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265 Davenport Rd.
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Terra Restaurant - Fine Dining North of the Core.

Review: You're in for a treat at Terra

By Stephanie Dickison, reviewed on January 12, 2009

It's Friday night in Thornhill and this place is hopping. The darkened room is filled with table of friends, families and couples enjoying a romantic meal. A trio plays jazz standards and will soon be followed by a DJ scheduled to entertain the late-night crowd. Laughter...

It's Friday night in Thornhill and this place is hopping. The darkened room is filled with table of friends, families and couples enjoying a romantic meal. A trio plays jazz standards and will soon be followed by a DJ scheduled to entertain the late-night crowd. Laughter peals out and glasses clink as my companion and I sit in a cozy banquette in the front; i.e., the most requested spot in the restaurant.

Terra Restaurant & Catering is a destination restaurant for those who want good food in a fine dining setting without stuffiness or airs of entitlement. Here it's just about good food and a good time-guaranteed.

The menu changes daily and offers an impressive array of choices along with a wine list that boasts its own table of contents page.

My fella and I take some time oohing and aahing over the selections. We are tempted by the Osetra Caviar ($300), but we chose an assorted half dozen of Fresh Oysters instead. For $19.95 the oysters arrive labeled with a little fortune cookie-like slip that lists the oyster's name and region. Served à la carte on top of shaved ice, with lemon, lime, freshly grated horseradish and a selection of signature oyster sauces (spicy chilli, cocktail and shallot vinaigrette), we shared a tantalizing array that included the cucumber-y Merigomish from New Brunswick as well as, the firm and salty, Winnanos from Massachusetts .

Not long afterwards, we tuck into the Assorted Appetizer Platter (for two persons or more-$23.95 per person). It is a stunning selection complete with vine-ripened tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella salad with roasted garlic, torn basil, reduced balsamic and basil oil; grilled prawns and scallops with Thai mango-cucumber-red onion salad; seared Ahi tuna (served blue-rare) with honey-wasabi, soya glaze, mango-papaya salsa and bonito flakes; grilled quails with red wine jus; sautéed wild mushrooms and arugula salad.

If it sounds like a lot, that's because it is. Regardless of size, the platter is a thrilling journey-high-spirited tomatoes alight off the plate, gigantic prawns and scallops are succulent, ahi tuna lingers and seduces while the quails' rich dark meat begs the question, why can't these suckers be bigger?

For mains, my fella gets the ostrich and I get the veal.

Grilled ostrich fan ($45.95) is served medium-rare with mushroom risotto, spinach, sugar snap peas, cauliflower, and red wine jus. The fan fillet is from the upper, inner thigh of the bird and is incredibly deep in colour, smooth in texture and delectably tender. Although the menu does change daily, ostrich can always be found on the menu.

The Grilled Provimi Veal T-Bone ($39.95) also comes with mushroom risotto and fresh spring sides-asparagus, garlic spinach, baby carrots, candy cane beets, and porcini mushroom jus.
Both mains fill and delight us. Rich meats are delicately handled so that every ounce is juicy and full of fresh flavour. The creamy risotto soothes and comforts while the tender vegetables taste like they were harvested only moments ago-this is what you want your dinner to be like every night.

Despite a full house, dishes are served noticeably fast. The service is impeccable and the kitchen is keeping up, despite everything being made to order. The many rooms are full tonight, including the three private dining rooms (Jackson, daVinci, and Gibson); the main dining room; the patio and the sultry Tapas & Oyster Bar-Lounge. This is where you want to be if you're looking for a new and exciting place to have lunch, to throw a party or to cater your upcoming event .
The restaurant has been open for 16 years and they have built up a reliable group of regulars. Ian Chase and Executive Chef Stephen Perrin are both co-owners who took over the restaurant in 1995. There have been a lot of changes since then, but Ian says, "the community supported [us]. We put in a patio and wooden deck with fireplaces."

My favourite section is the open kitchen where you can see Stephen and his staff working at lightning speed-12 chefs are on the line every night. Stephen has been cooking for decades now (Toronto's North 44 as well as Est Est Est in Manchester, UK) and he enjoys changing the menu daily in order to keep everything seasonal, fresh and exciting. He also loves game, which is why you'll often find bison, venison, or caribou on the menu.

"The ostrich and lamb have become my signatures," Stephen says. And though he has tried a number of times, he can't take the pan-fried gnocchi, chicken and mashed potatoes, chocolate torte or the crème brûlée off the menu - the demand is too high.

But is it any wonder? It is this varied menu that ensures Terra is a magical experience, year round.
Finally, a place where high-end fine dining also means fun.

Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
All meals are paid for, including all taxes and gratuities. All reservations are made under assumed names. Menu items, prices and individuals mentioned in this review may not be up to date. Dine.TO encourages its users to share their feedback.

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