Location: 2 Acland St, St Kilda
Booking Required: Yes
Ranked by The Age's Good Food Guide as one of Melbourne's top restaurants (with two hats) last year and awarded 3 stars from the Gourmet Food Traveller in 2006, Circa has long been on my wishlist of restaurants to get loose at. With a friend coming back from the Middle East for a week, I thought it'd be a good place to catch up and enjoy a quality breakfast with some good bubbles.
The decor is pretty smart, very modern, with no expense spared on interior decorations all complimented by good use of natural lighting and some sneaky views over Port Phillip Bay. The service was casual yet still perfect and I found by the end of the meal that the whole experience had been seamless.
Although I didn't flick through the entire winelist (it was pretty hefty, thanks to the excellent Prince Wine Store located beneath the restaurant) the list of champagnes was impressive. A good variety of Australian sparklings along with a handy list of prestige French. The markups on standard NVs are not for the faint of heart, up to 350% in some cases, however after some deliberation on how much we actually wanted to spend we went with a 1989 Louis Roederer Rosè.
Now before I go into the food, I can't even begin to describe the champagne, simply because I've never tried anything like it. The only older champagne I've tried was an 1985 Laurent Perrier, which wasn't in the same league as this. This was breathtaking. It was perfectly rounded with fruit and finished with a firm nutty finish. We tasted everything from peaches and apricots to brioche and macadamia, bold but still elegant and complex. It had aged well and I'd probably say it was in its prime.
This pic doesn't quite do the colour justice. It was more a bronze-pink.
To eat, I ordered the Tom Cooper smoked salmon with a steamed egg, parsley and capers. The flavours in this were divine. It seemed to slot in nicely with the champagne as well. Along with the above there was a honey-mustard seed type garnish which provided a delicious twist to brighten up the salmon and the egg. It was so good I got half way trough it and ordered another one. One of my friends ordered one for himself after he had tried mine.
My two friends both started with the scrambled eggs with smokey bacon and truss tomato. The bacon was probably the best bacon I've ever tasted. It was crisp and yet it still maintained a juicy rich flavour. The scrambled egg was fluffy and seasoned nicely. My other friend was so satisfied with it that ordered another round.
We finished off with coffees and relaxed. Although the place was close to empty, we were not hurried with the bill and the waitress was quite content to let us chill out.
I'd never hesitate to come back to this place, as long as I could afford to do it properly. This morning was totally excessive, it was still good fun and worth it every once in a while.