4439 Nelson Rd., Lake Charles, LA
There’s a little strip mall on the corner of Nelson and McNeese. It’s nothing extraordinary, just a stucco facade playing host to a grocery store, tanning salon, Painting with a Twist and a few other businesses.
Nestled inside this inconspicuous exterior and its simple sign is a little gem offering Mediterranean cuisine — Toga Grill.
As you walk through the doors, the outside fades and you’re met with people who really want to make your experience pleasant. When my drink order was served, I sipped on a Lebanese beer, and took everything in.
The decor is comfortable and subtle without being over-the-top or stuffy. The small bar area provides most of the color focus. It was a mixed crowd on this particular evening. Some were on a dinner date, some were having an after-work meal. There were a father and son enjoying time together over great food.
Actually, it was these two, sitting across the bar from me, who left me in no doubt that I should order the lamb chops. And I was craving grape leaves for the appetizer. These beautiful little rolls of rice, beef and spices are wrapped tightly in grape leaves and boiled in a zesty lemon broth.
In anticipation of the lamb, I switched to the house red wine. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man coming out of the kitchen, walking proudly with a plate loaded with food — and he was coming right to me. When I say the plate was loaded, I mean it was loaded — seasoned rice and crisp cabbage, creamy hummus, pita, house potatoes and, of course, that lamb.
I sampled everything. It’s easy — and somewhat generic — to say the food was perfect, but, honestly, it was. The grilled lamb was tender and mild, and the flavor profile was balanced without taking away from the true flavor of the meat. The entire meal flowed well with each bite, and the experience was definitely an enjoyable one. I look forward to future visits.