Review: Terra – The Magic Place, Bolzano

Terra - The Magic Place

Terra – The Magic Place

In England we’d call a restaurant “B*tchshack” or “Dumb Waiter” before we’d ever dream of naming it something as corny as “The Magic Place” but today we’re not in England, we’re in northern Italy. And at the very end of a winding mountain road through the pine forests, overlooking an idyllic Alpine valley, is Terra – The Magic Place. It’s a Relais & Chateau hotel with only ten rooms, and a 2* Michelin restaurant. We came for a treat. : )

And we got a treat. Our room was a beauty, and the whole stay a real multi-sensory experience with evocative wild scents, textured surfaces and views of forest or mountain all around. The Wellness Suite includes a jacuzzi with a view and a sauna room including a huge basket of hay that fills the steamy hot air with fragrance. And with only ten rooms you often feel like you have the place to yourself. But you’ll want to hear about the meal…

Amuse bouches

Amuse bouches

It’s a many-course tasting menu with a genuine emphasis on local ingredients from the mountains and a strong theme of wild herbs running through it. We started off with five snacks, as jewel-like and beautiful as you’d expect at this level. That said, none of them were really the absolute flavour-bombs that I’d like from a snack, so more a triumph of presentation over punch.

There was a bit more of this with the first dish, rainbow trout two ways. The cured trout was a delicious piece, but needlessly wrapped in a tube of gel. The royal of trout was perfect though, warm and rich but balanced nicely with salty roe and gratings of dried trout.

After this, the flavours got bolder and better as the meal went on. Really bravely burnt brioche, starkly black with smoked eel and clove blossoms. Delicious sourdough with good butter but even better pine oil. I love pine oil with bread (or at least, now I do). An extremely splendid raviolo filled with pure mountain herbs and glazed sticky-umami-sweet. Then a piece of perfectly cooked mountain char with a hum of wild garlic and other herbs. Another raviolo, this time with berries and beetroot inside, paddling in a really deeply perfect broth of St George’s mushroom.



The main course of venison was a real high point. The beautiful pink piece of back had a fine gamey flavour that worked well with the sweetly herbal sauce, balanced on sturdy pieces of simple kohlrabi. The sticky shoulder was a more gorgeous and memorable bite, shaped into a ball covered with geranium petals glazed a dramatic red colour by a really splendid blueberry-barbecue glaze. Desserts are kept nicely light after all that, with an array of fluffy stones, green gel sheets, white shards and snow. Bright, fresh, mountain herb flavours come clearly through all the desserts – even the petit fours afterwards – and nicely tie together the theme of the meal.

So I loved my meal at Terra, and I can’t possibly separate the splendid cooking from the beautiful surroundings and the very sensory stay in their lovely rooms, but I guess that’s rather the point… I can’t imagine many people wanting to put in a 45 minute taxi ride each way to eat here. It’s expensive, but I’ll remember it for all the right reasons, so that makes it good value in my book. It’s a magic place.

Venison with hibiscus leaf and BBQ blueberry sauce

Venison with hibiscus leaf and BBQ blueberry sauce

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