Since Circa was open for business, my friend and I have been talking about it. We heard about its grand opening and read reviews such as Chow Times’. Now that the Granville strip is reopened, we figured it’s time to give it a try.
Overall, I was very impressed by the food quality. I started with the Southeast Star – a lychee-flavoured drink. It’s fruity with the lychee puree and the alcohol wasn’t too strong. With food, between the two of us we ordered three dishes. We started with the special of the day, Duck Tartare. I have to say that I didn’t know what I got myself into when I ordered the dish. Marinated raw duck meat, really? I never thought I’d eat poultry raw, but I guess I just did. It was not bad actually. At first I expected raw poultry meat to have some funny smell/taste. If there was any, I couldn’t tell because the marinate and green onion did a good job masking it. The pickled garlic and yogurt worked quite well with the tartare as well as the fried onion rings; unfortunately the fried onion rings were a little too hard.
Another shared plate that we ordered was the Bresaola. Personally, I’m not a big fan of arugula salad but combining it with the air-dried beef and the cheese, I found the dish very tasty. I really liked the texture of the meat and it’s flavourful. Last but not least we had the Pork Hock for two. We had to agree with our server that the Shanghai noodles were great, probably the best part of the dish. The pork itself was good; the flavouring was good but nothing spectacular. It’s supposed to be of crispy skin yet it’s more chewy than crispy. On the other hand, this dish was of a generous portion. Although we had two shared plates beforehand, there wasn’t that much food. They were really just appy/salad and they weren’t filling. Perhaps this was a heavy meat dish, we couldn’t finish it all no matter how hard we tried.
Circa’s service was superb!! The server was very attentive and she started out by recommending a couple dishes, something that’s her favourites, and giving us time to think it through. After serving each dish, she would give us time to take pictures (ahem) and try it out, then come back to check on us and ask for some immediate feedback. Of course at times I would prefer that my dinner would go undisturbed, but that evening I didn’t mind the questions. It’s a shame that they had to change our server halfway through the dinner. I didn’t even have a chance to catch the name of our original server and she’s already gone. I probably would’ve given them a bigger tip had the original girl stayed. I didn’t, and I still don’t, understand why they had to move her to another area. Why couldn’t they just assign this new girl to the area and let the girl stay?!
This is where Circa may lose marks. Both my friend and I agreed that it’s a bit of a weird positioning for the restaurant. We liked the decor as they give it a rather sophisticated look. However, with the loud music pumping in the background and sports games playing on TV screens, it speaks lounge. Sure, after all the restaurant is called “Circa Restaurant & Lounge” which means both fine-dining and lounge are included. But they can be two very different concepts. Right now, I’d classify the restaurant as more of a lounge than fine-dining. This would be a good location for a few friends to hang out, grab a drink and order a few dishes to share. I like the secluded room near the back on the ground floor of the restaurant. It sits 12 people and it can be used for a private party.
Although, as the night progressed, I basically had to yell across the dining table to talk to my friend, I’d return to the restaurant for its great food and service. Despite the identity crisis that it may have.
Circa Restaurant & Lounge
Price Range: $20-$30
1050 Granville Street, Vancouver