Last week Daniela and me decided to celebrate our "anniversary" eating out in Jena's top restaurant: Scala. With a small kid chances to go out are quite drastically reduced (thanks for baby-sitting Ramona), so for once we decided to splurge. Here top has two meanings. First the obvious one as in "the best", although some consider the kitchen of the hotel Schwarzer Baer better. Second without doubt the highest restaurant in the city. Scala is in fact located on the 28th floor of the former University tower, also known as Keksrolle (cookie roll) or "phallus Jenaensis"... ehm... Jena's masculinity.
We had eaten there once before and I had mixed feelings: we had a delicious oxtail consomme', a nice herb crusted filet but a disappointing carpaccio and so-so dessert. The atmosphere is quite elegant and clearly one has a great view of the city (no restaurant for those afraid of heights).
Apart from ordering a la carte one can chose between two, IMO quite price-worthy, menus: a 30 Euro menu (soup, main and dessert) and a 50 Euro one (as before plus appetiser and a second main). We were not so intrigued by the 30 euro menu and had unfortunately not the time necessary for the 50 one (due to baby-sitting arrangements). The items on the carte had only partially changed (oxtail soup, carpaccio and filet steak still there). After a pleasant black apricot raviolo with saffron sauce amuse-buche we both chose to start with the duck breast/quail appetiser: duck breast lightly smoked and quail hind quarters served with raspberry-horseradish, iceplant and a lentil salad in a matchbox potatoes basket. The duck breast was great and the raspberry-horseradish sauce a pleasant discovery. The only no-no point was the matchstick potatoes basket: cold fried items just don't taste good (cold fries anyone?). While Daniela chose the filet steak again I tried the rabbit. I really like rabbit, and was not disappointed. On the plate came the braised leg, very tasty, the filet, with a delicate herbs stuffing, laying on a bed of honey parsnips (which I usually don't like but these were good) and surrounded by a few schupfnudeln, a sort of elongated gnocchi panfried with butter. Definitely the high point of the evening for me. My dessert was not so breathtaking. A chocolate puff pastry filled with tea cream and surrounded by small gianduia ice slices. Cream and ice were fine but the puff pastry was disappointing, having no crunch at all. Given the mainly meaty nature of our dishes we went for a red wine, Tormaresca, from the new property of the Antinori family in Apulia. Nicely fruity and spicy. The wine choice has improved but still very few open wines and no half bottles.
On the whole I got the feeling that the general quality improved from our last visit. The kitchen also dropped the quite forced vertical decorations (to remind the tower) which IMO is a plus. The service has also become a bit more formal, which is not necessarily what I like but understandable for an establishment that has many business costumers.