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10 April 2006 @ 12:50 pm
Restaurant review?  
College 9/10 has this place above its dining hall, called "University Center," a ritzy-looking place for business executives to meet, or go for some lunch. The main room in the center's got a fireplace, lounge chairs, random books, nice plants, etc. And the bathrooms have paintings in them. So it's sort of like upon ascending the stairs (or taking the one-story elevator) to the center, you're in some movie that just made the cut from Santa Cruz to some studio in LA.

Anyway there's a full-blown fancy restaurant in the center called Terra Fresca, open for lunch, with a surprisingly affordable menu. It welcomes students - and best of all, it also takes flexi-dollars (prepaid credit for non-dining hall food on campus). And they really do the whole thing - bring you bread and oil, ask if you'd like dessert/coffee after the meal, and they even have a selection of wines.

So for lunch I had a grilled calamari steak sandwich with some lightly peppered bacon on sourdough. Calamari steak! I didn't even know that existed. And the thing was only 7 bucks. That's about the average price of a meal in the dining hall, and when you're in the dining hall you don't know what you're going to get but it's usually some popcorn chicken in some culturally ambiguous sauce. And this sandwich at Terra Fresca was quite tasty and filling. It also came with a cup of caramelized onion and potato soup, which, although a bit bland, was leaps and bounds ahead of any dining hall soup.

It's really quite odd that this sort of place exists and isn't as well-known, especially given the prices. The staff is courteous, the ambience is great, and the food is on par with any other sit-down restaurant. I'd think the reason people don't go here more often is because it might take more time to sit down and eat there... or because they have limited flexi-dollars they decide not to go there at all. Or it might be that it'd be seen as ritzy and haughty and people don't want to do that.

And that's sort of what's interesting to me. When I sat down and had this meal I was giving it my best in terms of manners and politeness - stuff I learned from previous experiences at fancy restaurants. I know that a lot of people frown at restaurants like these and they'd really rather just pay less, fill up, and get out, but since this place is so cheap I'd think of it as nice practice for future dining endeavors. But still I felt as if I was upper-class and priveleged, as if none of the other students who go here could do what I was doing just then - and then I realized, well, I'm on a UC campus. I'm paying a butt-load of money a year to go here. I am priveleged.

But still if you haven't heard about it before I suggest going. They've got some really nice dishes and especially if you're on some sort of numbered meal plan (you can pay with those too) I suggest trying it out. Go with friends, though - I went by myself because I had some free time and thought I might as well go upstairs to a fancier place than the dining hall since I had the flexis - but of course this is the sort of place where you sit down and dine with friends. (Or coworkers.)

P.S. they don't want you to tip! That's saving a dollar or two.
chelseaisland_fae on April 10th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
HAH. welcomes students...

admittedly I haven't been there in the school year, but during summer orientation they (the servers) were very rude.
Jeffrey Carl Fadenjeffreyatw on April 10th, 2006 08:44 pm (UTC)
Really depends on who they hire. Some students work there. They seemed really nice and welcoming to me...
Yelizaveta: crono victolymajesticarky on April 10th, 2006 08:43 pm (UTC)
what's funny is that before the restaurant became the Terra whatever, it sucked. *badly*. Summer orientation staff used to go there for lunch. The staff was disrespectful and completely condescending of students, the food came way too late, and the cooking was pretty crappy too. I have never been back. Maybe it's better now. I'm looking forward to trying it out during orientation this year. We'll see. I'm glad the management/restaurant changed though.
La Petite Mortmon_oubliette on April 10th, 2006 09:03 pm (UTC)
they don't want you to tip? why?
Jeffrey Carl Fadenjeffreyatw on April 10th, 2006 09:13 pm (UTC)
I dunno. She gave me the check and there wasn't any room to leave a tip, and I asked "should I tip?" and she said no.
La Petite Mortmon_oubliette on April 10th, 2006 09:15 pm (UTC)
That might explain why everyone else had such bad service.
chelseaisland_fae on April 10th, 2006 10:08 pm (UTC)
no, actually i think it's because they changed... like the poster above said (hello fellow OL) it WAS really bad in the past summer. now it's terra fresca or whatever, before it sucked.
rtf on April 10th, 2006 10:16 pm (UTC)
There is a new taco place at Merrill. It opens today, I'm gonna check it out.
Attempting to sleep w/ ratherunlikely since 2003!communismkeke on April 11th, 2006 01:58 am (UTC)
I have had some pretty bad burritos here in Santa Cruz but I think that new place really stands out as far as horrible Santa Cruz burritos goes. God was it awful, they even beat out the Hungry Slug.

I hate Santa Cruz Mexican food so much.
Jeffrey Carl Faden: Gaspjeffreyatw on April 11th, 2006 02:00 am (UTC)
Culinary advice? Look who's talking!!!
rtf on April 11th, 2006 05:30 am (UTC)
He is correct. The only good thing I can say about the "supreme" burrito I got was that it didn't make a mess and I needed no utensils. That's because it was woefully underfilled; the ingredents were dry and unevenly spread, with large chunks of lettuce and onion at the top and just a little bit of guac and sour cream at the bottom. They didn't even put in salsa to cover up these deficiencies.

What's worse is, this is apparently their second location. The first is on Water Street. It is cheap, but Taco Bell is cheaper.
Jeffrey Carl Fadenjeffreyatw on April 11th, 2006 05:49 am (UTC)
I know, I was kidding
Miss Maggie Mayhemmsmaggiemayhem on April 10th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
They also accept block meal plans. 20, 55, 75 plans are all changed into $8 a meal so you can eat well.
Jeffrey Carl Fadenjeffreyatw on April 11th, 2006 02:00 am (UTC)
Indeed. I wonder, though - if the meal was more than $8, would you just pay the rest in cash?
CreativEcstasycreativecstasy on April 11th, 2006 09:12 am (UTC)
no, they take away another meal.
Jeffrey Carl Fadenjeffreyatw on April 11th, 2006 03:32 pm (UTC)
That sucks. Maybe you can ask to pay the rest in cash.
嘉慧: Oishii!chiahui on April 21st, 2006 01:55 am (UTC)
Kristi and I went to Terra Fresca as a result of your entry (twice). It was really good. I really enjoyed it. And you can pay the rest with flexi or cash if you exceed over $8. =D
Jeffrey Carl Fadenjeffreyatw on April 21st, 2006 01:57 am (UTC)
Awrsome! I plan on going there a whole lot more too.