Last week, L and I attended our first Yelp International Supper Club at Inti Peruvian restaurant. Wendy P, the community manager at Yelp, hosts a monthly supper club event for Yelp members to get together to try some of Calgary’s most talked about restaurants. I thought it would be a fun opportunity to meet other like-minded Calgarians while dining at some of the newest restaurants in the city.
Wendy made an excellent choice when she picked Inti. While small in size and minimalistic in décor, I thought Inti’s interior was quite cheery with its sunny yellow walls and colourful Inca motifs. The room is clean and comfortable, full of tables of families and friends enjoying their dinner.
L and I were the first to arrive. While we were waiting for the other guests to arrive, we ordered bottles of Mill Street Organic beer. Wendy P and D soon followed. Wendy – a bonafide cocktail connoisseur, ordered a Pisca, which is a traditional Peruvian concoction of pisco (grape brandy), lime juice, syrup and egg white with ice. The remaining Yelp guests stuck to Inca cola and water. I thought it wise to go easy on the sauce that night – I’ve learned from experience that I’m not nearly as charming as I think, particularly when everyone else is sober.
T, a fellow Yelper and his wife, kindly shared their appetizer with our table – Chicharron Con Yucca Frita. This is an ideal dish to share. The fried pork belly and crispy yucca frita (cassava fries) arrived in a heaping portion with a small container of Salsa de Rocoto and lime wedges. I loved the taste of the pork with the lime juice as the citrus cuts into the saltiness of the pork.
L ordered the Brasa (spicy chicken) sandwich. Though it’s a simple looking sandwich, flavor wise, there is much more going on then meets the eye. The bread is buttery, soft and squishy, the perfect vessel for the mountain of slow roasted pulled chicken. The taste of the chicken is unique – it is spicy but not overwhelming to the point it numbs your taste buds. The chicken was marinated for 24 hours and then slow roasted for another 24 hours in a rotisserie. The result is a complex heat with hints of pimento, rocot and Peruvian hot peppers. The brasa is topped off with creamy, chopped coleslaw and cooked onions. Be warned – it’s a messy sandwich – if there is an elegant way to eat this sandwich, L hasn’t found it. He picked the house salad as his side dish, which turned out to be a refreshing accompaniment to the fiery brasa. I was impressed with the side salad – the vegetables were very fresh and it was clearly not from any prepackaged bags. The side bowl was large and filled with crisp chopped romaine, carrots, buttery slices of avocado and diced tomatoes. The lime dressing has a pleasant zing to it –the tartness of the citrus cuts into the creaminess of the dressing.
I think the dish that really shows off Chef Puccinelli’s (owner of Inti) skill is the Lomo Saltado (beef tenderloin). It’s a “hungry man” serving of stir fried beef tenderloin, red peppers, red onions, smothered in a rich gravy, and heaped all over fries and white rice. The beef and vegetables are individually flame cooked in a wok, which gives it a smoky flavor. The onions were sweet with a little bit of crunch, while the red peppers were cooked until it was silky smooth. As the plate cooled down, the juices from the beef soaked into the fries, making each bite more flavourful than the previous. My plan was to eat only half the plate and save the rest for tomorrow’s lunch. This plot quickly dissolved as I helplessly surrendered to the flavours of the lomo saltado.
Inti’s Peruvian restaurant has a talented chef that serves cuisine exotic to Calgary. Keep in mind, the inexpensive prices do not reflect the high quality of the food or the obvious care and thought in which it’s cooked. We’ll be back soon – most likely between Thursday to Saturday for Chef Puccinelli famous ceviche (raw wild red snapper marinated with lime juice).