Updated: 11th Oct 2010: this restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.
This is a complementary meal from Circa Restaurant and Lounge.
You have no idea how rough a week it had been for me. There is simply too much work but yet so little time. Thank goodness that there are some wins along the way … and thank goodness there are Fridays!
Suanne and I were back at Circa Restaurant and Lounge yesterday. We were actually in Circa’s a couple of weeks ago for their official launch (we blogged about that event here). The event was not exactly conducive for a tasting. So, we made a return visit to Circa just for that — to really savour their food.
Ever since we blogged about Circa, we were rather surprised by the number of hits from Google searches. It seems that quite a lot of people were aware of this newest restaurant and lounge already. With Circa located right smack in the middle of the Granville Entertainment District in Downtown Vancouver, Circa could very well be a major congregation point on this area. Who knows with the revitalization of Granville to its former glory, this street could be as big as Robson today.
After all, with almost 200-seat dining room, Circa is the largest restaurant on Granville. It is perhaps even the largest restaurant of its style in Vancouver. The restaurant is build from the ground up. One would have thought that Circa is built on an existing building but no, it was built out from an old parking lot. This allows the restaurant to have an unrestricted free hand in the design of a restaurant that allows them to redefine the dining experience.
Spread over the main and mazzanine floors, there are seven distinctly different sections and able to accomodate comfortably after work socials, intimate dining and large group functions. We were drawn to the high ceiling, and walls dominated by white columns, gold leaf edges and elaborate woodwork. In short it was a perfect place to wind down a tough week at work in an intimate environment.
Service was excellent and timing was perfect. We like it when the wait staff came by at the right moment when we are ready. You know sometimes how awkward it is when you need more time to peruse the menu and they came by again and again asking if we are ready. LOL!
Their 2 oz premium cocktails ranges from $8 to $14 (including taxes!). Circa’s cocktails seems to be dominated by fruit juice and puree which were prepared daily. I ordered the Life and Lavender which has Grey Goose La Poire, Giffard Pear, Lavender Honey, Pear Puree and Lemon Juice. Knowing that I light up bright red on strong alcohol, I asked that they half the shots.
Suanne surprised me. She went for a cocktail too (not virgin mind you!). LOL! Her choice was the very lemony juice cocktail called the Lemon Tree. This is Grey Goose, Cointreau and Lemon Juice. She likes it.
Circa’s cocktail are based on classic drinks but made with an unique twist.
We started off with the Pulled Qualicum Pork Poutine ($7). This is the most unique poutine we ever had. Instead of cheese curd and brown gravy, ours had slow cooked shoulder and aged cheddar over hand-cut fries. It was really good and was certainly a fries with a twist. They managed to redefine a very simple Canadian comfort food to something that every could equally love.
What we enjoyed most was this Greek Salad. Simple name but redefined into something more interesting and unique.
They told us … TWICE … how to eat this. We are to push the spoon vertically down and dig out every layer of goodness straight up.
Even though I am not so much of a salad person, I find myself enjoying this immensely. In the bowl are Feta Cream, Cucumber Salad with Basil Oil, Tomato Foam and Mini Crouton.
It is creamy rich and yet refreshingly cool with the cucumbers. The mini crouton was extra crispy and introduces that extra difference in texture — some of the best croutons we had for sure.
We also had the Smoked Scallop and Caesar Salad ($14). This is a Caesar Salad that I had the least amount of Romain Lettuce … just a few fresh cut pieces. It was not the romaine Lettuce that defines this dish. It is mascarpone, smoked scallop and Bacon Tuile that makes this stands out. The romaine lettuce was the supporting cast.
I particularly love the very well made and thinly sliced bacon … they were crispy and nice. I don’t know how they made it so smooth and perfect. Needless to say, the smoked scalloped was given that extra creaminess by the triple cream mascarpone. This is like casesar salad redefined.
At mid meal, Luck Sarabhayavanija (just do yourself a favour and call him Luck!) came by with his pick of cocktails for us. You know what I was impressed with? He picked Suanne’s perfectly … she loves it. Well, except for one small detail … Luck was not aware that Suanne is not used to alcohol. She had it nevertheless and kept on telling me her heart was pounding the whole night long. After the meal, she “floated” all the way to the car. Oh yeah, she loves it — and I think she’s a little drunk. LOL!
The Marget Duck and Caramelized Onion Tart came next. The onion tart was so good. It was a perfect balance of six different but complementary ingredients. The smoked and dry-cured duck breast (he he he … their menu spell that as “dick breast”!) does look perfect doesn’t it? It also has watercress, garlic confit puree and black olive oil.
You know what I think of Circa’s food. Many of their menu items are meant for sharing. It is perfect for intimate sharing if you know what I mean. It’s perfect for sharing on a date. Get a few unique dishes and share — that is how these are meant to be.
The Breasola was another of our favourite. It was at this point when the chef came up to our table to introduce himself to us. We learned that he was pleasantly surprised that we ordered all of his favourite dishes. His name is Segue (pronounced like Segway) and was from Chow prior to joining the team in Circa. It was an honour for Suanne and I to meet the man behind the food.
We were told that the Air Dried Beef were aged 42 days. With the restaurant so new, they actually started aging this way before the restaurant was opened — amazing. Other stuff here were roasted onion and arugula salad, shared pecorino and caper mayonnaise.
Circa described their food as Pacific Northwest Cuisine or more accurately redefined Pacific Northwest Cuisine. I agree with that description. Everything we tasted were unique and redefined in many ways.
We ended the night by sharing a redefined (LOL!) Lemon Tart. Beautiful dessert and they made it so well. Served in an elongated plate, the contrast in taste changes from one end of the plate to the other. The green basil syrup is a good departure from overpowering sweetness. Following close to that was the lemon curd ice cream topped with crispy tuile.
And at the other end was the torched meringue. Simply marvelous.
Suanne and I went away particularly impressed with Circa and believe they have put in all the right ideas to truly make this restaurant one with a difference. Personally, this dinner here in Circa was exactly what I needed to cap off a hectic week at work and wind down … just perfect spending this with Suanne too.