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The Circus


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What do you do when you go to a restaurant that should be really good, hits the mark in many areas, but has some misses that are so far off the mark you question how a chef could believe the dishes are good? Is it worth trying to have a chat with the chef, or do you risk a barrage of abuse?

On Friday we had dinner at “The Circus” a newly reopened restaurant in the centre of Bath. First impressions are very good, the room is nicely decorated in a modern style, the table settings are good, and the waiting staff very friendly and professional. The menu looks interesting, and the wine list was good. Lots of good French regional wine plus a few Spanish and Italians that are very well priced – average price about £16. Bread was presented in a large basket with a choice of good hunks of rustic white or brown, and butter is served very cold on a little plate. So far so good – expectations are high.

The menu has a lot of choice and some interesting items. We start with “Crab cakes made with Beesands crabmeat, spring onions, wasabi and fresh herbs, Served with pickled limes”. Sounds great, you expect spanking fresh crab from Devon set off with herbs and spiced up with a little wasabi. You get a Thai style fish cake, which is dense and rubbery served with an Indian style homemade lime pickle. Unfortunately not only didn’t the flavours mesh together – Japanese, Indian, and Thai – but none of the elements are executed very well. My partner had the “Duck liver parfait with toasted fruit bread” which was very well done, good bread, a well-flavoured and textured parfait and good homemade chutney.

My main course was “Crisp roast Somerset duckling with potatoes cooked in duck fat and a shallot, thyme, and red wine gravy”. I had put the starter down to good ambition that was slightly misdirected, however the main course confirmed that something isn’t quite right in the kitchen. Both the duck and potatoes looked like they had come out of the deep fat fryer. The duck was very crispy, but the meat was very well done, tough and quite tasteless – grey and chewy. The potatoes also lacked flavour, the crust was smooth, not really the crunchy texture you expect from a duck fat roasted potato. The sauce also lacked flavour; a sort of insipid onion and red wine mixture, rather than an integrated sauce.

My partner’s main was a fish special, a grey mullet with an interesting sauce, was well cooked. Simply grilled fish and a good-sized portion. The only negative was a lack of vegetables or potatoes; we hadn’t been told there was none served with the dish. Desert was a “Dark Chocolate and salted peanut caramel tart with cream” this was very, very sweet, almost like a turbo charged mars/snickers bar – it was excessive, not subtle, but good.

All dishes arrived very quickly, which often worries me in restaurants, overall it is OK, great in parts, but we are not certain we will head back, although there was much to like, and we would like it to succeed as Bath needs better restaurants. The place was busy, they were turning tables at least twice and they were turning away walk ins, when the summer hits the tourists will pack it out. Maybe they don't need to improve. Total bill was ₤42.20 for two with a glass of wine so well priced and would be fantastic value if all the dishes delivered.

Edited by PhilD (log)
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What do you do when you go to a restaurant that should be really good, hits the mark in many areas, but has some misses that are so far off the mark you question how a chef could believe the dishes are good? Is it worth trying to have a chat with the chef, or do you risk a barrage of abuse? 

Depends on the chef, I wouldn't try it with Gordon!

S

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I would guess from your description that the restaurant has specifically set out to use some bought in dishes and stuff that they believe can be zapped in a deep fryer to achieve a wide choice menu that can be on the plate in minutes and thus give them more scope to do several customers per table once things get busy.

If that is what they have set out to achieve then they are not going to change it for someone who would like a little more care taken with their food.

If the chef is not also the owner it may not even be his personal choice, so having a chat may just make him even more frustrated about what he is being asked to cook.

If I went back I would just pick stuff they couldn't reheat in a fryer or buy ready made. That might narrow things down a bit too much mind.

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On Friday we had dinner at “The Circus” a newly reopened restaurant in the centre of Bath.

Newly reopened/opened ,bound to have a few teething problems and may be a semi strong brigade in there at the moment.The duck was probley cooked @ 5pm and held in the hot cupboard till you ordered it,then chucked in the fryer just to crisp it up! And yes the potatoes were probley deep fryed :laugh: But at the end of the day a place turning tables twice a night with a weak brigade will cut corners.Give it another try in a couple of months ,and on that night have more than one glass of wine so if the food isn't up to scratch you'll have the courage to face the Chef !!! :biggrin:

Never trust a skinny Chef

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