Saturday, July 09, 2005

Circa, St Kilda

Foodies love to bang on about Andrew McConnell, the part chef, part wizard who currently weaves his culinary magic at Circa, the Prince, 2 Acland Street, St Kilda, Tel +61 3 9536 1122. Such are his powers that I am thinking of starting a rumour that he is also, secretly, the Grand Master of the Priory of Sion, or at least one of the Senechaux. This is, after all, the man whose first restaurant was called Diningroom 211. Yes, that's right, 211... a perfect, inverted Fibonacci sequence. Think about that next time you're dining at the The Prince... and order yourself a Bloody Mary... Spooky.

Of course, after the disappointment of Mrs Jones (the Grand Master's other place of business), I arrived at Circa expecting a less-than-magical performance. The breakfast menu's have more than a passing similarity, with matching crumpet, doughnut and croque monsieur offerings, to name just three. So I was worried that my order of scrambled eggs was going to arrive in the style of an overcooked omelette, as it had during last week's visit to Mrs Jones.

Silly me. This was Circa. Holy ground. No mistakes allowed. The scrambles were flawless, and the breakfast experience up there with the very best.

Circa really gets it right at every level. The service is slick from the moment you arrive. The venue is spacious, stylish and comfortable, from the white leather banquettes to the theatrical mini-spots illuminating each table. And the food and coffee are truly excellent. Some of my extras weren't quite deserving of top marks (specifically the bacon skewers, toast and truss tomatoes, all of which were merely good), but just about everything else was. The smoked salmon croque monsieur, for example, was perfectly done, with a layer of dill-and-caper-infused cream cheese protecting the salmon from the perils of too much heat.

If you're careful, the Circa breakfast might only set you back around $20 a head. But throw in a couple of glasses of Pol Roger and you can double that. It's not cheap, but nor should it be. This is a special place.

19/20 "the grand master"

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Blogger Lori Witzel said...

How could there possibly be no comments on this witty, panache-and-calorie-suffused souffle of a post?

While wandering around the pixels I stumbled across your blog, and had to tell you I love your writing style.

Hope you have a wonderful brunch tomorrow.

11/6/06 11:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the description of the dining room and by all means our service was good until about half way through, there was just a shift and I felt as though our waitress got tired of us. We were not demanding by any means.

I had a severe case of breakfast envy. I ordered the waffles with monkey bananas, toasted pecans and sweetened marscapone cheese. Due to the banana shortage I told the waffles would come with big luscious strawberries. If you call strawberries the size of a 10c piece big! Needless to say I was disappointed.

The eggs however did look amazing.

12/9/06 09:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I decided to check this place out after reading some great reviews about Circa but really must say that it came as a big disappointment to me as the smoked salmon was seriously salty (and I mean it)...

had no choice in the end but to gulp down several glasses of water...felt so bloated and uncomfortable after that...not too sure if I'll ever visit them again...

staff wasn't very pleasant either..

8/2/08 07:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Circa spoils breakfast in a couple of ways.

Firstly, even if breakfast were cheap, let alone if one pays Circa prices, why skimp on the toast? Is there anything worse than egg and bacon sorts of breakfasts where you have to dole out the toast to make it last? Is Circa going to go broke if they throw out the odd piece of toast?? I actually talked to the waiter about this, whereupon he brought us extra toast gratis, but that wasn't really the point. The bread was their choice: if you don't like bread with things in it, no amount of free servings is going to compensate.

Secondly, they make a big point that the menu is the menu and there will be no changes. I happen to think that people should be able to get what they want for breakfast. Especially a place like that which is a hotel dining room. I'm staying there for 2 weeks, but I can't get my eggs fried? (Or whatever, some way they won't do today).

Pity, but these things are more important than their good points.

30/5/08 23:34  
Blogger exchef said...

top notch... awesome place. had some smoked trout. was fabulous. also had some smoked trout the other day in clifton hill, at a new cafe. The strong room. food was very very good, place was quite quiet for a sunday. staff were a bit retarded, but its good for a laugh at them and some great food. cheap too. go review it.....

1/4/09 12:44  
Blogger Fluffy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/12/10 16:40  
Blogger Fluffy said...

Re: the Strong Room - don't bother. Just had one of the worst cafe experiences of my life there. Waited 1.5 hours (YES, HOURS) for food to arrive. When it did it was entree sized and a vinaigrette consists of JUST balsamic, apparently.

3/12/10 16:41  
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