Opening Night: TERRACE by Mix Mix at South Coast Plaza

Dessert first. You never know what might happen next. Anne Marie Panoringan

Two years ago this month, we announced the relocation of  Ross Pangilinan from Costa Mesa to Santa Ana. It was a bold move that is paying off, as he quietly launched dinner service at his second restaurant this past Friday. Located in the former zCafe space at South Coast Plaza, TERRACE by Mix Mix begins regular operating hours on Tuesday. We did double-duty, enjoying date nite and familiarizing ourselves with chef’s menu. Below is your dinner preview, along with our notes from that night.

Small Plate/Hamachi Crudo: marinated strawberry and tomato. Anne Marie Panoringan

Per Chef Pangilinan, “I am excited to start serving guests in our new restaurant. The build out turned out great. We have an amazing team that has already shown great positive energy, led by sous chefs Devin, Adrian and beverage director Eric.” Adrian has worked alongside Pangilinan since his Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge days. We first met Eric Richter at the Pacific Wine and Food Festival, where we learned about TERRACE’s focus on a wine program. House wines included a 2015 Driopi Rose produced by Domaine Tselepos in Greece.

Texture. Color. Flavor. Anne Marie Panoringan

While we looked over TERRACE’s dinner sheet, chef informed us that only a couple of items were also on the menu at Santa Ana Mix Mix: the Albacore Tostada and Pork Cheek Adobo. If something did look familiar (we eyed the House Made Agnolotti), it was because it may have been a special, not a mainstay, featured in DTSA. We weren’t too hungry, so we focused on the Small Plates section. The Roasted Shrimp includes gremolata, an Italian condiment featuring garlic and parsley, and Korean chili.

We’ll just have one. Anne Marie Panoringan

Carnivores will have the choice between the aforementioned Adobo, Meatballs, a Charcuterie with cheese selection and a trio of Asian BBQ Pork Ribs. Ordered by our date, we promised to only take a bite of one. We lied. Luckily, they were also filling up on the soup special: Tomato Bisque with Grilled Cheese. At this point, we were both getting pretty full, but were still curious about the entrees. Pangilinan offered a tasting size of their Salmon Escabeche. Served alongside smoked fingerling potatoes, pickled vegetables, and a smoked paprika emulsion, TERRACE managed to make our rich protein taste quite light. It was the highlight of our evening.

Not a full salmon serving, but still divine. Anne Marie Panoringan

Although terrace is in the name, we opted for banquette seats indoors. Pangilinan mentioned how some of the feedback he received included a request for more comfortable seating. He delivered on that request, conducting a full remodel of the interior. By day, TERRACE’s covered patio will be the place to be – ideally situated at one end of the Bridge of Gardens, it is prime dining real estate. Upgraded furnishings and modest garden decor give an understated elegance.

Bread puddin + ube = nap in your future. Anne Marie Panoringan

Dinner is served nightly from 5-9 p.m. Weekend brunch is both Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Happy Hour is Monday through Saturday from 3-5 p.m. And lunch? Well, it turns out we previewed lunch a year-and-a-half ago, when he was toying with the idea during restaurant week. While dinner is full-service, lunch will be a quick service, order at the counter meal – think modern bento box-style, it is a $15 trio of courses that includes a salad, snack and main. With a minimum of four options for each course, combinations are aplenty and served all at once. This eliminates the need to stare so hard at one’s iPhone while squeezing in a proper lunch hour.

Oh, and dessert! We went for the gusto and saved our calories for Ube Bread Pudding. Prepared with brioche bread and served with coconut ice cream, plus a vanilla-lime leaf creme anglaise, let’s just say you might want to share this purple treat. We’ll see you next week for lunch (or was it brunch?), Pangilinan!

TERRACE by Mix Mix is located at 3333 Bear St., Unit 316, (657) 231-6447;

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