Aqua Terra at Pala Mesa – where locals serve locals

Tucked at the bottom of a hillside along Historic Route 395 in Fallbrook is Pala Mesa Resort, an award-winning facility offering some of the best seafood around. The restaurant, Aqua Terra, offers panoramic views of rolling green fairways in a peaceful, woodsy setting. Guests can choose to enjoy the full bar and cozy lounge, sushi bar, or step down into the main dining area to enjoy California coastal cuisine.

The urban escape also offers picturesque wedding venues, romantic getaways at the hotel and catered events where people from around the world visit, but many locals have yet to discover.

The resort is under new ownership and General Manager William Johnson feels it is time to start drawing in local residents who want to enjoy a resort-style atmosphere without traveling far from home.

“There is a misconception we are a private golf course. We are open to the public. The restaurant and hotel is also open to the public,” said Johnson.

Pala Mesa will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014.

“We want to celebrate this milestone by overcoming the assumption we are a country club or just a golf course and draw in our neighbors,” said Johnson.

Pala Mesa Resort will also be undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation next year to update its hotel rooms and grounds, including the restaurant.

Sean Sullivan is the chef at Aqua Terra. Sullivan graduated from The School of Culinary Arts in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and has been running his own kitchens ever since. He became enamored with seafood while working at The Fishery in Pacific Beach. The Fishery is the home of the leading wholesaler of seafood in San Diego with an incredible retail market, and the top seafood house on the coast. 

Sean’s philosophy in the kitchen is simple: homemade recipes, high quality ingredients, consistency, and loving what you do.

One of the new menu items at Aqua Terra is the Salmon Club. The salmon is fresh and flakey placed on top of a warm toasted house focaccia bread with applewood-smoked bacon, cucumber, baby spinach, and lemon-caper aioli.

The sandwich, served with shoestring fries, is a whole filet cut in two. The layers of flavor keep you coming back for bite after bite.

A Fallbrook restaurant cannot be complete without locally grown avocados on the menu. Enjoy a warm Baked Avocado loaded with ricotta and mascarpone cheese, roasted red peppers, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and prosciutto for an appetizer or meal.

Another wonderful seafood appetizer is the Scallops. If you have a party of more than two you may want to order a few because they go fast. The scallops sit atop a toasty potato cake with masago hollandaise, balsamic greens, and oven-dried tomatoes. The scallops are delicate, lightly sweet, yet meaty.

The menu at Aqua Terra has a plethora of seafood dishes, home-cooked non-seafood meals, cheese plates, and dessert. There is something for everyone.

Chelsey Beeson, marketing and advertising manager for the resort said that although the resort is open to the public they offer memberships and members are offered discounts and specials year round.

The resort has many regulars who like to golf, dine with friends, or make friends with other members.

“We have a lodge-like atmosphere tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the daily grind. The resort and restaurant has a cozy, stay-awhile atmosphere,” said Beeson.

For reservations, contact the Aqua Terra restaurant at (760) 731-6805 or visit Pala Mesa Resort at 2001 Old Highway 395, in Fallbrook. To contact the resort toll free dial (800) 722-4700.

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