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Let's Eat: Terra Restaurant still one of the best fine dining joints in Kamloops

An innovative pop-up experience — hailing from New York and coveted internationally — is (secretly) coming to Terra Restaurant at the end of November.

It’s called "Miracle."

Previous participating establishments have transformed their spaces into Santa’s workshop with a variety of different features, such as: Christmas karaoke nights, photo booths, and holiday-themed cocktails and snacks.

“It’s going to be casual, fun, and boisterous… high-energy!” chef David Tombs tells me.

Personally, I couldn’t be more ecstatic. Terra is already the kind of restaurant that arouses your senses in such a way that you become aware of what it feels like to truly enjoy the present moment. I swear, every time I dine there, it feels like time slows down because each mouthful commands so much appreciation between transformative bursts of flavour and texture. Adding a casual and festive layer (to what is normally a decadent fine dining scene) will make Terra Restaurant even more approachable this holiday season.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Christmas time is here 🎶 photo by @blakejones

A post shared by Miracle Pop-Up (@miraclepopup) on

Now, let’s dig into my most recent experience at Terra’s newly renovated 326 Victoria St. location.

To start, I ordered the daily soup, which happened to be a lobster and corn bisque topped with lime crema and edible flower petals. I always look forward to being presented with each course because it’s like uncovering a contemporary piece of art. The lobster and corn bisque was a multidimensional delight. Its flavours evolved on my palate in layers: a burst of citrus, an authentic lobster taste, and, a lingering spice. It was a $10 starter that set the standard for the remaining courses quite high, and at the same time, provided a comforting warmth that was perfect for fall.

I was delighted to see that the new renovations made such excellent use of Kamloops’ glorious natural light. Beautiful and clean, full panel windows really crafted an open and spacious feel. Classy tones of grey met a backdrop with a deep red hue. The walls mixed well with candles and wood accents to create a lovely ambience. I wasn’t surprised that multiple tourists (presumably from the Rocky Mountaineer) paused by the windows and were drawn inside. Glancing around, there was a clear atmosphere of enjoyment in the room.

From the nearest table, I heard a father say, “Aren’t you glad your mom chose this place because of you?”

His child donned a smile that spread from ear to ear and he looked like a bobblehead doll nodding enthusiastically.

SoupAn outstanding lobster and corn bisque. (via Emiko Ohama)

Terra Restaurant is known to offer a different menu for each calendar month. In promoting sustainable practices, they work with local farmers, artisans and ranchers to bring their guests fresh ingredients that are reflective of each season.

For the main course, I could choose between seafood, pork, chicken, steak, pasta, duck, lamb, or vegetarian. I chose the "catch," a sustainable seafood creation, because a few months ago I attended Terra’s Greatest Hits event (an eight-course dinner with wine pairings) and was thoroughly impressed with the standout quality of the Digby scallops sourced by Fishmonger Gina from Fisherman’s Market Kamloops. Immersed in chef Tombs’ creamy "Chowdah," with fresh wild white spring salmon and B.C. wild stripe prawns, the Digby scallops melted in your mouth. Terra listed their “Chowdah” as a greatest hit from their 2014 menu and I felt it was on par with a course I’ve experienced from Raymonds in Newfoundland, one of Canada’s top restaurants.

This time around, the catch was red spring salmon stuffed with a delicious scallop mousse, sautéed baby potatoes with leeks and lemon beurre blanc. I smiled, overhearing my server, Shayna, as she helped the couple from California at the table behind me. The man was asking about the course I was enjoying.

“Moose or mousse… how do you scallop... the animal, you know, with the antlers?” he asked.

Shayna was really personable and managed to help the man without embarrassing him, and I thought that was great.

Catch MPDinner was a perfect catch. (via Emiko Ohama)

For dessert, I tried the Carrot Study  an impressive ensemble of Brazilian carrot cake, panna cotta, halwa, pistachio tuiles, and, cardamom cream. The halwa was like a creamy spiced chai, and although it visually appeared hard or crunchy, it came apart easily with a fork and reminded me of spiced carrot slices with a pistachio undertone. A decorative base layer of chocolate ganache was enhanced by the added texture of chocolate crumbles sprinkled over top. Fresh raspberries, sliced oranges, and a crunchy caramelized brittle that was both sweet and smoky, made for a blissful moment. I felt as though I was sampling a gourmet chocolate in spread form. The Brazilian carrot cake itself was cut like generous sugar cubes, a little bit heavier and possessing a firm texture that was perfect for dipping into the white cardamom cream. It was like fall on a platter, comforting and memorable.

Terra Restaurant celebrated its eighth anniversary this July, and I managed to purchase a ticket to their celebratory event before they sold out. Not only was it a tasty and worthwhile experience, but it was also a fun way to meet new people too! Chef Tombs provided an entertaining backstory between courses, and at one point he started to highlight his appreciation for his team.

“We are a collaborative, flat structure where everyone’s voices are important,” he began.

Suddenly, I noticed that Krystal, whom I had just met, was tearing up.

“Why are you crying?” I asked.

“I used to work for David… they’re like family now… eight years… it’s beautiful!”

Hearing such a candid and raw testimony made me feel relieved; it’s nice to know that the place you refer visitors to also treats their staff like they’re family. I’m sure we’ve all been in that position where giving a good recommendation to someone visiting Kamloops really mattered to us. We want visitors to leave with a good impression of Kamloops, and let’s be real, we also want the people we meet to think we have excellent taste too (hahaha)! Every time I’ve recommended Terra Restaurant, I’ve always received a remark along the lines of, “Wow, that was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. Thanks for the recommendation.” So, I can say with confidence that if you haven’t made a reservation yet, you should really consider it!

Until next time, Kamloops!

Emiko Ohama is a Kamloops resident, writer, photographer and speaker. When she's not searching for her next local establishment to review, she’s either working as a kinesiologist, volunteering in the community or travelling. You can now follow her adventures on Instagram.




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