Akelarre (Ah-ka-Lah’-Re): In the Basque region of Spain the name means “meeting of the witches.” In Cuenca, it’s a jewel of a restaurant located in Hotel Inca Real at General Torres 8-40, between Sucre and Simon Bolivar.
As you enter the restaurant, just to the left of the hotel entrance, you discover a rich European-Bistro ambiance. Go through Akelarre into the hotel registration courtyard you find a bit of old Spain in space shared by the restaurant and the hotel registration desk. Be sure to wander through the courtyards beyond: a second, where doors to sleeping rooms are sometime open for you to peek into, and further, into a third, very private courtyard. Not only will you want to eat here but you’ll want to recommend this charming hotel to visiting friends.
There are 16 items on the extensive tapas menu, ranging in price from $1.80 to $8 per plate. I especially enjoyed the Akelarre namesake, bacon, garlic and mushroom en crute topped with mozzarella, for only $1.80. Crepes are offered both Sal y Dulce, for $2 to $4.70, including Crepe Suzettes at the top of the range.
Sandwiches are delicious and nicely presented…they have a big hamburger deluxe with all the trimmings and fries. Salads range from $3.50 to $6. Be careful if you are tempted by either the Salad Nicoise or the Salad De La Huerta, because their descriptions are reversed; in other words, if you want a Nicoise, make it clear that you want the preparation described under the Del La Huerta. And, be sure to ask for balsamic vinegar if you like it, rather than the white vinegar that is automatically brought to the table (this seems to be the norm here in Cuenca).
Entradas (appetizers) include a variety of soups, ceviches and even a shrimp cocktail for $3-$5. Main courses include pasta, trout, salmon, beef, chicken and on Sundays (only) Paella is prepared by special order. These entrees range in price from $4.50 to $8. Desserts run from $2 to $2.50 and the Crème Brulee is mouth watering.
By the way, I found the service to be impeccable.
The bar offers a full selection of spirits, cocktails, wine, beer, sodas, espresso, cappuccino, chocolates, waters, Sangria and pitchers of wine for $1 – $8. There’s a big screen TV in the Bistro for soccer viewing and other special programs.
Akelarre is open Sunday through Friday from 11 am to 10 pm, on Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm and 6 to 10 pm, and is closed on Mondays. For further information, call 282-3636. For more information about the hotel, go to www.hotelincareal.com.ec. One of the truly hidden treasures of Cuenca.
Photo caption: You can choose to dine in the courtyard or the bistro at Akelarre; Photo credit: Penny Ripple