Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Alma Restorante

Alma Restorante, located within the Casa Andina Private Collection Sacred Valley hotel in Urabamba, Peru offers a very wide variety of dishes with regional flavors. Breakfast buffet and a la carte lunch and dinner service are available.

We stayed at this Casa Andina hotel as our rest stop before visiting Machu Picchu.  The hotel itself is quite remote, and thus we ate at the hotel restaurant by default each night.  The decor was pretty modern and the menu offered mostly Americanized options to fit the tourist clientele. 

Both nights, we enjoyed the Bodega Tabernero, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Chincha, Peru.  Neither of us had tried Peruvian wine yet, and found this one to be quite smooth with subtle hints of smoke.  It was very easy to drink, and the bottle's label highlighted accolades received from Spain and France. 

On the first night, I was famished since we had traveled all morning and did not really get a chance to eat lunch.  So for an appetizer, I ordered the Crispy Quinoa Chicken Salad with apples, goat cheese, bacon, and honey vinaigrette.  The chicken was a bit dry, but I liked the unique crunch that the quinoa coating gave.

Keith ordered the Corn Creamed Soup with smoked trout and Andean cheese curds.  The soup had interesting flavor from an herb I couldn't quite place, and the local trout was pink and very smoky.  The cheese curds were squeaky, and kind of odd in the soup.  But overall, Keith really liked this starter.

For my main course, I wanted to carbo-load since we were climbing Machu Picchu the next morning.  I ordered the Andean Mushroom and Sundried Tomato Risotto with cheese cappuccino, and eggplant, asparagus, and ham caneloni.  The cheese was very overpowering, and the 'cappuccino' was a sweet balsamic sauce.  The eggplant was so thinly sliced, that it had no flavor.  It was not the best entree, but it filled me up.

Keith ordered a more local specialty with the Grilled Alpaca.  It was served with "ulluco" potatoes, with a purple corn and port sauce, and topped with a small orchard salad.  Keith found the alpaca meat to be better than he thought it would be. They recommended medium, so he ordered that temperature, but feels medium-rare would have been better. The meat tasted a little like venison mixed with lamb. It was very lean and he found the sauce to be quite sweet.

On the following night, we returned to Alma for dinner.  Surprisingly, I did not have that big of an appetite, so I ordered something off their 'lighter fare' side of the menu, the Vegetable Ravioli.  It was served with a simple butter sauce and Parmesan cheese.  This pasta dish also paired well with the same Peruvian Cabernet Sauvignon we enjoyed the first night.

Keith ordered the starter of Beef Carpaccio. The meat was sliced thin, but the sauce was overpowering.  Also, the plating was reminiscent of "late 90s fancy". The dish would have been better if it was presented more simple (that could apply to most of the dishes).

He also ordered the Ox Tail that came with quinoa risotto and Andean cheese.  The serving was small, but the meat was tender.  The sauce was different - almost a spicy tomato sauce.

As a last splurge, we decided to shared the Pecan Pie for dessert. It was served with cherimoya (breadfruit) ice cream and fresh passion fruit.  The pie was thick and topped with a sticky chocolate sauce.  The ice cream was such a unique flavor, and quite addictive.  Again, the plating was a bit 90s flashback, but it still tasted good.

Overall, we had excellent service both nights at Alma Restorante.  We also enjoyed buffet breakfast there each morning.  The staff was genuinely warm and friendly with their greetings, and very professional with linens and etiquette.  The food was not the best, but was geared towards the American palate.  For being the only dining option nearby, it was satisfactory.

Total Rating: 3.63
Food: 3.5, Price: 2.5, Service: 5, Ambience: 4.5, Accessibility: 5

What I ate:
Crispy Quinoa Chicken Salad
with apples, goat cheese, bacon, and honey vinaigrette

Andean Mushroom and Sundried Tomato Risotto
with cheese cappuccino, and eggplant, asparagus, and ham caneloni

Vegetable Ravioli
with simple butter sauce and Parmesan cheese

Pecan Pie
with cherimoya ice cream and passion fruit

Plus Keith ate:
Corn Creamed Soup
with smoked trout

Grilled Alpaca
with "ulluco" potatoes, with purple corn and port sauce, and orchard salad

Beef Carpaccio

Ox Tail
with quinoa risotto and Andean cheese

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