Review: Circa, Dupont Circle
Consistency is the lifeblood of the restaurant business. Serving someone a great meal generally ensures they will come back. Serving that same customer a bad meal on the second trip, and you have a problem as there is a 50 percent chance you lost their third trip. Consistency is what creates regulars, and I am (now) a regular at Circa (or at least plan to be).
Situated on prime real estate, the busy corner of Q St NW and Connecticut Ave NW smack in the heart of Dupont Circle, Circa is accessible, provides a spacious yet cozy interior, a great outdoor patio for the warmer nights, and most importantly, delivers consistent food and service.
Circa is great for a date, a large group of friends, or just grabbing a bite and a drink at the bar. Their large selection of wines, beers, and cocktails will quench any thirst, and their food is delicious. A few favorites…
I like to try and incorporate vegetables, or a salad, when at all possible, and I almost always will try the Caesar salad on any menu. Why? Because while a Caesar salad seems simple and easy to construct, it is equally as easy to completely and totally screw up. Thankfully Circa did the former. The lettuce, romaine of course, was chopped, crisp, and refreshing. The croutons were actually a toasted crostini that was crumbled on top (a nice creative touch), and shaved Parmesan of course. The thing that makes or breaks the Caesar is the dressing – it should be just salty enough with just the right amount of anchovies (or flavor from pureed anchovies, etc), and have a hint of lemon/citrus while being on the creamy side. Circa had it down – not sure if they make it in house or not – and I don’t care. It was good.
From there, the calamari frito misto was ordered. Fritto misto literally means “mixed fried” in Italian and usually consists of fried vegetables and seafood. Their version came with fried zucchini, squash, garbanzo beans, lemon slices, and a lemon-thyme aioli and marinara sauce for dipping. The calamari was tender, fried perfectly, as were the vegetables, and the sauces were good. It was actually nice to have the two different sauces. I however, assume they did not mean to deep fry one of the lemon slices, and I certainly did not mean to eat it. Deep fried lemon?!? I hope this was a mistake and not a trend. Don’t try this one at home folks. Regardless, it was still good for a laugh at least.
A good thing about Circa is that their small plates are not all that small, and with a few glasses of wine while catching up with friends, if you’re not starving a small plate might just suffice.
The jumbo lump crab cake small plate is fairly ample. Made from jumbo lump crab meat and not that much bread or filler, this crab cake was fresh and moist served over a bed of succotash with an Old Bay beurre blanc.
The lobster ravioli small plate comes with three large ravioli stuffed with lobster and is topped with goat cheese, fresh herbs, toasted almonds, and a tarragon pesto cream sauce.
Another great small plate is the shotgun shrimp. Six medium size fried and glazed with a spicy but sweet chili sauce are served with crisp slaw and haricots verts.
For main plates, the slow roasted short ribs served with mashed potatoes and glazed carrots over a red wine au jus is comforting and fork tender.
Make sure to ask about their dinner specials. When they have the bone-in pork chop, get it. In fact, call everyday until they offer it, it’s that good. A large, perfectly grilled bone-in pork chop served with braised greens and a not-too-sweet potato mash over a au jus of angelic proportions. I have dreams about this pork chop. There might have to be a pork-chop-off between this and the one offered at District Commons that I love.
In the end, consistency wins every time and the folks at Circa in Dupont Circle manage to continuously shine through the ebb-and-flow that generally makes up the Dupont Circle food scene.
Where: Circa at Dupont, 1601 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009. Website.