Sitting snugly on Terenure Road, Circa is one very aesthetically pleasing restaurant. Stepping through the glass door the first thing we notice is the insanely inviting smell of real cooking. One could be forgiven for thinking that this cool new kid on the block may be more about minuscule portions and a hard to fathom menu, but this assumption could not be further from the reality that awaits you.
Greeted warmly by the effervescent Ross, we are seated with a birds eye view of the beautifully designed open kitchen where Chef Gareth Naughton is calmly leading the charge. Circa is the much yearned for, wanted and deeply loved child that three highly skilled, talented and amiable young men share custody of. The aforementioned Head Chef Gareth Naughton, Ross Duffy and Emmet Murphy have all served their time within the Dublin hospitality industry and have created a restaurant that we feel is something of a food lovers scantuary. These clever minds and well established palates behind Circa have created a menu with both thought and intelligence and without an ounce of pretentiousness. There is a vast difference between a chef that knows what works and one that just wants to create a stir!
In the generous style of Chef Naughton we are treated to a scintillating snack of fresh crab, apple and heirloom tomatoes. If summer was a dish, it just might be this one!
Small plates of Duck Prosciutto, Cured Fois Gras, Cherry & Hibiscus €13.00 and Tuna Tartare, Seaweed Vinegar, Smoked Avocado, Radish €14.00 are warmly welcomed to our table. Wafer thin slivers of deliciously light Duck Prosciutto, rich, buttery cured Fois Gras. Do not underestimate the power of the humble cherry in this line up. A marriage made in heaven, or in Circa even! Taking a recommendation from Ross on a glass of Roc De Levraut, this is the kind of food and wine we crave, so rich and comforting and definitely best served as a small plate.
Tuna Tartare, although a favourite of ours can so often not deliver in the flavour stakes. No fear of that here as micro nuggests of perfectly fresh and well seasoned Tuna are nestled beneath a canopy of smoked avocado and ample Radish shavings. Seaweed Vinegar giving that welcome kick of salt and acidity.
Snacks and starters saw us very excited for the arrival of the large plates that we had debated over at time of ordering. First plate down was the incredibly crisp of crumb, mammoth sized Veal Schnitzel, Fermented Garlic Scrape Gribiche, Lyonnaise Potato €24.00.
A dish so impressive the lady at the table beside us let out an audible groan, announcing how she wished she had room for another main. Understanding her food obsession we proffered her a little chunk of this perfectly cooked delight which was subsequently followed by a happy little food chat. Chatting to your neighbouring table is not mandatory in Circa but what a great crowd this neighbourhood restaurant appears to draw. On the other side of the room it was clear there were a couple of date night happenings taking place. We ponder what kind of soul would not enjoy the fine fare on offer here!
Our second large plate, Hake, Broccoli, Seaweed & Brown Shrimp €27.00 landed in all its gorgeous glory. Translucent flesh that flaked but had maintained that much loved succulence below its crispy skin. We don’t see Brown Shrimp enough, these flavourful little morsels elevating the textures on the plate even further. Al dente tender stem , those heavenly Lyonnaise Potatoes, not forgetting those magic green beans with their chorizo counterparts, an outstanding plate of food.
Despite noting from our fellow diners that portions are on the larger side here in Circa, we lack willpower and so a side of Green Beans with Chorizo and Sherry Vinegar €5.00 was added to our order. Lightly cooked green beans that had been afforded a loving few minutes cooking time and then luxuriously dressed with crumbled Chorizo and a scintillating Sherry Vinegar. We would order a bag of these as readily as we would order a bag of chips if it were possible. This side was absolutely not needed but we did not have one regret about ordering it. Well, actually, maybe a slight regret, it doesn’t happen often but we had left not even the slightest bit of room for dessert. We still have the gorgeous little menu and have ear marked the desserts we want which is basically all of them however it still haunts me that we left without trying the Chocolate Creamaux, Peanut Praline, Salted Banana Ice Cream. Next time for sure.
Its worth noting my dining companion would have happily ordered all three sides to make up her entire meal and I have my suspicions that a return visit will see this happen and in all honesty I can’t blame her. Creamed Leeks with Hazelnuts, Confit Pink Fir Potatoes, Truffle Mayonnaise, Parmesan, and Green Beans with Chorizo and Sherry Vinegar, all three make for a veritable feast.
Style is in abundance in Circa from the beautifully designed dining space to the green and gold tones used throughout but it is the substance of this wonderful restaurant that has ensured we will return. We highly recommend a visit.
90 Terenure Road North,
Phone: 01 – 5342644
WRITTEN BY KEITH MAHON & OLIVIA BYRNE