26 May, 2011

Do Over??

Upon occasion, I get a recommendation from someone I really trust, then I work myself up and I can't think of going ANYwhere to eat but THAT place; tonight was one those nights.  A great friend and colleague of my Mister who had given us a dynamite recommendation in Montgomery, AL before hit us up again with what sounded like a once in a lifetime experience, especially for Oklahoma City I decided we HAD to make this place a priority ahead of packing for Ottawa.  

You can get "authentic" Mexican on almost EVERY corner in Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas.  When we got here we looked around and assumed it could POSSIBLY be true, but I have had the same "authentic" Mexican in Duluth, MN where I am from.  One thing you can't find there...authentic Peruvian.  But you can in Oklahoma City!  Don't believe me??  I assure you I'm not making it up.  Tucked into a strip mall in NW Oklahoma City is a nice lookin' place called Inca Trail.

Just walking through the door I was excited.  It was clean, well lit and they had some sweet music playing.  We were the first customers of the evening.  I like it when that happens, I really have time to explore the place and talk to the peeps about their food.
View from our table

Booth Seating...my FAVorite!

Bar Area

The all important moment came...ordering.  I went with water and lemon...what came out was water and lime....I got over it.  I talked to the waitress for about 10 minutes about the menu, I asked her to recommend something that she could say was the "best of the best" that Inca had to offer.  She pointed out an appetizer and 2 entrees.  We ordered exactly what she recommended...the Palta Rellena for the starter and the Sudado de Pescado and Churrasco a lo Pobre for our entrees.  I only flog about what I eat, so we'll focus on the Rellena and the Churrasco.  My Mister went with the fish.  They brought out complimentary bowls of chicken soup.  They even brought one for the Sprout...we thought that was so cool, and our son thought so too.

I've had homemade chicken soup a million times in my life; it was easy to tell this was NOT out of a can.  The broth was fabulously earthy and fresh.  After finishing our cups, we couldn't wait for the rest of the meal!

While we were waiting I walked around to take in some of the art.  They feature an artists original work in the foyer and on the walls inside (to protect her original work, I did not photograph it) and all the pieces on display are available for purchase.  Here are some other pieces they had....




I was really feelin' like we had scored after the soup and I was imagining how fabulous our appetizer was going to be...but, sadly enough, it STAYED an imagination....

Palta Rellena

That is exactly what it looks like...a hollowed out avocado stuffed with a chicken mixture and drizzled with what TASTED like mayo and ketchup; also known as "fry sauce" in Utah.  I couldn't find a SINGLE piece of corn in the chicken mixture, but the carrots and peas were sure there.  They were frozen as a ROCK!  The avocado was not ripe yet, so it was BEYOND firm and completely flavorless.  The mayo was the only "flavor" to the mixture.  The chicken was shredded, like what you would find when you crack open a can of chicken from Sam's Club.  I wanted to cry.  I didn't want to come home and flog about this at all.  I certainly didn't want to tell our friend that I didn't like the food.  I told myself that perhaps this was a fluke.

I was wrong....
Churrasco a lo Pobre

 At first glance I calmed down quite a bit...I mean HOW can you go wrong with fried ANYthing and cooked meat??  Apparently...without much effort you can go WAY off track.  The eggs were undercooked...I'm talking "white slime" as soon as I forked into them.  It was warm, so I didn't freak...that's a sign I might live if I didn't send it back to the kitchen.  The meat....again...NO flavor.  The only thing I could taste about it was that it was in fact cooked.  Well...TOO well.  It was tough and I had to use my knife for EVERY single stitch of that strip.  The thing that saved it...kinda...was that tweency little cup of cilantro sauce you see up there next to the rice.  I spread out my rice into a bed...forked the eggs into it; making sure I incorporated the yolk well.  Then I poured the cilantro sauce all over that....then we were to a place that was bearable with taste.  Their cilantro sauce was FABULOUS.  Everything I expected to have when I went there frankly.  I couldn't fathom what happened with everything else.  The fried plantains were just "ok".  The frying did make the sweet pop more than normal, the Sprout loved them.  I didn't mess with the avocado or the tomato on the plate.

I POURED over the menu again when I came home...wondering if there was ANY way that this couldn't have been a better experience.  I came to the conclusion this waitress must not have thought I was serious when I told her I love complex flavors.  Wait staff hear that a LOT.  People walk into Thai restaurants ALL the time and tell the kitchen to make it "really hot" and then can't eat their meal because it is TOO hot.  I've NEVER had that problem but I really wanted understand how my friend who has REALLY great recommendations could be wrong about this place.  My answer was simple...he wasn't.  The waitress was.... 

I decided that if I had the opportunity to go back to Inca I would order the Ceviche de Pescado for my appetizer and the Seco de Carne for my entree.  That ceviche is fresh sea bass diced and marinated in lime juice, cilantro and red onions; served with sweet potato and two types of Peruvian corn (mote and cancha).  The carne is beef chunks cooked slowly in a cilantro and beer broth; served with salsa criolla, rice and beans.  I believe that would have made my taste buds sing...

Someone, do me a favor and go there and have those dishes...report back to me.  I'll live vicariously through you.  

I won't say not to try Inca Trail.  Perhaps this is a hit and miss situation.  My Mister thought his entree was "okay" but felt it pertinent to go beyond that and say "I would rather eat here again than an "authentic Mexican" place".  That is saying a whole lot... 

Inca Trail Peruvian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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