Circa, The Prince

L has been raving about the best ever lamb he has had, which apparently was at The Prince. I didn’t believe it. To me The Prince in St Kilda brings back images of Sunday sessions after a trip to the beach, not perfect lamb dishes in a fine dining environment.  Little did I know of the beautiful restaurant that is tucked away on Acland St, just behind The Prince.

Circa, The Prince is elegant and understated, the space is divided into a bar section and the restaurant room. The restaurant is relatively dark but every table has a perfectly located spotlight directed at it.

You have the option between ordering a la carte or choosing either a six or nine course degustation. We decided on the six course degustation as it had pretty much all the dishes on it we wanted to try anyway.

The little ciabattas with onion dust and chevre were a great start to the night, followed by an amuse gueule; the thinnest slices of crispy baked brioche filled with plum puree and duck parfait. Biting through this thin, crispy layer and then getting the strong flavours of the duck parfait off-set by the sweet plum puree was incredible.

The first course of the degustation menu was cured duck with jerusalem artichokes and black walnut. I’m a big fan of jerusalem artichokes and have only discovered them about a year ago, I still find the combination mind blowing that something looks like ginger, has the consistency of potato but tastes like artichoke. The duck was great and we were off to an amazing start. 

The Kinkawooka mussels with bitter lemon and sea lettuce was fairly salty, like a dish celebrating the sea. The mussels were so tender they melted in your mouth!

The snapper with celeriac, bay and calendula came out on a white plate. The very friendly waitress then poured just the right amount of green broth (sorrel?) over it. After I had tasted it and eaten my fish I had to remind myself that this was a beautiful restaurant where unfortunately you can’t lick the plate. I wish plate-licking was more socially acceptable, this broth was to die for!
As the previous dishes, the Pork with Wild Apple, Kohlrabi and Lovage was beautifully plated. I am a big, big fan of kohlrabi, that strange looking but very tasty bulb. The pork was cooked to perfection, juicy and tender with a beautiful crackling.
The next dish wasn’t actually part of the degustation menu but the chef was so nice to let us swap this lamb in for the wagyu. The lamb that L had been dreaming about. The slightly pink Flinders Island lamb sat on a bed of cauliflower puree and was accompanied by pine mushrooms. It looked beautiful. The cauliflower puree was amazingly smooth and was the perfect contrast to the earthy mushrooms and melt-in-your-mouth lamb.
The last course of the degustation menu was Chocolate Mousse with Beetroot and Espresso. What a great combination. Shards of dehydrated beetroot were placed around a rich, yet not too rich, mousse. Underneath the mousse was the espresso gel, only a little amount but with an intense espresso flavour. And on top of the mousse was a slice of fresh beetroot. The combination was amazing!
After this last dish of the degustation menu, L and I tried to find the dish we liked the best. It was seriously impossible. Everything was presented beautifully and tasted impeccable. I loved the jerusalem artichoke with the cured duck, but the snapper with the broth made me want to lick the plate. The pork belly was just so tender I would definitely order it again. And the lamb, well it’s the lamb L has been telling me about for months and it was better than I had imagined. However, the chocolate mousse with beetroot was probably the most inventive dish of all. I just couldn’t choose a favourite.
With our coffees the waitress brought out a plate with the cutest little marshmallows and fudges. The marshmallows had this really subtle raspberry flavour, that lingered in your mouth after. They tasted like little mouthfuls of summer.
I have fallen in love with Circa, The Prince and I now completely understand why L has been raving about it. The service was so friendly and personal, despite the restaurant being fairly busy. Every now and then I say to L “Gosh, that dinner at Circa was amazing, thank you again!” (he had surprised me with a surprise dinner date!). It’s the kind of dinner you remember for a long time.
Circa, The Prince

2 Acland St

St Kilda VIC 3182
www.circa.com.au
(03) 9536 1122

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