But sometimes what you’re in the mood for is something a little more casual. Something a little more eclectic. Yet still refined in execution.
Bar Terra fits that to a “T.”
Three years ago, Chef-Owner Hiro Sone and his wife, Pastry Chef-Owner Lissa Doumani, remodeled their 26-year-old, award-winning Terra restaurant in St. Helena. The doorway divides the two dining rooms. On the left remains the elegant, hushed Terra. On the right was created Bar Terra, a more laid-back, livelier spot with a liquor license that brought forth a new cocktail menu with the likes of the “Hirotini” (Sveda vodka, sake, ginger and cucumber; $10).
You’ll find locals filling the chairs at Bar Terra, nightly. Doumani makes the rounds, greeting every familiar face. And there are plenty of them.
It’s easy to see the attraction: Bar Terra’s prices are lower than Terra. You can come in jeans. And you can even mix and match — ordering off either Terra’s or Bar Terra’s menu or both.
That’s exactly what I did when a friend and I dined there over the winter. Although we paid our tab, dessert was on the house, compliments of Sone and Doumani, who knew us both.
We stuck mostly to the Bar Terra menu with one exception: The salad of Ezo abalone with shrimp, butter beans, fennel and pickled Meyer lemon ($18.50) from the Terra menu just called out to me. It’s hard to resist fresh abalone the rare times it appears on a menu. It didn’t disappoint, either, with its sweet, tender yet toothsome flesh brightened by the citrus.