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Review: Bountiful salads, beautiful setting at Palo Alto’s Terrain Cafe

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Terrain Cafe, a garden restaurant adjacent to Stanford Shopping Center’s Anthropologie & Co., is beautiful. Inside, plants are fashioned into art, from the massive garden panel wall to the found antique floral chandelier detailed with bark and other living things. The kitchen is open, the patio has year-round seating for 40, and the house-baked brioche bread comes in small terra cotta planters.

Every detail is gorgeous. You’d expect nothing less from the company known for American rustic indoor-outdoor elegance. Terrain is a small home decor and garden shop located inside some Anthropologie stores (including the one in Walnut Creek).

But the restaurant is the only one outside the original flagship Terrain Cafe in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. Given the obvious five-star ambiance, Terrain Cafe is perfect for a healthy nosh after — we hope — an equally healthy shopping spree. And the restaurant excels in the salad department.

Choose from one of four bright, seasonal beauties, like the Terrain Garden Salad (£12) with baby greens, Fresno County grilled apricots, Napa slaw and snap peas. Pair it with a refreshing cocktail — we loved the light and zippy Elderflower Rose (£11) — or create your own house-made fruit spritzer (£4).

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Other dishes are good, but most suffer from a lack of seasoning, even acid. Dungeness Crab Toast (£16) was supposed to have lemon zest topping the avocado wedges, shaved Easter radish, dill and chives, but we couldn’t detect any.

Beef tartare, a selection on our farm board (six items for £22), was bland. Same with the roasted wild mushrooms, another farm board item. They were naked on our visit but images on Yelp show the mushrooms slathered in oil and herbs.

Our server was courteous and accommodating, so we eventually asked her for lemon wedges, salt and pepper and put those on everything, including our Roasted Wild Alaskan Halibut (£23) with pattypan squash, olive oil-poached fingerlings and saffron chives. The fish was evenly cooked with a pleasing, crisp sear, but the saffron was tasteless. Only the Seared Mediterranean Lamb Loin (£25) with millet, Picholine olives and dried apricots packed a punch because of its lovely cabernet mint reduction and the Bellwether Farms’ creamy sheep’s milk cheese that had melted into the millet.

Pistachio Hummus (£9) also didn’t disappoint. Grated pecorino and accompanying spicy za’atar crackers balanced the spread’s rich nuttiness.

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If you’re in Stanford Shopping Center and looking for sustenance with a view, order those dishes or one of the salads with a fruity spritzer. Then lean back and take in all that gorgeous greenery.

Terrain Cafe

2 1/2 stars Where: Stanford Shopping Center, 180 El Camino Real, Suite 1301, Palo Alto

Contact: 650-262-1830;[5] Hours: Dinner 5-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m. daily

Cuisine: California farm-to-table Prices: Entrees £18-£28 Vegetarian: One entree, the Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi (£18), a Goat Cheese Terrine (£12) and four salads (£12-£14)

Beverages: Housemade sodas, garden cocktails, craft beer, and wine list with California focus Reservations: Recommended for weekend brunch and dinner via OpenTable Noise level: Quiet

Parking: Mall parking Kids: Children’s menu includes Grilled Mary’s Organic Chicken (£7) and Little Terrain Burger (£9) Pluses: Terrain’s strengths are its bountiful salads, refreshing cocktails and gorgeous environs.

Minuses: Several dishes were under-seasoned or lacked seasoning. Date opened: November 2016 Policy
Restaurant reviews are conducted anonymously.

The Bay Area News Group pays for all meals.


Restaurants are rated on a scale of one to four, with four representing a truly extraordinary experience for that type of restaurant.


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