Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thorntree Terrace

There’s nothing I love more than visiting the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  My husband and I are members at the zoo, and we try to visit at least a handful of times each year.   

Last week, we stopped at the Safari Park on our way down to San Diego.  It was around 1:30pm on a Thursday when we arrived, and a lot of people, particularly large groups from schools, were leaving at that time.  Which was perfect for us.  Our mission was to go to the opposite end of the park, go on the tram safari and head out.  My husband picked up a map and saw a posting saying that there were lion cubs available to view.  There’s nothing cuter than baby big cats, so we decided to check that out as well.  We asked a worker where the lions cubs were, and she pointed us in the right direction.  They were currently out for exercise, and the sign said to come back at 2pm.  Perfect.  We were hungry from the 2 hour drive down from L.A. anyway, so this was the perfect opportunity to grab something for lunch.

I saw a sign advertising a Farmer’s Market salad at Thorntree Terrace.  We looked at the map and realized that were standing about right next to that restaurant, so we wandered over and looked at the menu.  I had been craving pizza, so we decided to order a Margarita Panini as well as the Farmer’s Market Salad.  We were given a buzzer that would go off when our order was ready.

In the meantime, we found a table outside on the terrace.  It was a very pleasant, tropical setting with thatched hut umbrellas, heaters (if it were cold out, which it wasn’t) and tropical plants.  My husband said it reminded him of Hawaii.  I think that most of the Safari Park is an African theme, so I think it was supposed to be more African than Polynesian, but regardless, it was tropical and pleasant.

It didn’t take long for our food to be ready.  I was impressed with the size of the salad.  It had fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, shredded cheddar cheese and avocado on it.  There was honey mustard dressing on the side.  I wasn’t impressed with the taste.  Somehow I expected the potatoes to be warm, but they were cold.  It was weird eating cold potatoes.  The dressing was almost gluishly thick.  The flavor was okay, but I think there was too much honey and not enough mustard in it.  I liked the cherry tomatoes dipped in the dressing though. 
My husband and I both liked the Panini better than the salad.  It came on ciabatta bread and was topped with fresh basil, sliced tomatoes, and marinated mozzarella cheese accented with sun-dried tomato garlic pesto. It was served grilled and came with a side of chips.  It definitely satisfied the pizza craving.  If I’m hungry the next time I’m at the Safari Park, I will definitely order the Margarita Panini.

My husband and I shared the salad and the Panini.  That was plenty of food for two hungry people.  Even though we liked the Panini better than the salad, I think it was a more balanced meal eating some lettuce with our meal and not just loading up on carbs.

It was a really pleasant lunch.  Even though the prices are on the high side for what you’d get, it’s not as bad as if you’re eating at a park like Disneyland.  I was impressed with the serving sizes, considering where we were.

After lunch, we went on to see the lion cubs, go on the tram safari, watch the full grown lions, and see the cheetah run.  All that, and we were back on the road by 4pm.  It was a great afternoon at the Safari Park!

Happy eating!

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