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Peruvian Restaurant on S. Park St. - Open Yet?

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Peruvian Restaurant on S. Park St. - Open Yet?

Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Mar 14, 2007 1:47 pm

According to this TCT article (from 2/7/07), Madison should have its first Peruvian restaurant right about now. Anyone been there or know if it's open?
Daniel Rodriguez, a recent Madison transplant, is fixing up a long neglected storefront at 602 S. Park St., for Inka Heritage, which he ambitiously predicts will open in two or three weeks.
...
"Peruvian cuisine is usually considered one of the most diverse in the world and is on par with French, Chinese and Indian cuisine," according to the Web site Wikipedia.

In January 2004, The Economist said that "Peru can lay claim to one of the world's dozen or so great cuisines."

Peruvian food combines flavors from four continents. It is linked to its pre-Inca and Inca heritage and has a mixture of influences, including Spanish, Basque, African, Sino-Cantonese, Japanese and Italian.

I've never had Peruvian cuisine and I'd like to give it a try. But I don't like going to places right after they opened. They usually have to go through some growing pains before they get everything down right.
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Postby TheBookPolice » Wed Mar 14, 2007 1:51 pm

It seems like there are fewer signs on that storefront now than there were a month ago. I'm getting a little concerned.

I drive past it every day to and from work. I'll make an effort to check it out.
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Postby GenieU » Wed Mar 14, 2007 3:43 pm

There's a Peruvian place in Sun Prairie called "Red and White" I think its also an Internet Cafe! Haven't been there yet.

And no, its highly unlikely that there would be guinea pig on the menu...Lets just get that out of the way beforehand.
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Postby Rosemary » Wed Mar 14, 2007 5:50 pm

The question is: would you eat it if you haven't already? I would.

Thanks for posting this, Vilas. I wondered the same thing as I drove to work today. I'm really looking forward to this place!
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Postby TAsunder » Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:32 am

I had peruvian food while visiting family in LA a year ago. It was pretty good. Definitely unique. If this place is as good as that one, I might become a regular. If I can bring myself to actually drive to a restaurant.
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Postby GenieU » Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:55 am

Rosemary wrote:The question is: would you eat it if you haven't already? I would.

Thanks for posting this, Vilas. I wondered the same thing as I drove to work today. I'm really looking forward to this place!


There was a "Rabbit in nut cream sauce" dish I used to like at "Rinconcito Sudamericano" in the Bucktown neighborhood back in Chicago.

Sure, I'd try Guinea Pig. I'd imagine it would be like a small rabbit. That is, like chicken but with smaller bones. Maybe I'd have to have to order two of them...
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Postby Rosemary » Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:10 am

GenieU wrote:There was a "Rabbit in nut cream sauce" dish I used to like at "Rinconcito Sudamericano" in the Bucktown neighborhood back in Chicago.


I worked down the street from Rinconcito (lived just west of The Crotch), but never ate there. I regret that. I'm in Chicago more often these days, so it's back on the list. Did you live in the neighborhood?
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Postby TheBookPolice » Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:16 am

As for Inka Heritage (the original restaurant in question)...I was a little concerned, because after seeing a banner on the front window announcing what was to come, the storefront had changed to papered windows. As of a couple days ago, however, the old marquee was papered over and the window coverings came down. Inside, there are tables, chairs, and a nice woody decor. I suspect it's days from opening. Can't wait!
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Postby GenieU » Fri Mar 16, 2007 12:12 pm

Rosemary wrote:
GenieU wrote:There was a "Rabbit in nut cream sauce" dish I used to like at "Rinconcito Sudamericano" in the Bucktown neighborhood back in Chicago.


I worked down the street from Rinconcito (lived just west of The Crotch), but never ate there. I regret that. I'm in Chicago more often these days, so it's back on the list. Did you live in the neighborhood?


I lived in and around Wicker Park between '89 and 93. Despite the oncomming gentrification it was a pretty boss place to be a slacker...Drank a lot of Old Style and Leinenkugel, consumed plenty of Mexican and Polish food, Contributed minimally to the culture, and met my future and present wife!

Its no accident that there are more than just a smattering of us who ultimatly ended up in Madison.

Peruvian food should be a neat addition to the culinary choices here.
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Postby Rosemary » Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:14 am

GenieU wrote:I lived in and around Wicker Park between '89 and 93. Despite the oncomming gentrification it was a pretty boss place to be a slacker...Drank a lot of Old Style and Leinenkugel, consumed plenty of Mexican and Polish food, Contributed minimally to the culture, and met my future and present wife!

Its no accident that there are more than just a smattering of us who ultimatly ended up in Madison.

Peruvian food should be a neat addition to the culinary choices here.


Was North Point, by chance, open when you were there? It's a Polish/Eastern European restaurant just west of Leavitt on North. I had some really tasty food there, including my first taste of bigos and paczki. Good chicken soup, too. Had a long, leisurely meal there at a table outdoors on one of my days off that left me with good memories.

How about Alliance Bakery on Division? Was that place open then? Their baguettes still haunt me -- a little rougher and more crude than most, the olive and walnut especially. I could eat one in three days.

