When I hit a lunch buffet, I’m squarely focused on three things: quality, volume and price. Service? Just point me towards the groaning tables of steamer trays. But *Inti Restaurant, a fairly new Peruvian restaurant in a northeast Calgary strip mall, nails all aspects of a great buffet dining experience, for only $16.
First and foremost, there’s the excellent and rather exotic Peruvian cuisine. It starts with what, for me, is the meal’s highlight, a spicy chicken soup with peas, which I accompany with a tangy squid and shrimp ceviche. Of course, this is followed by two platefuls of pork stew with potatoes and peanuts, rotisserie chicken, savoury kidney beans and fried yucca. Surprisingly, there’s also a tray of ginger beef, a nod to a post-World War 2 influx of Chinese immigrants to Peru; who knew?
Purple corn makes an appearance in a house-made fruit drink, chicha morada, and a fruit dessert. Apparently, purple corn is good for high blood pressure. Need more dessert? A friend sings the praises of the coconut rice pudding, but I’m too stuffed to join in.
Good as the food is, it may be topped by the interaction with our lovely host, Consuelo. Her son, Hans Puccinelli, officially owns the family-run place, but he’s ensconced in the kitchen. That leaves Consuelo to come by with clean plates, menu explanations and suggestions. By the time we leave, we’ve heard about the family’s migration from Peru to Canada, and Consuelo is imploring us to come for a future pisco sour tasting.
Note: Inti is a favourite hangout for star chefs John Jackson and Connie DeSousa, when they’re not busy running their Charcut Roast House.
208, 3132 26 Street NE, Calgary
Lunch Tuesday to Saturday 11:30 am- 2 pm, Sunday noon-2 pm, dinner Tuesday to Sunday 5 pm-9 pm. Closed Monday