Circa, Mount Lawley
Saturday night on Beaufort Street: tantrums trying to find parking. Drunken masses of people. Table unavailability in every restaurant. Rampant cars and buses threatening to run you over at every attempt to cross the road. This is all an average description of my experiences on my favourite foodie strip North-side, on the busiest night of the weekend. Luckily, in the quiet week that is the first week of January, people are still recovering from New Year antics and/ or still are on holidays over broad perhaps sipping cocktails in the Caribbean. As a result, my friend and I find a parking bay relatively easy, the leering drunks are homebound, it’s pretty easy to find a table in our second target restaurant (Ace Pizza, as our number one place of choice is unfortunately packed to the brim) and there is limited traffic zipping down the street. Winning!
Circa has taken the narrow joint that was once Diva, a dark classy restaurant perfect for conversation over choice coffee, drinks and dessert. Candles decorate the tables and there is a low murmur of people chatting away. My friend and I are seated at a tiny corner booth at the top of the stairs, a small space which is bordered off from the rest of the tables. It’s a bit crammed, but my friend and I make do. The dining menus are popped on our tables, along with tap water and cutlery. I quickly request for the dessert menu, which are bought to us promptly. I am already enamored by the selection of desserts at Circa. There are no run-of-the-mill items on this dessert menu, each dish unique to its own. It doesn’t take us long to settle for two dishes, along with two other drinks to drown the impending sugar overload.
I had a RAW watermelon juice ($6) which comes in a decent sized glass. It’s evidently very fresh, with watermelon seeds still bobbing around at the bottom. I like the absence of ice cubes in my drink, particularly as I feel that having half a cup of solid tap water in my glass often dilutes the drink and takes away value for money. Despite lack of ice, the drink was chilled and fortifying especially considering it was a warm night. I was pretty chuffed with it.
My friend’s cappuccino ($3.50) was reported to be satisfactory as well. He liked the blue china cup it came in and stated that it was steamed to an adequate temperature. The milk was velvety with a smooth, even consistency across the length of the coffee. The shot itself was a bit on the weak side for my friend, who as a fellow barista, prefers his brew strong and rich. Despite this, he thought it was priced well considering it is Perth.
The first of our desserts was the yoghurt pannacotta with chocolate ice cream filled profiteroles and warm chocolate sauce ($14). There was a substantial amount of pannacotta, topping up a tall glass. A slight sourness emanated from the yoghurt pannacotta, potentially of the natural Greek variety. Both my friend and I weren’t particularly raving about the consistency of the pannacotta – I am used to my baked creams being silky and light, whilst this yoghurt one was more gelatinous, solid and granular compared to ones I’ve had in the past. The profiterole on the top was soft, but the choux pastry was a little too dry. However I loved the dark, bitter chocolate mousse filling inside the profiterole which contrasted nicely with the rich chocolate ice-cream sidled up next to it.
The winner was the Venetian fried custard, blood orange ripple ice cream and pistachio ($14). I was instantly intrigued by it. Two flat portions of custard had been encrusted in light breadcrumbs and flashed fried to golden. The custard itself was velvety and melt in the mouth, absolutely beautiful. There was a caramel-like liquid bubbling on the edges, with tones of lime and sticky lemon. Textural crunches came from the scattered pistachio and a scoop of vanilla ice cream sat on top. I thoroughly enjoyed the home made ice cream – it had the wonderfully icy and sleek consistency of a semifroddo and consequently did not turn into a puddle of milk and cream within passing seconds. The blood orange ripple was a jam-like concoction, stowed away at the bottom of the icecream. Visually impressive and delicious. Highly recommended!
Whilst we were pretty happy with our drinks and our gold star desserts, neither of us were clamouring over the service. Sure, the food came out quickly and our basic needs were attended to but it was hard to place a smile on anyone that night at Circa. The place had significantly died down by the time my friend and I had finished our food, but there were no passing comments of, “how was your food?” or, “just going to clear up your plates now.” We were met instead with a moody silence for the whole night. It was rather unsettling.
Sad to say, service is seriously slipping in Mount Lawley. To illustrate my point, I had better service from the friendly man at my local fro yo place that afternoon than I have had recently at restaurants and cafes on Beaufort Street in the past month. Both my friend and I have both worked extensively in customer service over the past few years and as a result have a good grasp on the pressures of working in a café and restaurant environment. We understand that a business is run as a business, but a smile and a small personal comment goes a long way in the industry. As a city that wants to define itself as having professional, personal and friendly service, we sadly have a long way to go. A positive and memorable dining moment is one that encompasses good food and exemplary service, which was unfortunately lacking tonight.
Despite this, I did enjoy the Venetian Custard at Circa and would be lured back to try out the rest of its fascinating menu. I did spot some other dishes which looked like they would work well together, like beetroot ravioli with butter, sage and hazelnuts or a twice cooked pork belly with an orange reduction and cauliflower puree. It’s one for those who invest in adventureous eating! I also enjoyed the ambience at Circa which was moody and romantic, however we were a bit cramped in our little corner section – if we had garnered any more dishes we would have run into some serious trouble space -ise. Service was a bit wayward, which will hopefully be an improvement to look out for next time.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Address: 676 Beaufort St, Mount Lawley 6050
- Open for breakfast on weekends, as well as lunch and dinner Monday to Sunday (and till late on Friday and Saturday night).
- Suppliers of T2 teas!
- Reservations available (via telephone: 9371 9971)