Saturday, November 29, 2008

Circa - St Kilda

Name: Circa @ The Prince hotel

Address: 2 Acland
St Kilda 3182 VIC
Phone: (03) 9536 1122

Food: European, French and Modern Australian
Average price: Entree - $25, Main - $43, Dessert - $20
Complimentary: 2 mulit-grain cheese rolls with a small dish of butter.
We ordered:
Complimentary: Choux pastry with goats cheese and walnuts.

The choux pastry was cold and the goats cheese was running out of the bottom like water. Not very nice.

Entrees: Wild rabbit raviolo, braised celery riesling foam, sel saveur - $24.
Ryan didn't like it and the serving was a little small. (It's hard to get specific information out of him other than 'I like it' and 'I don't like it'.

Summer vegetable salad - $21.
This was average, just steamed vegetables with vinegar and cream. Some of the radishes and turnips(?) were quite bitter. They also sprinkled coriander everywhere which was a little annoying as I can't eat coriander (genetic trait passed down, it tastes like a chemical in my mouth).

Mains: slow cooked lamb shoulder brik, rack and sweetbreads, pumpkin, fabales, basil sauce - $46.

Ryan hated the lamb shoulder brik, it was dry and the sweetbreads were weird. The lamb rack was nice though.

Coral trout with avocado puree - $41.

This was originally an entree that they turned into a main for me - I also ended up getting snapper, not coral trout. It would be awesome as an entree but as a main it became a little boring to eat and tasted less great with each bite. The fish was perfectly cooked, a little oily, but still great. The avocado puree was quite sweet and played up the tart sweetness of fruit in the medley of chopped vegetables. Each mouthful had a large number of flavours, with a vinegar tang in each bite. It just got a little too much after 10 mouthfuls.

Complimentary: Lemon Posset with a raspberry.
The raspberry was lovely and fresh whilst the lemon posset was a little runny and grainy.

Desserts: Circa snickers II - $21.
When I ordered this I was thinking of something that definitely contained a lot of chocolate - I was wrong.

The salty caramel layer on the top was really lovely, however I was not in the mood for something cold so the honeycomb ice cream layer didn't really appeal to me and it made the chocolate crumb base a little soggy. The zabagione (not sure what it was exactly) was a lovely accompaniment as it enveloped the flavours in a warm, airy sweetness, however the chocolate foam (?) didn't add anything. It was nice, but not what I expected.

Banana parfait, honeycomb, rum, sesame, chocolate sorbet - $19.
Ryan liked this, especially the honeycomb and rum in the chocolate sorbet.

Cost: $195 - 2 entrees, 2 mains, 2 desserts, 3 bottles of water.

Service: OK. We made our booking through Amex Centurion as Circa is a centurion restaurant which means they have to hold a table until 10am on the day. After I made the initial request Amex called me back to let me know that we would have to leave at 8:30pm as our table had a booking then. I informed them that we wanted to order the degustation (around 9 courses) so we would not be able to leave at that time. Amex told me they would call the restaurant back and let me know if this was possible, if not I would book a different restaurant.
I received an email notifying me that we had a reservation at 6:30pm, the degustation would take 3hours and as we were Centurion members they would no longer need the table back at 8:30. So I thought, great! Circa it is.

Unfortunately when we arrived 15mins late (we called to let them know we would be 15mins late due to unexpected traffic) we were told by the manager that we could not order the degustation as we had to be out by 8:30. I informed him of the email confirmation I had received which he brushed off by informing me that he himself took the reservation and did not agree to let us stay past 8:30.
Obviously I was upset as the whole reason we were there was to order degustation for my partners birthday, if I had known we would have less than 2hours to eat I would have booked somewhere else. I rang Centurion when I arrived home to find out how the mistake happened. It turns out that the second time the Amex representative called he spoke to a different person who obviously did not pass on the information to the manager which is why we were asked to leave by 8:30 rather than given a table which would allow us to order the degustation.

To top it off we were asked what we would like to drink, we responded water as usual, to which the waitress asked whether we wanted still or sparkling. In most restaurants, still means tap water which is offered at no extra charge (Melbourne has awesome drinking water so almost everyone drinks straight from their tap). They brought bottled water which we assumed would be free of charge as they did not offer tap. Right at the end of the evening the table next to us requested water which the same waitress responded 'still, sparkling or TAP'. We then realised that we would probably be charged for the bottled water (which they continued to top up without asking). The bottled water ended up costing $18, a little annoying as we wanted tap water which is free but was not offered to us.

Atmosphere: The decor was lovely, although I'm not too sure about the 'stage-like' lighting that was on rails across the ceiling. The black and pink gauze gave the room a whimsical feel whilst the cane lights and pink peonies were really romantic. It is a very small room with white leather booths and large circular tables.

We went at 6:30 and it didn't start to fill up until 9pm. While we were there the noise was minimal but once everyone started arriving it started to get quite noisy. The vibe was a little 'off' - like the room is full of 'people on first dates' weird.

The restaurant is located within The Prince hotel, so do not wear jeans or dress casual as the restaurant mimics the hotels trendy but upmarket vibe.

Parking: Not good. It all depends on when you go as street parking gets taken up very quickly, and most have hour restrictions. The Prince hotel has car parking but the spaces are really tiny and hard to get out of.


Hours: Sun-Fri 7am-11am, noon-3pm
daily 6.30pm-10.30pm

Would I return: No. Food wasn't good enough to warrant a return, let alone the service.

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