“Pho Phu Quoc remains a strong draw card for those enamoured with the wonders of authentic (and inexpensive) Vietnamese cuisine,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON
IF you’re reading this review, do so to the end to see how I come full circle with Circula at Kingston Foreshore.
We love the location. The massive outdoor area. The comfy interior. The intriguing menu. But our weekend lunch visit wasn’t full of hugs and kisses.
It all began with the Oysters Rockefeller (three for $12). The staff person – cheery and excited with the new restaurant – simply didn’t know what Oysters Rockefeller were, although she kindly offered to ask the kitchen. Awkward.
I love a hearty steak frites and at Circula you’re dished up 200 grams of Wagyu beef skit, with kipfler potatoes and béarnaise sauce ($22), on a large wooden board. The beef was tasty and tender but cold. So cold the poor béarnaise sauce sat in a lump on top of the meat trying its best to melt. Sadly, it remained as firm as a scoop of ice cream. I returned the dish. The substitute arrived. The meat was lukewarm. No melting of the béarnaise (we weren’t charged for this dish in the end).
Circula doesn’t have side salads at lunch (how hard is it to offer a simple leaf salad to cut through carbs?). Instead, they offer four main salads ($17 to $19) and we shared the classic Caesar served with decadent duck-fat croutons. The problem this time was the poached egg, so overcooked it was hard. When we politely enquired as to the state of said egg, the staff member announced they thought it was to be this way. This dish was returned with the substitute better.
The winning dish of the day was the kfc chicken burger, which would make Colonel Sanders grin from ear-to-ear. The buttermilk crispy chicken, kimchi, vermeil noodles, miso aioli and fresh coriander ($18) was yum.
We didn’t order dessert, having witnessed the table next to us being told there is no such thing at lunch. Only Byron Bay cookies. Really?
Before I go, let me put my position as a reviewer on the table. Many in hospitality (for obvious reasons) passionately oppose a reviewer coming in to a new establishment, feeling they deserve plenty of time to test systems and food in a live environment. I get that, but my view is that when a restaurant swings its doors open for business and charges full rates for the privilege of dining customers have the right to expect good food and service. Do other service industries feel they have the right to charge full rates for less than a full experience? I think not.
But enough moaning. Circula is on to something. Although execution was suss, the flavours were exciting and I’ll give the restaurant a second go (if I’m allowed in).
Circula, 17/19 Eastlake Parade, Kingston Foreshore, call 6260 8075. Lunch and dinner seven days, 11am to 9.30pm. Breakfast, Friday to Sunday, 9am.