A great local independent café that does what it says it does
It was chance that my party of six found that our local café at Canonmills do a 2 course express lunch menu for £8.95 when we made a cheeky wee November foray for a Winter lunch together before these nasty hiked up ‘Christmas menus’ appear. Ok, I know parties and works’ nights out need to be catered for but some of us just want a good meal without the metaphorical holly on the top.
Circle opened in 2004 and in the last seven years has lived up to its ethos of “… (creating) a neighbourhood café which sourced and served seasonal, stylish and interesting food.” There is a rustic atmosphere with the bare stone walls and pleasant view out to the back garden from the tall window in the longish, narrow eating area with alcoves on the walls and high Georgian ceiling. Fresh bread is on sale (if you’re early enough) and there is a selection of home baking at the counter as you enter.
Their à la carte menu and blackboard specials are not over-priced and definitely in the affordable bracket but three of us opted for the express deal. The soup of the day was tomato, chilli and chick pea served with generous chunks of fresh bread and fresh butter. This was not my choice but it looked hearty and generous if a bit over-pureed. It was fresh and colourful and nicely presented in a big white bowl that showed off the bright tasty soup.
I went for the Stornoway black pudding on blinis with red onion marmalade. It arrived with ‘eat me’ written all over its lovely colours and was accompanied by a delicately fine cut salad. The pudding itself was perfect with just the right amount of marmalade topping. The serving of a salad may seem basic, but there is a world of difference between some hacked up iceberg and a token lump of pepper to what I had on my plate – light and delicious leaves with slim red onion slices and tiny cherry tomatoes. Yum!
Courgette, leek and borlotti bean cakes with lime and sweet chilli dip was the choice of the other express luncher who enjoyed it though felt the cakes were a wee bit dry. This dish was also chosen as a main by another lunch companion who tucked in though with a similar reservation about the dryness.
For me, risotto is the ultimate comfort food so there was no contest when I spied the butternut squash and sage version on the menu. The portion was not very big but actually it was quite enough. What is it they say about being as good as a feast? The other person who chose this dish thought it a bit bland but it was exactly what it said it was – butternut and sage. The texture was good, the appearance enticing and the taste delicious.
Sticking with the rules of eating for under a tenner, I stuck to tap water and skipped the temptation of cake but did indulge in that turned out to be a proper espresso – not a wee cup of whatever’s just been made!
Circle is a relaxed place to eat and meet. A great local independent that does what it says it does.