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Circa is a fabulous spot for a drink before dinner. Most of the Mt Lawley bars are on the Beaufort St stretch before Walcott St, so it’s great finding a classy bar further up on Beaufort St.  It’s a long narrow bar with a mezzanine level, and the fittings are pure European. The owner had the bar made in Europe at great expense, and the other fittings dotted around the bar are different to what you see in many small bars these days. Not an exposed brick or shabby chic item in sight. That may be why the hipster crowd is not breaking the doors down, but hey, I love finding cool local places that make a baby boomer feel welcome!  And the staff at Circa do that in bucket loads.

My first visit to Circa was for pre-dinner drinks with a group of friends a few months ago, so having checked out the menu on that occasion, I was keen to return and try the food. Fortunately The Prof is usually happy to go along with my suggestions and it tied in perfectly with a concert at the Astor Theatre (just across the road) we had tickets for.

We ordered wine by the glass, with our convivial waitress Valentina offering us samples first. The wine list has varied options of old and new world white, rose and red wines by the glass, and they are generous pours.

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Circa’s dishes are perfect for sharing, so we chose a few from the standard menu, plus one of the daily blackboard specials, scallop and pea risotto.

Although the scallops were seared perfectly the risotto wasn’t as creamy as I would have liked, and the flavour could have been enhanced with stronger stock or seasoning. I know scallops are delicate little things, but I expected the risotto itself to be rich and flavourful. The presentation was beautiful but the dish lacked punch.

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Haloumi salad with beetroot, wafer thin slices of radish and pear, mesclun salad and walnuts was a palate pleaser. The perfectly grilled haloumi was a great foil for the clean taste of the pear and radish. We loved this dish.

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Manchego croquettes with spinach and creamy potato were a delight with their crispy pan-fried coating and aioli dressing, and this was our favourite dish of the evening.

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We were so busy eating, sipping wine and chatting that we completely forgot the time. With only minutes to spare before Sarah MachLachlan was due to start, we had to pay the bill, do a loo run, and sprint across the road to the theatre. Whew! In the proverbial nick of time ……..but shame about our unfinished plates of food.

This is a fabulous venue that ticks all the boxes but I feel that Circa needs to promote itself more. There’s no plan for a website yet, but the enterprising Valentina has created a Facebook page. People these days like to check out the menu before they visit a place, and really, this is the 21st Century. Social media is the key to spreading the word; word of mouth only goes so far. This place deserves to be humming.

There is free parking at the rear, the wait staff are friendly and attentive, the music is a backdrop to the experience and doesn’t overwhelm, and the food is good. I’m hoping next time I visit to sample more of the dishes on offer – the beetroot ravioli sounds amazing, and the desserts are just begging to be sampled. Circa also does breakfast, so I may just mosey along and check that out first.

Circa on Urbanspoon

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