Winter has taken hold of our vibrant Canberra, and as I enter Terra on Marcus Clarke St during a weekday lunch time, I am taken aback by the blunt contrast of the bustling interior with the grey outdoors on this cold day in Canberra city.
For me, when I think of home, I can’t help but evoke images of family and friends sitting at a long table, lots of laughter and chit chat, plenty of bowls and dishes filled with fresh and delicious food and a warmth that is hard to describe in words. This is the first thing that comes to mind when I set eyes on Terra.
It is lunch time and it is busy. They have only been operating for a fortnight and yet this place is buzzing. The brainchild of brothers Anthony and Marcus Iannelli (The Food Forum, Belconnen) and Sung Son (ex-Hartsyard sous chef, Sydney), Terra is a canteen-style venue driven by produce and offering breakfast and lunch in Civic.
I am welcomed by one of their team members (which by the way happens to everyone as they enter Terra) and then introduced to Anthony Iannelli. Anthony tells me that the restaurant was a natural progression for the brothers and that their partnership with Sung is bringing the best produce they can get their hands on and turning it into delicious meals and gourmet rolls. Indeed, some of the items in their menu take days to make – time is not an issue so long as they produce quality and delicious food.
He shows me the onsite three-metre custom-made rotisserie that smokes and charcoals their meats, alternating between charcoal and wood to produce different flavours. They even carefully consider the type of wood, and the smokey flavour it will pass onto their produce. The three level spit currently has lamb, chickens and pineapples roasting and the smells coming from the kitchen are decadent.
They also have home-made pickles in jars, brightly adorning a wall. I see carrots, corn, gherkins, tomatoes (red and green) and jalapenos among others, and my mouth waters as I imagine tucking into these. I ask Anthony if there are plans to sell the jars of pickled produce or to do classes teaching their secret pickling recipe. He doesn’t dismiss the idea, and explains that at the moment they are concentrating in making Terra a success; noting that nothing is out of the question for the future though.
They have thought of pretty much everything. Even their team, just two weeks since they opened is a well-oiled machine. I am accustomed to new places opening and for the staff taking at least a month before they find their feet and settle into their roles and routines. Terra is different. Everyone seems to have a purpose and they work together to achieve it. I ask Anthony how he managed to do this in such a short time, and he confesses that the staff have been handpicked from some of the best restaurants in Canberra and that some of them have worked together before.
As a settle into the communal, 4 metre island bench, I notice that everyone is contentedly enjoying their meals or have clean plates and are savouring their final bites.
Their lunch menu is reminiscent of the typical ‘meat with 4 vegs’.
Pick your favourite protein (I personally recommend the brisket) and surround it with healthy options ranging from their spicy beans (which begin with a 4 day smoking process of the tomatoes), their roasted cauliflower and broccoli salad (which is now a staple given customer demand), or roasted vegetables.
Each plate comes with their signature gravy, and if you can pick the mystery ingredient (which I had to ask what it was), you have a better palate than mine.
Add a fresh juice (I had the rockmelon, blueberry and apple), a Duke coffee or a wine (yes, they are licensed) and you are set. If you prefer a gourmet roll, they have a variety of choices to select from, including their Terra cheese steak filled with scotch fillet, provolone cheese, capsicum, onion and house pickled chillies.
I am yet to visit for breakfast, but already have my eye on their ‘bacon sanga’ and the Terra takeaway bowls for those times when I am running late and need a healthy yet filling option to get me through the day.
Keep an eye on Terra’s website. Besides the possibility of future cooking classes, there are potential dinner collaborations in the cards, which I for one will not be missing.
What you need to know
They are open Monday to Friday from 7.30am until 4pm and on Saturday between 8am and 4pm
or follow them on instagram at terracanberra
We were invited to try out Terra’s menu at lunch. All opinions are our own.