Cheaper options overshadow cuisine


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Culinary arts major Carissa Garcia pours a chocolate mix into a cone the Aqua Terra Grill kitchen area on Tuesday.

By Anthony Kinney, News Editor

For on-campus dining students usually rely on Brix and Pronto to satiate their hunger and Aqua Terra Grill is often forgotten when discussing dining options.
The sit-down restaurant operated by the culinary arts department is located in SA-130 and is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday every week.
During my visit to Aqua Terra Grill the customer service at a base level was so good I almost forget the staff were students. But, under closer examination it became evident there was a lack of attention paid to the details.
I arrived at the restaurant 15 minutes after its opening time to see the “closed” sign still sitting in the window. Disheartened, I opened to the front door and asked the hostess at the front desk, “Are you guys open?” With a look of shock on her face she replied, “Of course,” as she frantically pulled the sign from the window. She then showed me to the bar where I sat down and was greeted by my waitress.
The charming setting was striking. The soft jazz playing through the restaurant’s speakers created a soothing and friendly ambience. My waitress made my lunch experience lighthearted and entertaining with her pleasant conversation and quick, accurate service. I sat down with my iced tea and perused the menu.
The restaurant’s short list of entrées was disappointing, but the available options are reasonably priced. And although limited, the menu embraces a variety of cuisine ranging from black tiger prawns and sautéed shrimp to rigatoni and chicken cakes. It doesn’t hurt that nothing is priced over $7.

I decided on the $7 New York steak cooked medium-rare with fingerling potatoes. The wait time for my steak was roughly 10 minutes. Not bad considering the rush of customers the restaurant was experiencing. The staff was able to handle the rush well and still get food out at a reasonable time. This is necessary for hungry students who want to eat lunch before class.

Once my meal arrived I cut into my steak and was pleased to see the red-pink center expected from a medium-well steak. I was impressed with how good the tender and well-seasoned steak tasted. No steak sauce was needed, nor was any offered. The fingerling potatoes, however, were overcooked and unappealing.
At the tail end of my lunch I was offered dessert. There’s an astonishing assortment of delicious dishes the dessert menu boasted. The options included strawberry cake, blueberry cheesecake, lemon ginger pie and a salted caramel brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. Culinary arts students studying commercial baking make the desserts.
I decided on the orange chocolate cake layered with white frosting and sprinkled with finely minced orange shavings. The orange chocolate cake was deliciously moist and possessed a refreshing hint of orange that made my palate backflip.
Although the waiting staff I experienced was attentive and well trained, they appeared to lack attention to detail when it comes to the “smaller things” incorporated with restaurant customer service. I had to ask for utensils for the dessert I ordered. While paying my inexpensive $11 bill I witnessed another customer hastily opening her carry out bag to check her order only to realize she was missing utensils. The staff was apologetic and promptly fixed their mistake.
Despite the lack of attention to smaller details, the food and overall dining experience was enjoyable.Aqua Terra Grill deserves to be thought of as a viable dining option alongside Pronto and Brix when students are deciding where to eat.