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Circa Espresso – Parramatta NSW Restaurant Review

We counted three visits to Circa Espresso in the 2018-19 period, with further visits in 2021 and more to come.

I’m not usually one to go for vegetarian dishes, but Circa’s Ottoman Eggs ($22) are in a league of their own. The eggs themselves are perfectly poached, served on a mattress of fried, crumbed eggplant, itself lying on a cloud of garlic labneh. The interplay of textures – the runny egg yolk, the crispy eggplant, the creamy labneh, and the housemade bread – is superb, as is the combination of tangy, spicy, and umami flavours. A really good dish that is a must-try.

The humpty doo saltwater barramundi en papillote ($26) was the most expensive thing on the menu, and also quite bad. The barramundi was very overcooked, with the skin soft and wilted rather than crispy. The salad of parsley and cucumber was hard and difficult to eat, and as such wasn’t really able to be eaten in conjunction with the fish. The flavours were overall mild and bland, and after the huge success of the Ottoman eggs these parcel baked fish bits were quite disappointing.

The wild ferment whole wheat pancake ($22) was a beautiful sweet dish. The thick but light wheat pancake was glazed in maple syrup, producing a hard, crispy skin and two separate textures per bite. The fresh, tangy peach provided a good foil to the sweet maple syrup glaze and the white chocolate creme fraiche, and the crunchy cocoa nibs and pistachios added a third texture to the meal. I don’t normally go for sweet dishes, but I could absolutely see myself ordering this again.

This lamb cutlet focaccia sandwich ($15) from the specials menu of Monday the 15th of March 2021 was really good. The meat was delicious, the bread was delicious, and the kaleslaw was fresh and crunchy.

An extra normal iced chocolate ($7). I could not stop my partner from ordering what was essentially chocolate milk with ice cubes.

Sujuk ($7) was served with a small amount of bread. Again quite expensive.

SPRING 2021

The dressed avocado ($18) is an interesting name for a dish where avocado is equal firsts in precedence with a number of other ingredients. The avocado headliner was in fact not more special than any other cut in half and pitted avocado, while its colleagues the cherry tomatoes were delightfully and unexpectedly bright and full of flavour. The avocado-cup of oil and aged balsamic vinegar and bed of soft white bean hummus added a depth of umami to balance the otherwise extreme freshness of this meal. A perfect low carb option, it’s just a shame that I had to ruin it with a deep fried eggplant.

The side of crumbed eggplant ($6?) was ordered as I wanted only the best part of the Ottoman Eggs while not committing to the full deal. Whilst the eggplant was as good as I remembered, it didn’t quite go with the freshness of the avocado dish, and having it alone really just highlighted how well the Ottoman Eggs works as a cohesive dish.

SUMMER 2022

Another year at the largest healthcare campus in the Southern Hemisphere, another year of post-nights breakfast at local legend Circa. Though I’ve never been a mad shakshuka fan, I decided to step out of my comfort zone for these baked eggs with beef sujuk ($26), spending Valentine’s day breakfast with my colleagues rather than my partner. Though I easily could’ve ordered the old, trustworthy Ottoman eggs, I was inspired by my junior colleague TJB to try something new. These baked eggs turned out to be extraordinary, with a richness of flavour not easily matched elsewhere. The roma tomatoes, harissa gravy, and chilli flakes really brought out a rare depth of flavour, and paired with the runny eggs and feta made for the perfect topping and dip for Circa’s top tier focaccia.

A further visit in a further month gave me the opportunity to try this zaatar chicken salad ($26), an extremely healthful bowl which was a mixture of quinoa, seed mix, sumac, broccolini, pickled radish, cabbage, and (cold temperature) smoked chicken over a bed of baba ganoush. Though the flavour wasn’t amazing compared to all of the other delicious foods featured above, it was obviously very healthy and there is a value to that too.

$5.50 for a cold brew coffee with a giant ice cube is too much.

WINTER 2022

Another season, another menu, and more foods to review. The cuttlefish & chorizo salad ($28) was the first thing I tried on Circa’s Winter 2022 menu, and if I’m being honest it was quite a disappointment. Many of the components of this warm salad were fantastic – the roasted greens, the sourdough crumb (great texturally), the chickpea and roasted garlic hummus, but the combination of these, together with the extremely salty cuttlefish and chorizo made a bowl that I could not finish. Though I am a big Circa Stan and like most of the things they put out, the saltiness of this particular salad just didn’t do it for me.

I didn’t drink this shrub ($7 or something) but I do love the crockery. My colleague CSPH enjoyed it. It did come with a shrub.

SPRING 2022

I spent 3 months away from Western Sydney working on the South Coast, but came back in time to enjoy this crispy confit duck ($27) on their Spring 2022 menu. I shamelessly tucked into this very lunchy breakfast whilst four of my five other colleagues had their reliably good Ottoman eggs. Their all-day menu is, after all, part of why we keep coming back time and time again. I loved the colour and the crispiness of the duck, with its skin and fat and tender meat. The vegetables and lentils were mild but still delicious, with quite a tangy taste from the red current jus. I can recommend this dish, and it was truly much better than the similar confit poultry at Melbourne’s Hardware Société.

VERDICT
Eggs good. Many other things quite good. Some other things not good, quite expensive. My favourite café in Parramatta.

Circa Espresso
21 Wentworth St, Parramatta NSW 2150

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