The Early Word--Tierra Sana in Forest Hills

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Tierra Sana is a new vegetarian restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens that describes itself as a Tribal Kitchen, and loudly admonishes you to "Choose Health." The dining room opens onto the Queens Boulevard access road and faces the sun, and it would be a great dining room if it weren't for its coffee-house ambience, complete with big, slightly rundown velvet couches.

There are plenty of tables, and a bar that dispenses invented cocktails and smoothies. Colorful spirit paintings line the walls, and the food is just as colorful. One part of the menu--from Armando Martinez, who describes himself as a shaman and a chef--is filled with creative and somewhat eccentric combinations of fake meat with vegetables, in fruit-bearing sauces that tend to be a tad too sweet. An example we tried from that side of the menu was a pair of vegetarian chorizo sausages, very good in themselves, propped like cannons on a craggy bed of vegetables, in an appetizer called Central of Mexico ($16). The entire foodscape rests in a sauce described as yogurt and pomegranate, in spite of its odd purple color. This largish appetizer was one of the strangest plates of food I've encountered recently.

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The appetizer called "Central of Mexico" represents an entire fall wardrobe of color.

jump to examine further dishes

The other half of the menu is much less expensive, and consists of the sort of brown-rice-and-veggies cooking invented by the hippies in the late 60s. Some of these dishes have an international flair--like the Malay coconut curry ($8) and the zucchini enchiladas ($7)--but they all tend to deploy a similar roster of ingredients. (BTW, the enchiladas are quite tasty, though what was advertised as a mole was more like the sort of cheese-laden cooking one readily finds in Denver or Santa Fe.) Smoothies, sandwiches, salads, and desserts in dozens of permutations round out the second menu. 100-17 Queens Boulevard, Forest Hills, Queens, 718-830-0544

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The Sonoran-style zucchini enchiladas was the dish my crew and I enjoyed the most.

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The Malay coconut curry, served with curried brown rice, suffered from having a similar catalog of vegetables as several other dishes.



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