Circa, The Prince

2 Acland St
St Kilda, VIC 3182
03 9536 1122

Sigh… my backlog of food posts is getting incredibly big. As I’m writing this, I’m actually having a twitter conversation with Billy, Penny and Ashley about possibly setting up a “Museum of Forgotten Foods” for pictures of food that we meant to blog about but just didn’t have the time to. That way, all our un-blogged food pics can have a home as well. :)
This meal at Circa happened two months ago when cousin trouble + geek hubby were visiting Melbourne. Because it’s western food, I’ve (yet again) forgotten much of the taste and flavours eaten. I think my imprinted memories for non-Asian food isn’t as intuitive and comprehensive as the food I grew up with. Not to mention these inventive dishes were complex and the ingredients unfamiliar. So what I did was eMail cousin trouble + geek hubby pictures of the food and asked for their memories of it. I think they’re more familiar with ang moh food. We’ll see what we can collectively come up with. I do apologise if it makes this post sound irreverent, but we really had a good time here.

After its refurbishment last year, our Prince appears to be all decked out in new clothes. Looking around me, the interior’s fit-out leans towards a cosy-rustic modernity, with a pleasing conservatory-like organic feel. There’s a glass sky-roof giving natural light during the day, I really like that. And love love those black mood lamps over the tables… I want one for my home!

I’m quite fascinated by the glass roof. The restaurant’s vibe on that week night felt like an after-work business crowd. But I have a feeling it’d be quite a pleasant place to have brunch here, with all that natural light pouring in… We can be all organic, contemporary and civilised at the same time.
Cousin trouble and hubby have just eMailed back their impressions about the food here. I’ll make this post a little different. Even though it’s a 2-month retrospective, with their input, I think I can make the entire meal sound immediate and conversational. It’s just another way of blogging: as if the three of us are talking about the food right there and then. :) And no. None of what I’ve written has been fabricated, it’s truly what we experienced and felt about the place.
Jamon broth, Hunter Valley snails, crisp pig’s ear $27
Fatbooo: What’s this? … Ooo!! It’s delicious!
Trouble:  Ooh yummy crunchy ears, and Jamon broth!
Fatbooo: Goodness, the pig’s ears are in the triangular dumplings. So weird, so cool!
Hubby:   Jamon broth?! It’s genius!
Fatbooo: I’ve never tasted soup like this before. So acutely punchy in flavour…
Hubby:   Don’t know about these snails though…
Fatbooo: Where are the snails?
Trouble:  It’s in the pastry, I guess..
Hubby:   But wow, Jamon broth! It is sooo going to be my favourite dish for a long time!
Yellow fin tuna tartare, crispy oysters, radish $24 (compliments from the kitchen)
Trouble:  Hey, we didn’t order this…
Fatbooo: It’s complimentary. I think it’s the “dSLR effect”. Food-blogger alert, haha!
Hubby:   The tartare is delicious, light, melts in your mouth.
Fatbooo: I guess they want us to taste the dishes they’re proud of.
Trouble:  Love this dish! This is really good. I love the texture of the tuna and light flavour
Fatbooo: Mmmm… I love sashimi. And though it’s different, I love this just as much, so refreshing!
Hubby:   Yeah, give me some more!
Venison carpaccio glazed in fig vincotto, wattle seed cream $24

Fatbooo: Reminds me of Movida’s award-winning Wagyu carpaccio
Trouble:  It’s a bit sweet and somehow mushy
Hubby:   I always agree with everything you say…
Trouble:  Mmmm
Fatbooo: Tastes quite rich, is there truffle in it?
Warm miso glazed eel, pickled kohlrabi, avocado and apple $24

Fatbooo: Mmm.. unagi.. loove unagi!
Trouble:  Naughty you, this isn’t Japanese food. ;)
Hubby:   I don’t like eel, but I like this.
Trouble:  The combination of flavours is good, it’s quite light.
Fatbooo: Look at how the paper-thin katsuobushi flakes are fluttering!
Our vegetables, tuber crisps, parmesan yoghurt $19
Trouble:  Compared to Singapore, the vegetables here are so fresh.
Hubby:   You can serve it and eat it so simply and get all of the flavours.
Fatbooo: Waaa… so pretty!
Trouble:  I also like the presentation.
Hubby:   I like vegetables that haven’t been messed with. And there’s soft quail eggs!
Trouble:  And there’s crispy bits in it too.
The next main dish came in a pot and you scoop the stuff and serve it yourself. The picture of the dish below was plated by cousin trouble. My plating was too pathetic to be blog-worthy. LOL!
Tamarind glazed pork and abalone hot pot, caramelised daikon, cabbage and apple salad (for two) $80
Fatbooo: Oh my, they gave us extra pork. That’s 3 servings, and I’m already so stuffed!
Hubby:   Is that cos you mentioned on twitter that you’re coming tonight?
Fatbooo: Ya… so pai seh… (Singlish: feel ashamed)
Hubby:   They’re very kind…
Trouble:  The meat is a bit sweet for my taste. I love this salad though.
Fatbooo: I’m too full to enjoy this. :(
Hubby:   I’m kinda full too so I’m not going to eat the pork, but I’ll eat all of the daikon and salad that you guys leave behind.
Fatbooo: Go for it! :)

Cabbage and apple salad accompanying the tamarind pork dish.
Potato and chive gnocchi, grilled zucchini, Persian fetta and pinenuts $34
Trouble:  My plating rocks!
Hubby:   This Melbourne gnocchi is really not what I expect. It’s polenta! I prefer the texture of boiled gnocchi in Italy, but the flavour is nice and I like the grilled vegetables and fetta here.
Fatbooo: After eating through the pork, I find it hard to appreciate this dish. The gnocchi-lenta feels so heavy!
Trouble:  I like it because it’s actually quite light, and if you just see it as grilled polenta it’s actually quite nice.
Fatbooo: Sigh why am I eating like a bird these days? How am I expected to get fat at this rate??
White Peach Sorbet

Trouble: Oh dear, they gave us one scoop each!
Hubby: That’s too kind of them!
Fatbooo: Ha ha maybe next time I need to visit eateries incognito, without telling twitter.
Trouble: No no, this is good. You get to try more things!
Fatbooo: Still not sure leh… I’m shy about freebies. :)
Hubby: (takes a mouthful) Mmmmm…
Trouble: White peach mmmm, sorbet what’s not to like?
Fatbooo: Not bad, but tastes like sng buay (preserved Chinese plum)…

Nougat praline parfait, strawberries, warm doughnuts $15

Fatbooo: Mmm… (speechless)

Trouble: Fatbooo is going nuts about the baby donuts!
Hubby: Yeah, look at him. ;)
Fatbooo: They’re still warm… shiok! (Singlish: fantastic)
Not sure how this form of blogging would go down with you all, ha ha! But we had a good meal here. I know I somewhat lost the plot halfway and felt really full early on, so I’m really glad I’ve got input from cousin trouble and geek hubby. Up till today, geek hubby is still gushing about the yummy Jamon broth. That must speak something about this place, yea? For me, I am quite likely to return again, but this time for brunch!
Circa has changed management and chefs in 2012, it’s now part of Melbourne Pub Group. Read here to see what we think of this update.
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