Circa the Prince in St Kilda

Circa – I had heard much about this restaurant, this being a favourite of Allan’s.  Asian fusion food doesn’t usually excite me much but their menu sounded pretty interesting and it being a friend’s 30th birthday, we really wanted to go somewhere special.  I think Circa didn’t disappoint in this regard – the venue is lovely (albeit parking a bit expensive) and the waiting staff are attentive and know their menu well (their menu can be found at their website – they accommodated our group knowing we were sharing by serving enough of the starters for one for each person so I’m not sure exactly the price we paid for each dish).

I do wish that such restaurants offered more lighting – I’d love to have a good look at what I’m eating (and so you all can have a good look too with better pictures).

The complimentary starter was an eggplant flatbread with dip.  Certainly interesting – not sure how eggplant can be made into flatbread being so dry but it worked being quite crispy.

Allan did most of the ordering and recommended most dishes from their global street food section including the scallops with spring onion puree.  These were lovely and had a clear centre.  Not chewy at all but I must say I enjoyed the ones at Steer Bar and Grill a bit more.

The dancing crispy shiso shrimp gets points for great presentation – being skewered onto a board (hence the dancing part).  Lovely crispy shrimps served with aioli.  I liked this dish quite a bit.

Australian soft shell crab with slaw and pomegranate and chilli caramel.  I love having the contrast between something deep fried and crunchy with salad.

Rice cracker crusted calamari with seaweed aioli – by now we were wondering whether we had ordered all the fried food on the menu or whether there just wasn’t that much in terms of choice but looking at their menu it seems like we might have just ordered a lot of deep fried dishes.  The calamari was fantastic though – crunchy and I loved the aroma the rice crackers added.

I have really wanted to try Wonderbao in the city – it being so popular on urbanspoon and having tried lovely buns in Bei Jing with rather fatty but oh so yummy pork belly.  We tried the sticky pork buns at Circa.    A fantastic combination being served with a Vietnamese salad which did well contrasting with the fatty pork belly.  Ours didn’t have the mango though – I guess it is out of season after all.

We ordered a few mains – the steak being generous portion wise.  I felt it was a little tough – the piece I had was close to the edge though so the middle parts might have been slightly nicer.

We also had their lamb shoulder – comments from the table were that it was very soft (which I actually really liked) but that because of this it didn’t taste like lamb!

Sides wise the chips were nice but a bit salty (no photo).  We also had their potatoes which were nothing to rave about but looked rather interesting.

No visit to a restaurant is complete without trying their desserts – luckily in a group as large as ours we were able to taste everything:

The chocolate mousse: equally in sharing in a group it’s difficult to taste dishes all that well – for example I had a spoon full of the crumbly “dust” on top of the dish missing a lot of the mousse – made this dish rather confusing.

A favourite especially amongst those who like pink and meringues: Yuzu queen of puddings.   A sponge cake with rhubarb and topped with meringue.  Visually a stunning dish and much more generous portion wise than the other desserts.

Lime cheesecake – again the same trouble with tasting in large groups.  Multiple layers made it rather difficult – one of my friends same it was so sour and yet I didn’t get a hint of it at all…

Next the almond nougat praline parfait with doughnuts.  The parfait was lovely and the praline added a nice crunch, topped with strawberry hibiscus sauce.

Now I must have forgotten in our mad rush to try all their desserts to take a photo of the Vietnamese coffee creme brulee.  It had a very strong coffee flavour which gave the creme brulee quite a kick.  I think I like creme brulees for their soft delicate vanilla flavour so it wasn’t my favourite.

We left feeling rather content and happy with our meal.  Overall the venue is lovely, the food fantastic and the service is excellent.  If I were to be picky, I’d agree with Allan’s comments that their starters taste nicer than their mains – perhaps they aren’t quite used to this comment because our waiter seemed rather perplexed by our choice of multiple starters and only 2 mains for a table of eight.

Circa the Prince

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Circa the Prince -37.862319, 144.974505

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