Thursday, March 5, 2009
Tierra Sana - Pay What You Want (No Joke)
Tierra Sana - 100-17 Queens Blvd, Forest Hills NY 11375
F Train to 67th Avenue
Recession specials have gotten creative. One that I came across recently made me stop in my tracks--Tierra Sana's "Pay What You Want Tuesdays." I didn't understand how it could be! "Truly there must be some catch," I thought. But the only way to find out was to see for myself. So when my friend Crystal and I had dinner there this week, we not only validated the legitimacy of this deal, we also fell in love with the place.
Tierra Sana in Spanish means healthy land, which is exactly the way it felt inside--earthy, organic yet approachable and cozy. The color palate is soothing and rich in hues, as birch tables and chairs contrast with deep maroon walls and sheer curtains. The dining furniture is eclectic and ranges from traditional tables and chairs to loungy, couch seating--sending a message that Tierra doubles up as a traditional sit down restaurant as well as a laid-back cafe/lounge. I noticed a couple of people with laptops and others with reading/writing material. The staff didn't seem to mind, as patrons are left to relax and linger as long as they want. There's no feeling of stress, rush or the faintest trace of the hectic city life, which is just wonderful.
Not reading the menu beforehand, I didn't know what to expect. I, along with most people hold the stereotype that healthy/organic food is just not as tasty as bacon and lard--and that's why my expectations were low. However, Tierra proved me wrong, as everything we enjoyed that night was prepared with care, plenty of flavor and most of all love.
Smoked Chili Lentil Soup - I always appreciate a good, hot soup and it went perfectly with the unseasonably cold March day we were having. Tierra's chili was not only hearty, it was packed with many delicious veggies--there was everything from sweet squash and beans to tender carrots. Everything was fresh and aromatic, seasoned with smoky seasoning. The flavors in the soup worked beautifully and the portion was generous.
Salmon Burger - Usually wary of non-meat burger variations, something told me to trust Tierra to do it right. And while my eyes were still cautious when this dish arrived--the meat looked ham-pink and kind of thin--my stomach was sold all the way. The meat was fresh and didn't taste fishy--it tasted like a good burger should. I loved dipping the salmon into the refreshingly cool yogurt dill sauce that came with it. Actually I loved the sauce so much that I dipped everything into it--tomatoes, lettuce, onions. I can't neglect to mention the whole grain bun because it was phenomenal. Not gritty or dry, the bread was fluffy, fresh and slightly sweet--it was the perfect way to sandwich this baby.
Zucchini Enchiladas - Crystal ordered these because they sounded non-traditional and interesting. Her portion was large and she seemed to love it, despite the warning that it was "very spicy." I tasted it with caution and it wasn't too hot at all, it was done just right with a distinct kick that wasn't offensive. The zucchini had a nice grilled flavor and the sticky rice and beans looked yummy--I didn't try the rice but Crystal said it was awesome.
Vegan Brownies - Our dessert was complimentary, as we were surprised with a beautiful plate of vegan brownie strips. The nucleus of the dish boasted a cold strawberry dipped in chocolate and topped with coconut shavings. I've never had a vegan brownie before and was delighted at how much I liked it. It was more bitter than a traditional brownie and definitely more chocolaty than buttery. I enjoyed popping the brownie strips into my mouth and felt less guilty about eating them, as opposed to if they were full-fat. I recommend this dessert to everyone!
Service and Cost:
Our waitress was friendly and hospitable. Her service started off mediocre, as we had to chase her down for a menu but after that, she was great. She even offered us a free organic wine tasting, which we loved and appreciated. Overall, everyone was very nice and it was especially sweet of them to bring us an on-the-house dessert.
The cost was truly unbeatable. For all the food that I just mentioned, our "suggested" total was $21 excluding tip. Because it was "pay what you want Tuesday," we were able to fill in our own amount and pay what we felt like. Because the food and the service were so top-notch, we didn't want to skimp out and ended up leaving $26 for the entire meal including tip. The price that we "gave" our meal was $19 and the rest was tip.
Tierra Sana also offers other weekly specials such as "Treat a Friend Mondays," where your friend eats for free and even a $9.95 all you can eat buffet on Thursdays from 4pm - 8pm.
3 Healthy Mmmms