I am pretty sure I have mentioned this before, but my previous place of employment was located on Fitzroy street, St Kilda. To go from that wealth of eateries, to a business park with one overpriced option still leaves me very sad (after 3.5 years).
Mind you, this is the only thing I miss about my last job (I can’t miss the people as the all good ‘uns have also moved on).
And living and working in the outer Eastern ‘burbs means that getting down to St Kilda is a bit of a process. So when I booked tickets to go see the queens of hip hop, Salt ‘n’ Pepa, at the Palaise this was a perfect opportunity to experience what Fitzroy street has to offer these days. After a bit of discussion, Circa was declared the winner and a booking was made.
We parked in the underground car park and made our way around to the front entrance on Acland street. In the foyer a gentleman directed us up the stairs to the bar area. The Prince is also a hotel, hence the need for someone to direct the traffic.
The first thing that struck us was the noise. It was almost unbearable. A sunny Saturday night in Spring (a rare occurrence this year) had brought all the pretty young things out to play and it seemed Circa was their chosen watering hole.
I practically had to yell at the girls on the hostess desk to give them my name and booking details. We were led through the bar area and into the slightly quieter restaurant area.
I liked the big bright space, but it was still quite noisy and those from the bar who wanted to have a cigarette had to walk through the restaurant to get to the balcony.
Bread and a lot of butter were offered.
This is J’s caviar spoon next to his steak knife!
We made this dinner our wedding anniversary dinner and celebrated with a bottle of 2004 Dom Perignon, which had an amazing length.
Food wise, J doubled up in the starter department, selecting two options, the first was the 40g of Virgin salmon caviar from the Yarra Valley.
The crackers that were served with the caviar were similar to prawn crackers, but with more flavours (herbs etc). They actually had too much taste to them and overpowered the caviar (I did try one). I think the cracker, toast or biscuit that is served with caviar should be plainer, as its job is to transport the caviar and add some texture, it shouldn’t compete with the caviar for flavour attention.
J also had the yellowfin tuna with Adelaide tomato, black olive and sesame.
He thought the tuna was a bit tough.
I fared better with the smoked quail with parsnip curd and mulberries.
The quail was very moist and tender, but nothing about this dish really wowed me.
For main course we both had steaks (I can’t remember what cuts we had but they all come with burnt onions, truffle mustard and chicory).
Solid steak with plenty of flavour and cooked as requested. J commented that he likes it when the steaks are already cut up, as do I, and it does make it easier for the chef to tell whether it is cooked to the customer’s liking (is this cheating? Discuss).
As sides, we ordered the triple cooked chips with sesame aioli and the new season asparagus with tarragon emulsion.
Awesome chips, but the asparagus came out as broccolini so I sent it back. By the time the asparagus made an appearance, I just wanted to eat it and not take photos of it.
We had finished the Dom, and decided something else was required with dessert; hence a half bottle of Billecart Rose was procured.
This champagne didn’t have the length of the Dom but was still pretty damn fine and a perfect match with our pre-dessert dessert.
We had each ordered a dessert but before that we were given another of the options off the menu, the strawberries and cream with rose geranium.
This was a lovely light refreshing dessert, and I particularly liked the crispy bit, but I still don’t like eating flowers. We are not sure why we received a bonus dish, three theories were that we purchased two bottles on fine wine; I had a camera on the table; an apology for the sides mix up. Who knows, we weren’t complaining.
J actual dessert was rhubarb sorbet with toasted almond, espresso and spiced ginger bread.
So pretty! But J thought there were too many flavours going on for one dish.
I had the single origin chocolate mousse with mandarin, buttermilk custard and cookie crumbs.
A nice dessert, but, like the quail, it didn’t wow me.
We then had to wait for a very long time for the bill to be bought out, collected with our credit card, and then returned.
The staff were perfunctory. They did their job but that was it. No chit chat or the like.
The other thing I will mention is the bathrooms. I normally won’t mention the facilities unless they are totally fabulous but these were the opposite. From the restaurant you have to walk back through the bar area and, for the ladies, up a set of stairs. The smell in the ladies was nasty and I really did think I was going to vomit. Ugh. I don’t know how it could be done, but a separate entrance and separate facilities from the bar area would really improve Circa.
The food wasn’t as good as we had expected (nice, but not great) and there are so many other options both in St Kilda and the city that I probably wouldn’t go back.
The night was made a bit better by getting to see the girls Push It!