I agree about the fact that so many of us choose to live in Madison. I grew up with Rockford as my point of reference... now do you understand why I like Madison so much?
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Postby Rosemary » Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:55 am

Okay, forons. I enjoyed a big-ass meal at Inka Heritage on Sunday afternoon, and while it wasn't overly remarkable, I do look forward to eating my way through the menu eventually.

The space is absolutely gorgeous. I'm no architecture expert, but it comes off as colonial to me with the white trim accenting the bright orange walls. Floor, tables, and chairs are all warm tones of wood, and it needs that warmth to give a little intimacy; a space this bare of this size reflects a lot of noise. Whether this annoys you or contributes to a celebratory atmosphere is purely subjective. I dig it, and I would go in a heartbeat if they ever have live music and dancing.

So, upon the recommendation of my server, I drank chicha for the first time. It was described on the menu as, roughly, a purple corn drink with pineapple, apple, and a wedge of lime to garnish. It was delicious, if slightly warm for my taste; the warmth tends to heighten the natural sweetness. I like a different balance. The lime was the perfect touch -- inhaling it while sipping was a sublime combination.

I read a lot of food books, and I'm just beginning to familiarize myself with South American cooking. I saw some familiar dishes and combinations on the menu as a result. Because I've been eating more and new-to-me seafood with a friend lately, I started with ceviche mixto. It's a beautiful plateful (probably at least a pint) of squid, crab legs, octopus, shrimp, and (I think) mussels, garnished with a heap of red onions, chubby hominy, a little Romaine, and two big cooked carrot wedges. I'm no judge of seafood, but everything tasted as fresh as one could want here in the Midwest, and it absolutely screamed with lime juice. You want to grab my attention? Give me limes. I did like the balance provided by the bits of carrot and hominy, though. That earthy sweetness was just right.

So I was happily plowing my way through the ocean of my plate when my entree arrived: seco de cordero, a bit of roasted lamb with a cilantro sauce, accompanied by (I think) pinto beans and a timbale of plain white rice. To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed by the sauce, but then, cilantro is my second favorite herb and I like both being walloped by its freshness and enjoying it as a subtle accent. Its consistency was somewhat between that of chimichurri and pesto with less of the punch of well-made versions of those sauces. Perhaps, too, my palate was shocked by the lime juice and wasn't appreciating the lamb's subtlety as it might've otherwise. The beans were okay -- very tame, tasting of chicken broth, but forkfuls with the lime-y red onion salad on the side (same as on the ceviche, I think) were quite good. And the rice was just the right, less assertive counterpart to the stronger flavors on the plate. The lamb itself was a touch dry, but that seemed to give it an earthy toothsomeness that, again, was a good contrast to the textures of the seafood I was still (!) eating.

No dessert this time -- no room! -- but they did have several on the menu. And it's a nice big menu, too, with several options for my vegetarian pals. As for prices, expect to pay an average of about $10 for starters and $15-20 for entrees. Desserts, if I recall, seemed to be in the under-$10 range.

Please don't let my warm-ish review deter you from going. Having worked in several restaurants myself, I realize it's not always fair to go this early on. But I couldn't resist going its opening weekend. Plus, the place seemed full of the owners' friends, family, and well-wishers. I like that atmosphere. And -- I can't lie -- it's kind of fun to be one of two or three Caucasian faces in a crowd like this. I love to watch families and friends eat and enjoy one another, especially when it's a culture with which I'm a bit familiar. And besides, someone has to be the guinea pig, right?
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Postby GenieU » Mon Mar 19, 2007 12:53 pm

[quote]Was North Point, by chance, open when you were there? It's a Polish/Eastern European restaurant just west of Leavitt on North. I had some really tasty food there, including my first taste of bigos and paczki. Good chicken soup, too. Had a long, leisurely meal there at a table outdoors on one of my days off that left me with good memories[quote]

We used to go to these little hole-in-the wall places where you could get freshly prepared mushroom soup seasoned with dill and black pepper-simple and wonderful. I also used to like little rye loaves from the Baltic bakery. Kasias deli had all kinds of exotic pierogis, like blueberry...and more sausages than you can shake a stick at.

The Atlas Deli here in Madison has a basic Bigos that is just cooked kraut and bits of polish sausage-but full on hunter's stew should also have ham, chicken, and even duck, as well as tomatos-so the kraut takes on a warm red color.

Inca Heritage sounds worth a try at very least. I agree that you gotta give a new restaurant time to get their operation up and running.
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Postby cubanat » Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:31 pm

Had lunch here today. Super friendly waitress from Peru. Attentive and effecient--A+ for service. Food was light at times in flavor, rich other times, I'm not sure we got what we ordered exactly, but everything was tasty and of decent size--B+/A- for food. Decor was great considering waht it used to look like.--A+. The best thing I tasted would have to be the purple corn drink that everyone in th eplace was drinking (that Rosemary mentioned) Mine did not have apples in it, just a lime but MAN ALIVE this was a good drink (if it had vodka in it I would have had 3 or 4 of them). The prices are not cheap. Lunch was over $50 for 2 of us, but we had a lot to eat--just order wisely--apps are bigger than we thought.
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Postby TAsunder » Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:52 pm

Is this place vegetarian friendly? From all descriptions it would seem not, but thought I'd check.
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Postby Rosemary » Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:30 pm

TA, there were some meatless entrees on the menu. You may want to stop in and check it out.
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