Circa 1876

Recently, I made my way to Hunter Valley with my friends for one reason...FOOD! We simply wanted to go on a mini food adventure and also check out the wineries before the grapes and leaves completely gone. We were deciding where we wanted to go for lunch and we ended up booking Circa 1867 as their menu sounded amazing and they had won the 2017 NSW Regional 'Fine Dining' award from Savour Australia.

We originally wanted to go for their 7 course tasting menu, however due to the time constraint we opted for the 3 course menu which included an entrée, main and dessert. Florence and I decided to share the dishes we had chosen so we could taste more than just 3 dishes.  

From the entrée Florence and I ordered their carpaccio (which is similar to tataki-raw slices of beef/fish) and foie gras. 
The carpaccio was made of beef port jelly smoked egg yolk, truffle aioli, baby capers, parmesan, quail egg and fresh truffle. The beef was tender, smooth and went very well with the toppings. However, the truffle wasn't very strong in aroma as it is was served with a cold dish. 
As for the foie gras it had blueberry, blueberry compote, smoked aligot, blueberry gel and croute. This was a very unique combination of flavours yet it was just so right! The blueberry elements would counter the heaviness of the foie gras allowing a lighter after taste on the palette. 

The other dishes which my friends had ordered included: 
Seared sea scallops with smoked pork jowl, caramelised cauliflower & black garlic puree, bacon & corn pickle, fresh apple and cider glaze(GF).
Sesame crusted yellow fin tuna with a soft cooked pullet egg, olive cheeks, chipotle aioli, wasabi roe, fresh garden greens and lime(GF).
Crispy skin jumbo quail with smoked beetroots, goats cheese, beetroot puree, garam masala, beetroot chips and fresh garden greens(GF).

For our main we ordered the Hunter Valley lamb rump and the blue eye cod. The lamb was served medium with baby carrots, smoked baby beetroot, lemon, garlic & thyme goats cheese, muntrie berries, saltbush, pistachio, pomegranate, truffle,  caper vinaigrette. The lamb was tender and succulent and didn't have a strong gamey taste. It went very well with the dressing, cheese and vegetables, especially the refreshing sourness and sweetness from the pomegranate.
The blue eye cod katsuobushi (bonito flakes) was served in a porcini broth with green tea soba noodles, nameko mushroom, S.A prawn, broccolini, nori, crisp garlic, peas and smoked roe. This seafood dish was simply delightful to have as both the flavours and textures were well balanced. The cod was firm that it would hold its shape but the moment you cut through the flesh it would separate in beautiful flakey layers. The umami of the cod was just delicate and delicious. 

Other dishes my friends ordered for their main included:
Jacks creek beef tenderloin with cauliflower puree, king brown mushrooms, foie gras, summer beans and port jus(GF).
Sous vide kangaroo loin served medium with zesty quinoa, purple sweet potato, snow peas, jus and blackcurrant gel(GF).
Curry myrtle smoked emu fillet with peach gastrique, macadamia paste, asparagus, warragul greens and caramelised peach potato tuile(GF).

After our main we had a bite size palette freshener before dessert was served. 

And finally for dessert I had the Chai panna cotta and the Circa strawberry. The Circa strawberries & cream nitrogen with poached strawberry mousse, vanilla and strawberry ice-cream, strawberry jelly, strawberry Snow, dehydrated strawberries, sweet crumble and cream was quite an interesting dessert. The taste was not bad and the flavours were more on the lighter side.
On the other hand, the chai panna cotta was full of flavour and texture. The panna cotta came with dehydrated pumpkin, cardamom jelly, pumpkin & cinnamon puree, pecan and pistachio & almond crumb. It was the perfect autumn themed dish that day and I absolutely loved this particular dessert as it was rich in flavour but not too heavy. This would go perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. 

The other dessert served to our table were the: 
Pistachio tart with raspberry & aniseed gel, thyme cream, candied pistachio and fresh raspberries.
Matcha green tea & white chocolate silk cake with matcha sponge, white chocolate chards and green tea chantilly. 
Bailey’s and white chocolate cheesecake with brandy snaps, caramelised white chocolate, bailey’s foam, caramel, orange powder(GF). 

Overall, I would recommend coming to Circa 1876 if you're around Hunter Valley for the weekend. The dishes were prepared well and service was exceptional. I might come back again to try their 7 course degustation menu next time. 
As we were waiting to pay the bill we started admiring the beautiful interior and exterior of the building. We noticed the staff running around outside and inside preparing for the next event of the day which was for a wedding. We left Circa with full belly's and satisfaction! 

64 Halls Road Pokolbin NSW 2320
Opening Hours: 
Lunch: 12PM - 2:30PM

Dinner: 5:30PM - 9PM
Ph: (02) 4998 4999
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