Last week, I flew to the island city of Cebu to join the friendly folks of the US Potato Board in their event called the USPB Potato Safari. They’re marketing US potatoes in the Philippine market (for good reason!) and the idea is to have chefs in the city’s top restaurants experiment with various potato-based dishes for everyone to enjoy.
Making an impression was Circa 1900 which is a former colonial house restored into a sprawling resto serving Asian fusion dishes . It was refreshing to see all the expanse and the trees. It reminded me of my childhood in the province with the grandparents.
The tasteful interiors showcase Filipino wooden furniture.
There’s also a corner where a piano could be found. Unfortunately, the piano man wasn’t playing when we visited as it was lunchtime.
Circa 1900 serves great food whipped up by owner-chef Steve Shrimski, an Australian. He was a former executive chef in the leading hotel chains around Asia but decided to settle in Cebu for good with his Filipina wife Eya in 2009. It is perhaps the city’s good fortune that Chef Steve is able to showcase the creativity and deliciousness of his dishes in the family restos, which also includes Canvas Bistro Bar Gallery at the Ayala Terraces.
Anyhow, props up to Circa for pulling out all the stops to delight our palate that afternoon, with wine pairing to boot 🙂
First to come out of the kitchen was a seafood chowder flavored with ginger and kaffir lime, then topped with a crispy McCain Redstone Canyon spiral potato. The chowder was very tasty and was great enough to set the tone for the rest of the meal….a long one, by the way!
Up next came a squarish platter containing three kinds of appetizers. Wow, we could really see the chef’s efforts in whipping up these gourmet creations but my favorite is the one in the middle: the blue cheese with bacon and sour cream dip topped with FripaKrinkle cut chips. For some reason, I really love blue cheese!
What is a seven-course meal without a salad? We had the Asian-style Caesar with yellow miso aioli, then garnished with shaved Parmesan, Mandarin sausage, bonito flakes, quail eggs and of course, US frozen potato chips.
Afterwards, the first of two mains arrived: this grilled prawn drizzled with arugula pesto, garlic and lemon sauce. Behind this is barramundi with a crispy topping of crushed potato patties (Ore-Ida brand). I loved how the sauces and the crunchy potato topping enhanced the flavor of the seafood. It’s something to try in the kitchen next time 😉
To take a break from the food coma, we were served this cucumber shot as a palate cleanser. By then, our jaded toungues were exclaiming their ooh’s and aah’s because of such a refreshing drink. This is exactly what we needed!
The second main course was this slow-roasted pork belly with apple-fennel compote and adorned with Harvest Splendor sweet potato sticks. The pork was appropriately tender. Leave it to the chef to do everything right 🙂
… and this resto was really spoiling us. Imagine serving us two kinds of desserts. I have to say it’s really a brilliant idea to caramelize potato patties…it was like bananacue, even better! The two toppings – malunggay ice cream and the maja blanca cheesecake blew me away. Oh wait, these were really divine!
Did I say we were spoiled? These were the three kinds of wine that went with our meal: the Talamonti ‘Tavo’ Pinot Grigio (Italy), Concheros Y Criadores ‘Infinitus’ Tempranillo (Spain) and Tatachilla Growers Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (Australia).
Circa, thanks for your hospitality. Satiated is the magic word. Second is ‘impressed’ 🙂
Sanjercasvil Road, Gorordo Avenue
Lahug, Cebu City
(032) 239 6265