El Mercado restaurant has been a gastronomic landmark in the city of Cuenca since it opened its doors in 2014. Today, Ñan and Güitig visit its beautiful facilities by El Barranco to learn all about what makes it so special.
The “market to table” concept makes perfect sense in a restaurant that is literally two blocks away from Mercado 10 de Agosto, the most important in Cuenca’s historic center. You can imagine it: receiving a basket of freshly harvested products that leave the kitchen smelling of fresh vegetables. With the right seasoning, the ease and talent of incorporating ingredients in a creative way, creating unique dishes becomes simple. Of course, it’s simple for those who know how to do it.
Simplicity is a luxury
Chef Fabricio Medina has developed an entire art to put the gastronomic concept of his kitchen into practice. The menu, of course, features classic dishes like fritadas, ceviche, locro, and seco – fresh dishes made with care in the details that come from the extensive culinary legacy of our country. But you’ll also find burgers, platters – El Mercado really serves it all. The difficult part, of course, is choosing.
When we asked if those were the dishes that distinguish the restaurant, he refrained from answering directly. It’s undoubtedly a very extensive menu, full of colors and aromas. But Fabricio wants to surprise us. And we suspect that the possibility of “surprising” a guest is a central part of his culinary vision. The amazing art of creating a gourmet dish out of nothing: from the mere basket, from what most identifies the restaurant by name, and what, in his words, “allows him to grow as a chef.”
Simplicity is anything but simplicity. It’s being so immersed in what you do that you make the difficult and sophisticated look simple. That’s why Fabricio wants to prepare something for us that demonstrates these qualities. An exclusive dish; a daily special that melts in our mouths, as simple as coming back from the market, grilling a juicy catch of the day, and combining it with what one has on hand.
The result was simply fantastic!
Oranges, carrots, artichokes…
The dish Fabricio created for us is very fresh, light, full of flavors and textures, made with a catch of the day – a previously grilled corvina.
As accompaniments, he included a carrot puree, a touch of butter to provide creaminess to the dish; a salad of orange supremes, olive oil, and parsley; and grilled artichokes. Let’s dig in!
As a first step, Fabricio placed the carrot puree on the base of the plate, to which he added a second texture of carrots baked and then browned on the grill (worth noting the tip of combining multiple textures of an ingredient!).
On top of the carrots, he added the juicy corvina fillet, previously grilled until it starts to release its juice.
On top, the salad: orange supremes marinated in an olive oil and parsley vinaigrette.
Then he added the artichokes, also previously grilled, and poured a delicious Menier sauce over them, a classic sauce made with fish – corvina, salmon – based on butter, lemon juice, and cooked, also on the grill.
To crown his creation, he added watercress for decoration: it gives an acidic touch to the dish, ideal for a warm day; a dish that, in its final state, is extremely refreshing – the perfect pairing, undoubtedly, for a cold Güitig!
An exclusive invention that transforms the rusticity of the market and its fresh products.