Grand Rapids Magazine Top 10 Restaurant of 2021: Terra GR

A simplified menu and attention to details make Terra a favorite.
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Editor’s note: This is Part 9 of a 10-part series on the top 10 Grand Rapids restaurants for 2021. To see a list of all of the restaurants, click here.

Nobody celebrates food in such brilliant Technicolor like Terra GR, 1429 Lake Drive SE. From start to finish, the Eastown favorite is invested in your happiness.

“When taking reservations, we’re definitely looking for details — perhaps you’re celebrating a birthday, one year of sobriety, the weekend, a father-daughter dance, anything really, because we believe that our Terra guest experience is an opportunity for us to put a smile on your face,” said Kevin Skukalek, general manager.

During the state’s service restrictions, Terra GR upped its takeout game by simplifying its offering to weekly pop-up menus available Wednesday through Sunday from 4-8 p.m. Never losing sight of its farm-to-table ethos, chef de cuisine Ryan McClure and sous chef Lucas Cahoon wowed with seasonal ingredients, flawless techniques and lovely presentations.

During the COVID-19 disruptions, “our culinary team decided to deviate from our typical menu,” Skukalek said, “even bringing back the classics like pesto rigatoni and gazelle salad for a week.”

For the holidays, Terra GR accommodated its guests with special-occasion take-home feasts such as prime rib with cheesy potato au gratin, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, shrimp cocktail and peanut butter-chocolate-caramel turtle pie.

“There’s really a certain integrity here — just a harmony in the way the food is prepared and presented,” Skukalek said. “Our chef de cuisine Ryan and I have worked together for many years and he paints the plate with his creativity. He’s an artist.”

The food is as flavorful as it is colorful — with plenty of gluten-free and vegan options. During Terra’s weekly takeout menu, you might get something wonderful like the Korean-inspired mushroom bibimbap bowl or the massaman red coconut curry. My family’s crazy about the margherita pizza dressed with tomato sauce, basil and hand-pulled mozzarella.

This bustling restaurant is a magnificent space with a high ceiling, stone floor, hard woods, big windows and window sills lined with succulents. The patio is positioned to always soak up the sun and offers the best seats in the house.

“When we reopened for dine-in after the last shutdown, we were surprised at how busy we were, with waitlists and full reservations,” Skukalek said.

Just a few doors down from Terra in the Kingsley Building you’ll find Terra Bagels — a new venture by Ken Sung, Terra owner, and Clark Frain, Terra’s executive chef. The bagel shop launched in September during the global pandemic. It’s exceptionally successful with the same philosophy of scratch cooking along with utilizing local ingredients. Really an ideal eatery for take-away with its 12 varieties of bagels, 13 schmears and bagel sandwiches — highlighted in the house-made lox and pastrami.

This story can be found in the March 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox each month, subscribe here

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