This is my second visit to the restaurant formerly known as “Gusto” and known now as “Scola - A Mediterranean School of Thought”. My last visit in its former avatar didn’t go as expected and I chose never to return. So, when finally I did return to the brand new format, I was a bit sceptical.
Thankfully and to my delight, I was terribly wrong in my impression. A fine lunch is what we were after and Scola provided us with one and exceeded all expectations by a grand margin.
We were a large group and the place offers an excellent and minimalist ambience where the focus is on food and service. That is a relief from restaurants high on style and low on food quotient. The owner comes from an illustrious business family and, it is evident that he has devoted his heart and soul to this petite goldmine of Mediterranean delights.
We started our meal with Spanakopitas served with Saffron Aioli. I love the idea of spanakopitas. They’re easy to grab and munch on and these ones were just orgasmically delightful. The subtle bias towards sweet owing to the use of raisins did the trick and the saffron aioli with its sourish tinge resulted in flavours that hit the right notes in the brain. Also served in the aioli base were fresh radish micro-greens, grown organically by the restaurant. Micro-greens are shoots and they capture the first essence of the vegetable. The addition of these micro-greens to dishes at Scola illustrates and enforces the health benefits of a Mediterranean meal.
We also learnt that ingredients are sourced in small quantities and of the highest quality and never in bulk from wholesalers. That is a risky and yet consumer oriented decision which is commendable.
Next, in line we had the Duet of Bruschetta with black olives, feta cheese and creamy mushroom with a parsley dressing. The creamy mushroom was just amazing and though the bruschetta were pretty small, they’re easy to pop and enjoy. A great starter indeed.
The foodgasm continued with yet another winner - Chicken and Olive Skewers that is supposedly served with spicy barbecue sauce, although it was sweet and hence, for me a clear winner. This is yet another dish that has to be eaten slowly and with a smile that will automagically appear once you pop the skewer in.
One of the dishes that has been popular at Gusto and now at Scola has been the Watermelon & Feta salad that features rocket leaves in a lemon vinaigrette dressing and topped with pine nuts and feta cheese. Although a tad bitter for my liking, it is quite a salad indeed and the bitterness of the rocket leaves works when you consider the use of watermelon, which balances out the flavours well.
And now ladies and gents, the starlet of the evening, the showstopper - Hummus Be Lahm. This traditional Middle Eastern dish which originally goes by the name Hummus Bil Lahme contains lamb chunks that are cooked in a dense gravy that is sweet and spicy and served on a bed of hummus. We had this with freshly baked pita bread and it was unputdownable to the last bite. If you’re going to Scola, you must have this in your meal.
Scola also offers freshly baked pizzas that are, thankfully not round, but square. Why didn’t anyone think of this earlier? Square means you can divide it into easy to grab squares and everyone stays happy. The Hells Bells pizza features Coco sauce, Bell peppers, pickled onions, smoked tomato that I can literally feast on by itself and micro greens. This is an amazing vegetarian pizza and even if you’re a non-vegetarian, you must give it a shot.
For those who are diet conscious like the kitty gangs who pride themselves in the figures and looks that take hours of personal training at the gym and long hours at the salon, Scola has Skinny Pizzas which feature no cheese or marinara at all. You have veggies, micro greens and pesto sauce instead. Surprisingly for us all, this was quite amazing as well.
Now, how can a Mediterranean restaurant in the capital of Punjab get away with Butter Chicken? Visit Scola to know how. They’ve reinvented the good ol’Butter Chicken into what they call “Interpretation of Butter Chicken” or simply IOBC. If you’re a Punjabi, you won’t need to say BC after eating this. Chicken breast wrapped like an A la Kiev and filled with butter and mushrooms is set on a bed of zeera aloo with the most amazing makhni gravy drizzled on top. Served with Moroccan style flatbreads and to top it all, smoked with coal in-front of your eyes, this is one interpretation of a classic Punjabi dish that you should definitely try. The chicken is juicy and amazing and the gravy is to die for.
From the pasta menu, we tried the Spinach and Feta Tortellini which I really liked. The handmade tortellini was spectacular and this was served with two huge pieces of garlic bread.
But a good meal ends with a good dessert. Luckily for us, we had the most exquisite homemade tiramisu that was creamy and luscious to the last bite. They also have this incredible incredible Hot Chocolate which consists of molten Swiss chocolate with Dark Rum. Imagine that.
Overall, Scola won me over. I went as a sceptic and came out as a believer. More power to them and I’ll be back soon.