Friday, May 7, 2010

What is that place? - Tierra

I can't count the number of times I've driven past Tierra only to wonder what it was. An underground swingers club? A Hispanic dry-cleaning service? The location, neon signage and facade of the restaurant is just plain, odd and non-descript. After doing some research, I thought I was going to rediscover a gem here and that was the motivation for stopping in.

The husband and wife team of chefs focuses primarily on Latin American and Carribean flavors with a strong emphasis on seafood. They definitely want to come off as authentic and I can neither confirm or deny how true they are to the food's origins. One thing I loved was the glossary of terms used on the menu - truly helpful and educational. Since it was a Wednesday, we also took advantage of the half off wine bottles. That deal aside, the meal was not cheap for what it was.
I had a fillet of flounder served in a delicious red/citrussy broth with a cheesy flan soufflé. The flounder was on the dry side and under seasoned while the flan soufflé was really a nice touch. The dish, unfortunately, was still around $20 which very much on the steep side for flounder.

Kins opted for the mussels. The best thing about these suckers was the savory broth, but overall it wasn't a very exciting dish. Additionally a few of the mussels hadn't opened, thus meaning they were DOA.

The highlight of the meal is definitely the Tres Leches cake. It's the best I've had and you'd be hard pressed to fine one this good in Atlanta. Don't let it's mix-cake appearance fool you - it's good eats!

The atmosphere at Tierra parallels the well-hidden spots ambiance quite well. I think most of the regulars there were showing newcomers or clients their take on a hidden gem. The owner is very polite and regular with the regulars, of which there were many, and somewhat brash attitude towards newcomers (apparent on both of my visits). Additionally, the restaurant does not have a very youthful and happening vibe which I'm perfectly fine with (although young patrons are often associated with a restaurant's success).

The fact that Tierra was AJC's 2008 Restaurant of the Year shows just how far Atlanta has come culinarily in the last two years. Frankly, Tierra wouldn't be in my top 20. Even when this place was supposedly hot in 2008, I think it was still under the radar for most Atlantans. I believe that Tierra is surviving solely off of neighborhood (Ansley Park and Morningside) support.

Tierra on Urbanspoon

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