This review of a Madrid restaurant is a break from The Picky Glutton’s usual London-based coverage.
One of the pleasures of dining in other countries is that you get to try cuisines underrepresented or entirely absent from London. Inti de Oro is a classic example – a Peruvian restaurant hidden away in a back alley near the Spanish Parliament in Madrid. If you weren’t looking for it, you would never find it. I was eager to try Peruvian food for the first time, if only because Wicket will soon be trekking in the Peruvian Andes and I wanted find out what gastronomic delights the furry little fellow was letting himself in for.
Entering Inti de Oro for the first time is a shock. The decor is a textbook example of chintzy cheesiness with a giant mural of Machu Picchu and a Peruvian peasant dominating one wall, while llama pelts and tapestries line the others. To top it off, the waitresses are dressed in what I assume is traditional Peruvian clothing and there’s live music from a chummy Mexican bloke. The staff don’t speak much English though and the menu isn’t available in English, so unless you have a good grasp of Spanish, you’ll just have to wing it like I did.
The amuse bouche was a small sample of chicken in a fruity sauce with a spicy after taste. For some reason there was an extra helping of the sauce for the table, even though it didn’t really go with any of the dishes I ordered. In any case, it’s not a bad way to tantalise one’s taste buds while waiting for your menu selections.
I started with ceviche, a classic Peruvian dish of raw fish and seafood marinaded in lime juice. There are a couple of variations available, but I went for the ceviche mixto which consists of squid, prawn, octopus, a fish that was probably sea bass or sea bream and another white fish I couldn’t identify along with some small scallops. The chef did cheat though – the prawns and octopus were cooked and there were precious few scallops. It was still a large portion of fresh seafood with an incredibly tart, spicy taste that was complimented well by the corn-like beans and sweet potato. It’s not the best ceviche in Madrid, but it beats the pants off the ones I’ve had in London.
Believe it or not, there is a ton of seafood under all that.
I continued the seafood theme with my main course with what I thought would be a spicy prawn dish. What I got wasn’t especially spicy, but it did have plenty of prawns although they didn’t taste especially fresh. They were doused in a creamy, slightly herby, vaguely tomato-ish curry-like sauce accompanied by a big helping of large grained, buttery rice. Not bad, but if I didn’t know better I’d swear I was eating an Uncle Ben’s ready meal.
For dessert I opted for the plum jelly which had a gooey, viscous texture somewhere in between a jelly and a jam. The strong tangy, sugary taste reminded more of prunes than plums. It was pleasant in a dreamy, retro, child-like way but I doubt I would order it again.
Judging Inti de Oro is a little tricky since it’s my first experience of Peruvian food. The ceviche was fairly good, although the kitchen had clearly cut corners. The rest of my meal was merely satisfactory. I wouldn’t mind returning, but I’d be surprised if Inti de Oro is the best Peruvian restaurant in Madrid. Three stars.
Name: Inti de Oro
Address: C. Ventura de la Vega, 12, 28014, Madrid, Spain
Phone: +34 914 291 958
Opening Hours: daily 13.30-16.00, 20.30-midnight.
Reservations: probably a good idea.
Total cost for one person including mineral water: €33 (approx. £29)