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Garden of funky delights

An old drug store gets a West Coast makeover

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It's the basic recipe for any success-seeking restaurant: add mood lighting, a funky menu, a new paint job, great service and -- voila! -- you've got a new sensation. That the owners of Terra Garden Grille are accomplishing this in the vacated drug store space next to a grocery store in Brookhaven is even more credit to the actualization of their vision.

The soothing greens, browns and bonsai give you the first hint of a West Coast influence. The edamame (soy beans), tofu, yogurt and whole grains take you all the way to the Pacific.

What we ate: The restaurant prides itself on a diverse menu that is low in fat and cholesterol. You'll find teriyaki herb-crusted tofu and the obligatory black bean veggie burger. But you'll also find buffalo burgers and a chicken and spinach sun-dried tomato link. Buffalo meat was unavailable on one occasion. But we were offered the black Angus burger ($6.50) as a substitute. The lean meat, seasoned and served on a whole-wheat bun, retains its healthy image yet remains juicy, smoky and thick. A grilled salmon filet sandwich ($6.95) with a subtle yogurt dill sauce was good but could've used a little more lemon. Along with all the sandwiches, you get a choice of a mixed green salad, gourmet chips, roasted potatoes or edamame. The dill sauce showed up again with the strange-sounding chicken and spinach sun-dried link ($5.95), really a hot dog sans pork. Believe it or not, the quarter-pound of pressed meat (served on a whole grain bun with diced tomatoes) is good. It too fares well on the grill and has a pronounced hot dog flavor despite being a hot bird instead.

Service: Most service happens at the counter surrounding the grill. A person takes your order and hands you a slip of paper. Then you pay at a register surrounded with wine and beer selections. You're given a number, and the food is delivered to your table. If you need anything, helpful servers move along the booths and high-top tables. If not, you're left alone -- there's self-serve fountain drinks and a case with specialty juices. Tips are appreciated but not required since you're doing most of the work yourself.

Cheapest item: The junior Angus burger (four instead of six ounces of lean beef) rings up at $4.50. You still get a choice of sides. If you're small, maybe you can sneak a PB&J or grilled cheese from the kid's menu for $3.95.

Most expensive item: The buffalo burger will cost you $7.25, and the vodka salmon bowtie pasta the same. Beginning soon, the restaurant will serve pricier dinner options that go as high as $15.95 for a buffalo rib-eye steak. You go ahead. I'm fine with good ol' cow on a bun.

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