Meals I've Eaten, Issues I've Seen & Operations Advice


Madison Restaurant Week 2014- Inca Heritage

January in Wisconsin brings a bleak reality check for all of us…the holidays are truly over and the gray, cold days and depressing end to the Green Bay Packers season are here to stay.  Thankfully, Madison Magazine’s Restaurant Week arrives at the same time and brings distraction.

Today was Day 2 and what’s better on a Monday than going out to lunch?  My companion and I chose Inca Heritage because of their interesting & adventurous menu options. We hadn’t made reservations, as you often need, but when I called at 11:45 am they were gracious and happy to get us right in.

Inca Heritage is located on the north end of Park Street and only street parking is available, but we found a spot right in the neighborhood with no problem (less than 1/2 blocks walk).  When you walk in the door you are greeted by the vivid marigold colored walls and the wonderfully warm and friendly staff.  Our service continued to be warm and gracious and was also prompt.

Inca 1

For appetizers we chose the Spicy Tuna CausaInca 2 (traditional whipped Peruvian yellow potatoes and aji amarillo with shredded spicy tuna salad) and the Cilantro soup (chicken soup cooked in a base of cilantro with peas, carrots & white rice). The tuna was a lovely presentation and had good texture, but the potatoes were very salty. The spicy cream sauce was a nice balance.  My companion thought the cilantro soup could have had even more cilantro, but I thought it was just right.  It was full of thick pieces of pulled chicken and I loved the addition of peas (not something you encounter is soups too often).

Inca 4For entrees we chose the Adobo Arequipeno (pork marinated in spices & the dried Peruvian red chili Panca. The pork is cooked in a clay pot until it becomes tender and was served with onions, carrots, white beans and white rice. We also chose the dish that was said to be one of the most popular recipes of Peru-the Seco de Carne (a cilantro beef stew served with rice, boiled potatoes and a red onion/cilantro salad in Inca 5lime juice). This little garnish proved to be a key player in the dish when mixed with a bite of the unfortunately dry and not so tender beef. The pork however was very juicy and tender with perfect adobo heat.  The pork was served with simple white beans that had a great texture, but were again, too salty. The vegetables on both dishes, similar to those served in american pot roast, were perfectly done as was the fluffy rice.

Onto dessert…two out of the three desserts offered were milk cakes. One a traditional Tres Leches (which I love) and another that was called Four Milk Cake (why not call it Quatro Leches???)  It seemed odd to us that two very similar sounding desserts were on the same short menu, but we were intrigued so so we ordered them both.

Inca 7The Copa de Tres Leches Cake Frutos del Bosque (a mouthful in itself) arrived in aInca 6 martini glass with a berry reduction and two types of whipped topping (regular and coffee?)  The Four Milk Cake (a mixture of four milks steeped with a touch of cinnamon and poured over a light cake) arrived on a plate drizzled with Dulce de Leche. My companion preferred the Tres Leches because it came in a pool of the three milks and was more moist and flavorful with the berries.  To be honest, I thought they were both quite similar, but equally delicious.  I do think it would have been wiser to highlight another dessert during Restaurant Week but I think ALL restaurants should use the week to highlight and really sell what they do best!

Inca 3Which brings me to my final comment about a drink our server talked us into…the Chicha MoradaThe menu describes it as an authentic Peruvian drink made of “delicious purple corn, pineapple, apple water, cinnamon and a squeeze of key lime juice.  WHAT? Purple corn juice and apple water?  I had to try that based on the fact that I simply haven’t even heard of anything similar and who knew you could drink corn juice?  The drink was deliciously refreshing and packed a surprising punch of flavors.  The easiest way to describe it really is to say that it tasted like grape juice with just a touch of clove. While that might not sound good at all now, it’s worth a try and could easily replace lemonade as a summer drink for me. If you’re not into that much adventure and you don’t have to go back to work, be sure to try the alcoholic Pisco Sour– a drink that originated in Peru in the early 1900’s and is now, I read, the favorite drink of Benedict Cumberbatch. I wish he’d have shown up and had one with me!








Comments are closed.