The "Other" Circa Offers Second Rate Luxury Dining in Lekki
NOSA: From the moment the security guard said only "certain cars" could be parked inside, I knew Circa Privé was going to be terrible time. I didn't even have to get to the "no shorts allowed" argument with the doorman to be certain.
FOLLY: My cousin told me about her experience at the Circa Prive gate a few days before we visited. She was initially barred from parking inside because the status of her car was not befitting of their establishment. Words were exchanged and she eventually parked inside. I was really blown away that the security uttered the statement about the status of her car so I was curious what would happen when I visited. Here’s what happened.
I approached the gate and asked if they were open because they we no cars. The security confirmed they were and asked me to kindly reverse and park outside. I chucked and asked why. He said “the time is not ready for parking inside”. I deflected and said “but the restaurant is open, I checked on Instagram”. He responded that yes they were, but his reason for not inviting me to park had now changed. He stated that
“ they won’t be happy with us if you park inside”
Hmm “who is they”? I really wanted him to get to the point where he made a remark of the status of my car but this man didn’t want to go down that path. At least with me, when Nosa drove up a couple meetings later, he wasn’t so shy and told him that the status of his car didn’t qualify. I asked him that if he could kindly tell me why I couldn’t park inside that I would agree but I just needed to know why. He then paused and said:
“How I go fit talk this one now, but if you can just park outside please”
Oga you can say it with your chest
He then stepped back, gestured to his colleague that I didn’t agree. She then proceeded to open the gate.
NOSA: If you're going to be this pretentious as a Lagos restaurant, the least you could do is not be located in Lekki. Also, go all out and make it a "members only" thing like Miliki or Capital Club. Let everyone know you're truly for the cream of the crop and not for poors like us.
FOLLY: I feel so awkward for the security men who have been instructed by the owners to tell patrons that their cars are not worthy of parking inside. It’s extremely inappropriate and quite frankly just as crass at the Tearoom’s owners antics, the only difference is that Circa’s owners are using the security men as a buffer to deliver their ugly classist behaviour and you know what God doesn’t like..Ugly.
NOSA: Circa's biggest crime is just how tacky it is. It wants to ooze aspirational so bad but everything just falls a bit short like the doorman's ill fitting suit.
FOLLY: I was the only one in the restaurant when I arrived so honestly I don’t know what the fuss was all about and when we left about 5 hours later - there was still available parking spaces inside for the range rovers and the likes
FOLLY: Contrary to everything this blog suggests, we (all writers on EDL) have a fixed budget per month for consumption. This is a business after all. As such, when faced with Circa’s menu, every page we turned was a “how we go take do am” moment.
NOSA: There's a N90,000 steak on a menu, which is a blatant bite from one of the most viral chefs of the last five years.
If you list an unoriginal 90k steak in a restaurant where the waiters forget there should napkins on the table, you really aren't serious. I'm being completely honest here
FOLLY: We decided we were going to go with two starters and keep them at or under N10,00 which is a Herculean task as the average price of the starters on their menu is N7,460. You can double check my math here.
The spring rolls came in at N3,500 while the magic mushrooms were N6,500. Exactly at our target. Honestly, It’s a lot more than we’d usually spend at most restaurants for only two starters.
FOLLY: The spring rolls were okay but no where near worth N3500 for plain vegetable spring rolls (given that Chinese restaurants charge N250 a pop for the same and infinitely better and crunchier). However, given the finesse of the restaurant, I imagine the prices have to be at a certain minimum. In this case, it’s more “packaging” than finesse if you ask me objectively.
NOSA: At roughly N700/spring roll, it's not disingenuous to expect more but I guess somebody has to pay for diesel so maybe we can let it slide. You'll probably eat better from your neighborhood small chops plug
NOSA: The Mushroom Magic was a shade better. If your Beninoise cook made this at home, you’d definitely give him a pat on the back. The peas and carrots were definitely from a bag or can.
FOLLY: The carrots were too perfectly uniform to suggest otherwise and the peas had that frozen and reheated wrinkling. You know the one.
NOSA: For our mains, we ordered the ribs and the Chef's Special pasta. The ribs taste like those frozen ribs you can buy in the freezer section at Park n' Shop.
FOLLY: The imported type that are in a box and you can pop in the oven for 30 minutes. An absolute rip off for N21,000. Here are the crimes:
Tenderness of the meat
Boney-ness of the ribs
Quality of the BBQ sauce
NOSA: The BBQ sauce is artificially sweet so you know it came straight out of a bottle. The meat itself isn't tender enough to fall off the bone.
FOLLY: I can say with a certain degree of certainty that there was no rum flaming involved in the making of these ribs, contrary to what the menu suggests.
NOSA: We don’t have any pictures of the fries or the side salad because the waiter forgot to bring it out. When we reminded him about it, we were already done with picture taking for the afternoon. Just know they looked like fries and a side salad respectively. No olive wood or edible flowers though.
For a third of the price, you'd probably forgive all these things but this is like the third most expensive thing (after the 90k steak and a 32k steak) on the menu. If you gave this same 21k to Heels in the Kitchen, you'll get yourself a full tray and not the seven bones Circa served us. Also, you’d probably be contributing to her adorable daughter’s school fees so you’re like a good person to boot.
FOLLY: It didn’t get any better with the pasta which arrived at the table cold - btw. On the menu the chef’s special pasta is listed as PISELLI. MENTA. CIPOLLA.
NOSA: I know I’m blind but that definitely looks like penne and not tagliatelle. Just look at Circa Privé lying again.
FOLLY: In case you also don’t speak Italian like us, that translates to peas, mint and onion. I strongly wish I had Googled that before ordering and we may have ordered differently.
As the name implied all these three things played a heavy role in this dish.
The sauce was a combination of pea puree, herbs and cream. The rosemary was so dominant. I’ve never had a pasta dish that had such strong rosemary notes. I actually prefer rosemary in drinks particularly cocktails or in cooking meats, I really wasn’t a fan of the chef’s application here.
NOSA: The pasta wasn't any better than the ribs. The presentation was great and the pictures look amazing, but it was deathly bland. This is probably the most upsetting thing about Circa. For all the "packaging", the food isn't any good. If it was, I'd gladly park a mile away and come dressed in my Sunday best.
This is really Rhapsody-level food at double RSVP prices.
FOLLY: To top it all off, they had no dessert available.
NOSA: Not. A. Single. One.
If you’re in Lekki and you’re really in the mood to spend a lot of money on a date, just go to HSE Gourmet and save yourself the stress.
NOSA: Second rate luxury dining for a second rate luxury residential area.
FOLLY: Do not recommend for the food 3/10. For drinks and escapism, it’s an okay option but then you come out and you’re still in Lekki.
Spring Rolls - N3500
Magic Mushroom - N6500
PISELLI. MENTA. CIPOLLA - N8500
Flaming Pork Ribs (1kg) - N21500
You will not be allowed to park inside if your car is not of a befitting status