It’s an exciting time in restaurant land when vegetables hold just as much weight in the eating arena as the meats. French chef heavyweights Michel Bras and Alain Passard have been doing it for years but it’s taken a long time for Aussie chefs to take a step away from the meat-then-sweet format. So we’re cheering that Circa the Prince has its own kitchen garden. Not only can you order a vegetable plate of heirloom carrots, turnips, radish and tuber crisps (sweet potato, parsnip) with parmesan cream and salts, but a pre-dinner snack of crudités and house-made peanut butter is, as a dining companion put it, ‘like awesome recess’.
Mix it up with the likes of the raviolo filled with big pieces of sweet, tender rabbit meat and napped in a savoury milk sauce. The menu changes depending on availability of ingredients so on one hand, you might have the yellowfin tuna tartare with a deep-fried oyster in front of you, or there might be jamon broth, Hunter Valley snails and crisp pig’s ears (we’ll be going back for that one). If there’s a chill in the air, order the mutton for two, braised slow and low for 48 hours and served with skordalia, roast capsicum and olives.
Despite the wealth of eats and the prices that accompany them, service is a little shaky and not as organised as it might be (sommelier and wine not making it to the table till halfway through the entrees, no bread on the bread plates). Still, it’s a rare day you won’t eat like royalty at Circa the Prince.