Pollo Inka has opened up on Madisn’s far west side (See here for location and hours). Fans of Peruvian food, but aware of the sparseness of such a restaurant in Madison, we stopped in for lunch recently to give it a try.
We left very pleased, and eager to go back again – soon.
Opening in January, the restaurant was doing a relatively healthy business the day that we stopped in. Upon entering, one could not help but notice the aroma of rotisserie chicken filling the room. And this is a good thing.
Lunch started with an order of Ceviche Mixto ($11.95). This ceviche was made up of chunks of fish, calamari, shrimp and mussels, marinated in lime juice, garlic and chili. The shell it was served on was balanced on both sides by mounds of sweet potoatoes. Other ceviches available include fish only, shrimp only and mushrooms only.
For the main courses, we tried the lunch special, which was a quarter of a rotisserie chicken (6.95) which included a house salad and a choice of rice & beans, french fries, maduros (sweet plantains) or tostones (green plantains). We also tried the Aji de Gallina ($9.95), a shredded chicken casserole with walnuts and parmesan, mixed with boiled potatoes, with hard-boiled egg and black olives on top. This was served with a side of rice.
We enjoyed the rotisserie chicken. We often say that the true test of a restaurant is to order their chicken. It is so easy to do chicken wrong. This was far from wrong, being moist, tender and very flavorful. The house salad that it was served with was a bland shredding of iceburg lettuce - until you added the homemade dressing. When asked what was in the dressing, our server explained that it was a secret even from him, stating, “Our chef makes sure we aren’t around when she makes it!”
Another element that brought a burst of flavor to the chicken was the chili sauce. Spicy enough to cause a nice, slow heat, yet not so spicy that it was overwhelming, this sauce was a really interesting addition to the chicken.
The Aji de Gallina was on the surface quite bland. There was something satisfying about it, however, if one looked at it from a comfort food standpoint. Admittedly, we did add some of the chili sauce that had been served with the chicken into the dish to spice it up, and that punched up the flavor tremendously. Next time, we’d deliberately order chili sauce on the side to add to this dish.
We liked Pollo Inka a lot. We’d go back there any day over many of the restaurants in the area, particularly the same tired old chains. It is our hope that Madisonians support a small, local and unique restaurant such as this.