A house of memories and food

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014


IN A modern society of middle class gatherings, fancy dining and high-end restaurants, it’s always nice to find places that take people back in time.

It’s a trip down memory lane at Circa 1900, a quaint, new entrant in the local dining scene nestled in Sanjercasvil Road in Gorordo Ave. in Lahug, Cebu City.

Circa 1900 opened last March 14 in a regular house in the neighborhood. The whitewashed, wooden house is a colonial dwelling place restored and repurposed into a restaurant, piano bar and function space.

Nothing much has changed with the house. The original architecture has been preserved. Some of the furniture like a few tables are still intact although the rest are contemporary add-ons. Other interior parts were broken down to maximize space for other areas such as the veranda and those secluded corners. Select photographs of old Cebu are pinned on the walls to complement the entire sepia theme. Something more interesting is that what used to be the horse stable downstairs has been converted into one of the function rooms.

Jazz and blues set the mood while you wait for your chows. The indoor area is air-conditioned most of the day but at three in the afternoon, windows are opened for a siesta ambiance, just about time for drinks and snacks at the front yard. Obviously, the whole throwback atmosphere is intended to capture an overall feel of the old world.

The main dining and the piano bar of Circa 1900 can accommodate 23 and 20 persons, respectively. A private room admits 24 persons, another dining area is for about 14 while the lounge can hold up to 9. The veranda is also available for 16 seating.

At the ground floor are two function rooms; a retail area with a tabo (weekly market) concept featuring Cebuano products; and a gallery for homegrown artists.

As much as it wanted to be remembered for its classic aura, Circa 1900, for this matter, also wants to be respected for its food.

“Food is the interpretation of who we are,” said operations manager Eya Shrimski.

With the genius creations of an Australian chef, Circa 1900 is home to international cuisine that pays respect to the Filipino culinary heritage by drawing influences from local ingredients, farm to fork style. In line with its sustainable practice, Circa 1900 sports its own organic garden outside where majority of the greens for food recipes are grown.

The menu is a balance of veggies and meat. Everything might end up as a favorite.

To jumpstart the meal are “Asian Pancake Rolls.” The appetizer is a roll of slow braised orange duck with mini bean curd fries and Chinese pancake.

Circa 1900’s “Wild Musroom Ravioli” also prepares the stomach for a series of gastronomic adventures. It’s filled with porcini, abalone mushrooms (also known as white elf) and spinach paired with truffle cream sauce.

For the main course, they have the “Crunchy Slow-roast Pork Belly.” Unlike other regular versions, Circa 1900’s take is roasted for three hours to perfection! Based on orders, the dish, which is served with apple sauce and fennel compote is a stellar piece on the table back to back with “Chicken Simmered in Cocodobo Sauce.”

Another main item is the “Char-Grilled Beef Tenderloin” with laing and creamy pepper sauce. The meat comes in local beef medallions or Australian premium grass-fed angus tenderloin. Fork that pork!

Circa 1900’s “Chicken Bringhe, Turmeric and Vegetable Paella Cake” is also a fascinating entry on its own. Peppered with coconut and raisins, and topped with sauted chicken and sprouts, this pack of brownish poultry makes an instant chicken fan out of the diner.

The “Pan-fried Salmon” with dill, chervil and garlic beurre blanc is a display of colors. A slice of orange fish is set on a bed of yellow mashed potato with strips of green and red spices and a thin whip of white cream. It offers a burst of soft elements in the palate.

Meanwhile, the smoked marlin blends well with all the healthy goodness of arugula, mesclun and saba banana. A fishy and veggie tandem of singkamas and tangy wasabi-dill sauce is just about the right mix of “experimental” salad.

Maja blanca, cheesecake, banana coconut cake with malunggay ice cream and the signature pumpkin pie are just among the lineup of desserts for a daily sugar fix.

Circa 1900’s shake offering is also a must-try, especially the iba shake, a sweet variant with a tangy kick.

Not only an ideal house for innovative food, Circa 1900 also offers a breadth of locally sourced good wines, from whites to reds to sparkles.

They started through word of mouth. But while they are still trying to observe the habits of the market, a significant influx of customers is already happening at Circa 1900, from friends, families, corporate groups to foreigners—a healthy start for a young player. People are coming to experience the venue and food altogether.

Travel through time (and food) at Circa 1900 everyday from 11 a.m. to 12 midnight. They just opened lunch late April while a Sunday buffet lunch will soon be available.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 04, 2014.

Lifestyle

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