Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Circa, The Prince -> St Kilda Pier Kiosk + Brighton

Although I feel like I am starting this post with some sort of third party omniscient and omnipresent narrative that resembles the voice-over in How I Met Your Mother, it would be appropriate to reflect now to the humble readers, that back in the day before the GFC, when my liver could still take a serious beating and come back wanting more wine the next day and when Andrew McConnell had something to do with Circa, the Prince located on Acland Street, St Kilda, it was my favourite restaurant in Australia. I looked forward to a monthly trip to Melbourne from Sydney and Circa was always the first booking that I made. Before both Circa devolved and I matured, I would also stay the weekend at The Prince Hotel above the restaurant as it made it very convenient to enjoy the food, service and fine wine and ultimately stumble up the stairs to level four where I would sleep like a corpse in a room the size of a coffin. Oh, the good old days.

After Andrew McConnell ceased having a formal relationship with the restaurant and became from what I recall as a consultant (I too am a consultant but nobody really knows or understands what I do) he of course took interest Restaurant 312 (which was pleasant but now closed) and then Cutler & Co and Cumulus. After Andrew left, I noticed the standards in my then favourite restaurant degrade to the point that it drove me into the arms of Shannon Bennett and I did not return to Circa for some time. When I did though, I was surprised to see that the place was renovated, they abandoned the degustation menu along with the formal dining room and made everything a more "shared" tasting experience, like you would find at Cumulus.

There is something about this metamorphosis that has never seemed right to me. Perhaps because I have had so many great degustation experiences that I was bitter to have to resort to the informal "sharing" experience. The food and service is still good, but it is nothing that remains on my radar as a "best of" experience in Melbourne. Much like when I reflect on "The Pier" being a great place to spend Saturday afternoons with friends, drinks, soft shell crab tacos and sport, for now Circa remains a place that I want to meet up with friends in the southern suburbs on a Sunday for a relaxing lunch in their courtyard. If I wanted something more formal and serious in the area I would definitely attend The Stokehouse or Donovan's.

Circa, St Kilda

Link to review
2 Acland Street  St Kilda VIC 3182
(03) 9536 1122
My Rating: 15/20
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 3.5/5
Quality: 4/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Comment: Great bar and wine list

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
web: www.epicureanofsouthbank.com

As of this writing, 82% of the punters on Urbanspoon like Circa.

Circa, the Prince on Urbanspoon

Some other fluff..

A short walk from Circa and you will find the St Kilda pier. At the end of the pier is the "historic" St Kilda Pier Kiosk. In 2003, the kiosk burned down and unlike Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, it wasn't from arson. It has since rebuilt and is worth frequently simply for some light refreshments. I use it as the halfway point when I exercise. Given the amount of tourist foot traffic and screaming children, I do not think I would ever eat here, but that is a personal preference. I don't need to pay for a view to be satisfied which is one reason why I haven't rushed back into the arms of Shannon Bennett as of late. The coffee though is decent.

St Kilda Pier Kiosk 1
St Kilda Pier Kiosk. That is a security camera in the upper left hand corner. Taken with a Samsung Galaxy S2

St Kilda Pier Kiosk 2
View of the Melbourne CBD from the St Kilda Pier
On the exercise theme, you could walk from the St Kilda Pier Kiosk to Brighton Beach where you can see the historic and picturesque sheds. Given I do not take photos of food, I thought I would provide some decent photos of the beach as it is worth a visit.

Brighton Beach Sheds 1
Brighton Beach, photo taken with a Samsung Galaxy S2
Brighton Beach Sheds 2
Brighton Beach, photo taken with a Samsung Galaxy S2

Brighton Beach Sheds 3
Brighton Beach, photo taken with a Samsung Galaxy S2 

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