Quito's Tastiest Secret

So, I'm a foodie. If there haven't been enough references to eating thus far or Instagram pics of near everything I'm devouring, then let this be my 'fork' in the sand. And I'm starting with a goodie. Sharing this incredible Ecuadorian dining sensation with you in the hope that you will come and visit this incredible country and ensure you head to Urko!
Having spent an evening scouring Tripadvisor for activities and restaurants in Quito, this restaurant particularly caught my eye not just for the incredible reviews, photographs and star rating, but also the brand story and ethos which came through in every experience. Promptly booking a table we spent a Tuesday evening being utterly wowed.

The concept behind Urko is that it exclusively uses locally sourced ingredients, creates unique flavour fusions and the magic is in an open kitchen for all to see! 

"We are cooks with an Ecuadorian identity that seek to connect our guests with our land, its products and its people."

With fantastically fluent English-speaking waitresses telling us the Urko story first-hand, we got to business starting with the drinks order.
Cheers. 
Our waitress recommended either a Macerados or Gin & Tonic as the restaurant's specialities with around eight different mixes of each to pore over. The latter two words rang in my ears and, realising at 7pm it was indeed G&T time, I ordered 'Jengibre' - Spanish for ginger - with garnishes of lemon and grapefruit. It was the perfect refreshing balance of sweet and sour and arrived in a goblet that kept going the entire meal! 
Mr A continued his international craft beer exploration with 'Bonanza', a local red IPA, served in a wine glass no less. A first for Mr A but I think they got a good measure of him!
We were recommended to pick one or two Cucayos (meaning: small bites), an entree and a main each. This was the adult equivalent of being kids in a candy store - the menu was exquisite and there was a mouthwatering selection to choose from. Take a look at the full offering here.

A gift from the kitchen. 
Whilst we could see the chefs getting to work creating our multiple-dish feast, we were delivered "a little thank you gift from the kitchen".
Delivered on a rock were two corn crisps carrying a slice of sweet pumpkin, thyme mayonnaise and garnished with a balsamic vinaigrette soaked lettuce leaf sprinkled with chia seed. Two mouthfuls of heaven and such a tease for the amazing flavours to come. I was Google translating "our compliments to the chef" at this stage! A good sign...

Small bites (of heaven).
The attention to detail in the presentation is not to be overlooked. As a creative person, it totally took this culinary experience to the next level. So no less arriving on a tree branch were the Lamb Croquettes; crispy delicacies filled with an aromatic and tender lamb stew and naranjilla sauceThese are "little bombs of flavour" as Mr A described them! 
Pork & Pitta (a slight deviation from the menu's Duck & Pitta but a testament to their brand truth of fresh and locally sourced meat and the kitchen had sadly sold out!); Yuca pita bread filled with confited duck [read: pork] meat glazed with its own sauce, served with pickled broccoli, carrots and green apple. 
The four little parcels had sweet barbecue tones complimented by its sharper pickled accompaniments.  I was genuinely sad when these were over. If only a small bite constituted eight pittas!

Cheese truffles. 
Mr A and I are total cheese fiends. We've hosted parties and even Christmas Day just as an excuse to source a mean cheese board. So, when a menu presents an opportunity to have cheese earlier than the last course, this was very exciting. 
Enter: Cheese Truffles; Cheese spheres breaded with eucalyptus crumb, organic vegetables, red pepper sauce, pickled mango and crispy apple. What an absolutely genius flavour combination! I think we will dare to attempt recreation back at home! To note, we didn't even speak during this course...it was THAT good. 

The Main Event. 
Promising to share our mains to get more to taste we opted for two rather different dishes. The first, Catch of the Day; Fresh roasted fish scallops covered with a citric peel, over a green plantain “sango”, crispy rice and deep fried fish skin. This arrived in a creamy sauce that had a curry look and feel. The fish texture resembled halibut yet fell apart and was so light that the supporting flavours balanced so well. Topped with a fish skin crisp and a rice base there was the full spectrum of textures. 
A cut above the rest. 
The winner of the main course did go to my choice (a mutual agreement but no surprises when you hear what it was...), Beef Cut; Juicy beef cut with a caramelised onion sauce, roasted garlic, Andean tubers, and sweet corn and cheese purée. Three medallions of beef steak cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection in a caramelised onion reduction with crispy wafers decorated on the top. On the side was a luxurious take on cauliflower cheese if you imagine the consistency of the sauce with roasted root vegetables (sweet potato, baby potato, carrot and mushroom). Very safely in my top 5 meals ever eaten, EVER!

After savouring every mouthful so intently, the slower pace of eating meant we were utterly stuffed, mildly delirious and having to decline dessert. Our whole experience of this restaurant was second to none and a highlight of our time in Ecuador (and rather grateful that as their cultural culinary experiences go, it didn't involve guinea pig!). The evening was complete with their dedicated driver taking us back to our hotel - the quality of the service continued - and we slumped into a food coma. 

2 comments

  1. Replies
    1. I was drooling writing it! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, really appreciate it.

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