Just in time for French national day, I discovered a very chic restaurant that serves up not just French cuisine but also Italian. La Scala is nestled in the premises of the Musical Society of Nigeria Center, Onikan (MUSON), home to classical music nationwide. It’s strange how I’ve been to the Center so many times and never noticed the restaurant. So for those who have been just as oblivious of this hot spot, you are welcome.
The Ambiance: La Scala does its best to pay homage to both French and Italian influences with its decor. There is also an infusion of African and even Buddhist artifacts and artworks which work seamlessly together to create the elegant atmosphere. The large table seating and classical music wafting gently in the atmosphere was somewhat reminiscent of a scene out of one of the famous ‘godfather’ movies.
The Menu: At first glance the eight pages, categorized into soups, meats, fish, poultry, salads and vegetarian, did not seem intimidating. However ordering food seemed like an advanced French class, quite a tongue twister. Escargots `a la bourguignonne was just one of the words I had to pronounce, and all that boils down to snails in garlic butter sauce.
The Entree: To be honest, asides the soups, which were pretty pricey, all the starters were a bit ridiculous. The first thing I ordered was something called a Carpaccio, which was described as thin slices of marinated beef topped with parmesan, safe enough. The waiter looked me dead in the eye and goes, ‘Can you eat this?’ And I retorted with an attitude filled” YES!!I have teeth,” rolling my eyes. He smiled and explained to me that my beloved Carpaccio was RAW MEAT!! So let’s say that the complimentary bread rolls and butter was more than enough for me.
The bread rolls were soft and warm and served with just enough salted butter.
The first hot meal was the “Supreme de volaille `a l’orange” (yes it’s okay to bite your tongue trying to pronounce that). This meal is essentially two thinly sliced strips of chicken, sautéed in fresh cream and orange sauce. It also comes with a side serving of plain white rice.
The sauce was really exquisite, but the corn, peas and carrots swimming in it just reminded me of a bag of store bought mixed vegetables. The flavours from the vegetables did not blend too well with the orange sauce, and just distracted from the rich flavour of the sauce.
The chicken on the other hand was amazingly seasoned and cooked to perfection. The second main meal was the “La Tamboure exotic” aka grilled croaker fish in a Hawaiian spicy pineapple sauce. This was a really bold choice for me, because I absolutely hate all types of fish, but after tasting this, I just might have a change of heart.
Two generous slices of spicy grilled fish on a plateau of mashed potatoes surrounded by pineapple sauce with diced peppers and pineapples in it was really an amazing burst of flavours all at once.
The slice of lemon squeezed on the fish gave it a zesty flavour. Simply ambrosial.
Dessert: For dessert I was expecting a continuation of the French theme with chocolate pastries or airy soufflés, but I was disappointed with the mundane option of either ice-cream or fruit salad. It was as though whoever designed the menu just couldn’t be bothered to think of anything unique.
The ice-cream was rich and creamy but honestly, I could get that any good ice-cream spot in Lagos.
Wine: What’s a French restaurant without wine eh? La Scala has an extensive supply of wines and champagnes (which I spied some bishops knocking back).
If you are staying away from the bottle, not to worry they make a mean and affordable Chapman, and you can pretend it’s red wine.
Portion Control: I actually expected the meals to be much smaller, so I was pleasantly surprised that each meal could feed a party of two. The idea is not to get stupid full. If you have a really healthy appetite, then a plate should be just fine for you.
The Staff: The waiters were clearly heaven sent as they saved me from ordering raw meat. They are excellent food guides. Make sure you ask them for their recommendations, they’ll be sure to help you make edible choices.
Like all fine dining, La Scala is NOT CHEAP!!A three course meal for two will set you back about N 15,000.
Pocket change for some but not for all. But if you are looking to impress, this is the perfect setting for a power lunch to broker some multi-million transaction or just a cute dinner for two, your call.
La Scala is open for lunch from 12-3pm, and dinner’s served from 7-11 pm. They've added an extra 30 minutes.