With a CV including stints at Spanish restaurants El Bulli and El Celler de Can Roca, Alto head chef Carlos Garcia could be expected to take a complex, flamboyant approach. And yet his Caracas restaurant – which opened in 2007 ‒ is a haven of simple, fresh ingredients that are cooked slowly and, says Garcia, “with respect”.
Lauded as an instant culinary icon by several critics, Alto takes ingredients from the local area and adds a touch of high-end technique to create creative fare that’s true to the source material. His plates are simple: home-cured ‘ham’ of tuna with goat’s cheese snow; snapper roe with sweet coconut and ‘pastel de chucho’ – Garcia’s interpretation of a typical Venezuelan dish containing plantains, fish stew and sweet peppers - stand out from an exemplary line-up of beautifully conceived dishes.
From the soft leather chairs and thick, cream tablecloths to the low cocoon-like lighting outside, Alto is all about enjoying food in an undemanding space, offering impeccable service in a dining room dressed in warm shades of brown and white.
Eating should be a pleasure, says Garcia - who was head chef of famed Peruvian restaurant Malabar between 2003 and 2007 - maintaining that while some chefs perhaps rely on showy gimmicks, Alto is more concerned with good old-fashioned satisfaction.