Restaurant Review: The Circus

Just like the Bath landmark for which it is named, The Circus restaurant breathes class 
and elegance – splashes of well-chosen colour set off walls painted cream and beige, golden wood fittings, and small tables laid with sparkling china and crystal. If you want a table – and believe me, you want a table – then you need to make sure you call in advance, particularly on the weekends, so that you stand a chance of getting seated on the ground floor, ideally in one of the cosy window seats that allow you a sun-drenched view of Brock St, one of the city centre’s most elegant addresses.

The menu is concise but widely varied, which is the way I like it – I want the chef to tell me what to eat. There are no starters at lunchtime (when I visited to do this review) but don’t miss the chance to nibble on some fabulous Hobbs House bread with unsalted butter, which makes a marvellous appetiser. Make sure that you ask about the day’s specials, which are usually two fish dishes featuring fresh, locally-caught produce.

On the Saturday that we popped in for a leisurely lunch, The Circus was offering fat local sardines, grilled simply and served with aioli and zingy watercress – a gorgeously summery combination of flavours, with the rich, bold flavours of the fish balanced by a sprinkle of lemon juice and the creamy garlic hit of the aioli. A glass of the House white, crisp and juicy, washed the whole thing down perfectly.

The dessert menu is, again, limited to just a handful of dishes, but you will nevertheless be spoilt for choice. I was sorely tempted to try them all, but managed to restrain myself, although I scraped the plate of my chocolate truffle mousse clean – the chocolate itself was rich and velvety, the unctuousness beautifully balanced by crunchy hazelnut and rosemary praline, and a drizzle of rosemary-scented liqueur across the plate. My dining companion chose the blackberry and bay leaf crème brulée, which was also sumptuous – in fact, I’m not sure I can really tell you which to choose. The vanilla custard was expertly scented with a touch of bay leaf, and finished off with a gorgeous deep purple layer of tangy blackberries at the bottom.

Just like its namesake, The Circus is gloriously British and not afraid to shout about it – not only unafraid to borrow the best bits of other cuisines, but able to marry them together in a way that is unique and scrumptious. Go there soon, and make sure you order two desserts.