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Circa 1913 Restaurant & Bar

With over 11,000 restaurants in the city, all vying for our patronage, it’s easy to miss the hidden gems – those quality dining outlets offering interesting and creative menus driven by passionate chefs and restaurateurs. Such is the case with Circa 1913, a cosy, artsy restaurant serving imaginative French/Japanese fare.
 

Located on the first floor of the Fringe Club, a Grade 1 heritage building in Central, just up from Lan Kwai Fong, the restaurant is decked out in the building’s original dark-hued floors, walls and windows, which are kept for conservation purposes. The original décor is complemented by more contemporary light wood furniture and retro-style glass globes and a chandelier, which make for a nice contrast. Several of the Fringe Club’s bright impressionistic paintings help lighten up the ambience.
 

Circa 1913 has space for 36 guests seated and nine at the bar; there are Happy Hour drinks on weekdays, including some refreshing cocktails that we can vouch for. A professional DJ plays progressively livelier music in the evenings. Given its tucked-away location, and relaxed setting for both drinking and dining, it is tempting to see it as a rather elegant speakeasy. Still the food is what we came for, and is worth the visit on its own merits.

 

The cooking style caught our attention. It’s a French/Japanese combo, for sure, but fusion doesn’t quite describe it. The style is probably best described as mostly French, with a generous cross-over of ingredients between French and Japanese. The end result is a treat: creative items lovingly and meticulously prepared – tasty, but not heavy, all appetising, and filling too.
 

We tasted what amounts to a “molecular tasting menu” – smaller size, interesting concoctions by the chef, arriving in a carefully planned sequence. For our meal, we sampled two versions of the tasting menus: a Short Menu (HK$880 per person), consisting of eight items, and a Long Menu (HK$1,280 per person), which has 12 items – a lot, to be sure.

 

The entrees served include La Calmer (squid, black garlic miso emulsion), Carpaccio de Saint Joseph (Hokkaido scallops, kaki), Le Tartare (Kumamoto A5 Waou beef tartare, 63°C quail egg), Tomate Momotaro (Momotaro tomato, black sesame pesto), and for the short menu, the very tasty Le Homarde oeuf cuit á la vapeur (lobster, steamed egg).
 

For the long menu, Foie Gras/Waou Beef Gyoza, Daikon Soup is served, followed by Risotto aux Oursins (Hokkaido uni, tomato, risotto). For the fish, it’s Kinmedai, Shiraki, Zucchini. The final meat dish is the excellent La Boeuf de Kumamoto, accompanied by a choice of Kumamoto Waou Sirloin or Tenderloin.
 

We were getting rather full by now, and thankfully the desserts came, including a Citrus Sorbet and Sous Vide Wakayama Persimmon with Konnyaku, followed by Petite Fours.

 

Whether you opt for the short or long menu, the dishes are uniformly excellent. We are truly impressed with the quality of ingredients used, not to mention the delightful mixing of interesting Japanese and French ingredients, creatively presented.
 

If you are in the mood for an eye-opening meal in an intimate setting, step back in time to Circa 1913 – it’s a rewarding treat for all the senses.

 

 

Circa 1913 Restaurant & Bar

1/F, South Block, Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central
3643 0288

 

 

(Edited on 13 Mar 2018)

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