The first time I encountered La Casa was stumbling lost in London with my ex-boyfriend from first-year of university. We were looking for a nice restaurant to go to on Valentines Day (because we forgot to get a reservation). We eventually ended up next door at Abruzzi’s, but my weakness for gourmet Italian food has always left me wondering. In a way, La Casa felt like the one that got away.
After perusing the menus for Londonlicious, I was really excited to go revisit La Casa with a different state of mind. Unlike most of my foodventures, I went alone because it just felt weird to have that memory of that ex dangling above my head. I wanted to experience this alone, and to renew my impression of this place.
I walked into the place awkwardly – it’s always a little weird for me to eat alone. In my mind, food is meant to be shared with loved ones. The place looked elegant: there was a dark oak bookshelf in the wall covered in books and trinkets that transported me to 80-days-around-the-world era. In the background, smooth jazz music was playing.
The staff was friendly – they whisked me over to a booth adorned with plush jewel-coloured cushions and served a dish of warm bread.
The bread was nothing remarkable, but the olive oil had an earthy, almost grassy flavour to it. We were off to a slightly above-average start.
When the waiter approached me, I asked a couple questions about the food: what he recommended, what he thought was the best representation of the restaurant, and went with the chicken parmigiana and the amaretto crème brulee; without knowing about my voracious appetite, the waiter and I shared an interesting interaction.
“Are you very hungry?”
“I’m always down for food.”
“Well then, this magnifico dish will be perfect. I eat this myself!”
The chicken parmiagiana was served over a bed of traffic-light red sauce and linguine. On top of that, a sprig of rosemary that added a sense of elegance to the dish. The chicken just had a faintest trace of pink, but felt stringy and dry. The first disappointment. It was also under seasoned and didn’t have much flavour to it, other than sad; the linguine was slightly mushy and almost disintegrated like a Listerine strip.
Amaretto is not one of my favourite flavours, but crème brulees certainly are one of my favourite desserts. I tapped the top of my crème brulee with my spoon and more disappointment, that satisfying crack did not happen. In fact, the sugar on top made my teeth stick together. Each bite felt like pulling teeth, quite literally. However, hidden underneath was a creamy, self-indulgent custards. It felt like a silky 400-thread count Egyptian cotton melting into my mouth. The sweet taste of vanilla embraced all my taste buds and felt warm, despite its cooler temperature. Nothing felt as satisfying as when my spoon clinked the bottom of the ramekin.
Now having tried this Italian restaurant that I keep walking by, I can say that I can finally move on. Though the overly hyped up main course failed to live up to expectation, La Casa was not a bad experience. It was saved by the bell – the dessert was a beautiful finale that really lived up to the saying “saving the best until last.”