. The braised short ribs, a Terra specialty during
Dale’s tenure, came closer to former standards. The
tender, flavorful meat was served with good macaroni
and cheese, though the “whiskey barbecue sauce” failed
to suggest much of anything. Four grand, meaty diver scallops bathed in foaming butter atop an excellent
risotto cooked in the Italian style and boosted by salty
bits of chorizo and sweet corn won me over, however.
This dish and a generous serving of halibut with ham
and creamy polenta made me consider that perhaps
Cooper simply needs a bit more time in Terra’s kitchen
to reach his stride.
A signature sundae priced in two figures shocked me:
limp and tepid churros supported two tiny balls of dulce
de leche ice cream, all finished with a drizzle of caramel
sauce so scant it made me wonder if the kitchen was
running out of it. A dense chocolate cake served with
lime sorbet was more aligned with the price and my
A taste of the Chianti offered by the glass convinced
me to order the Chianti only available by the bottle;
the latter thankfully showed character, but it also made
me wonder why the former appeared on the list at all.
A Coteaux d’Aix rosé demonstrated less minerality
than I am accustomed to in this appellation.
Servings seem more generous at the new Terra, but
there’s less flourish, surprise, and precision. As time
goes by, Cooper seems to be reaching terra firma, but
the heights of the past don’t seem to be his goal. Still,
the spectacular sunset views from window tables and
the terrace, a refined ambience with a contemporary
industrial feel, and the excellent service are all good
reasons to go.
Write your review of Terra
You've read the Pasatiempo review. Now it's your turn to tell us what you thought of Terra. Keep your review concise, focus on the meal and the overall experience. Don't let your review become personal and always be respectful of the business and other users. Sfnmhome.com reserves the write to remove reviews.