Circa has moved out east--6150 Poplar Avenue #122, 746-9130.
119 S. Main
When I read that Circa was offering a special prix fixe menu for The Lion King and that there was a special menu for kids, I had to go. I had been wavering on The Lion King, but the prospect of a fancy dinner and free valet parking made it a lock. However, the most appealing part of this idea was that it would just me and Satchel, age 5. (To be fair, I asked Warren if he wanted to go--he didn't--and Jiro isn't officially old enough according to the Orpheum.)
My mom had already planned to take my niece and nephew to the show, so we all decided to try out the Circa deal. I had been a couple of times for lunch (before Koeppel blasted them and they quit serving lunch) and had been wanting to go for dinner. When I told Satchel about our date, he wasn't really all that excited, but that soon changed.
My mom, niece, and nephew arrived at my house around 5:30pm and we all piled into one car and headed downtown for our 6:00pm reservation. Since I work downtown, I had already scoped out the valet parking entrance on Gayoso off of Front. We pulled right up to the front door of Circa, handed off the keys and started our culinary adventure.
The hostess was very friendly as were the 5-10 other waitrons who set about making us comfortable and welcome. I was very surprised to see that we were the only people taking advantage of The Lion King dinner. Aside from a private party in the back, we were the only table. That was fine by me--especially if the collective monkeys decided to, well, start acting like monkeys.
After a long day at the Cooper-Young festival, Satchel was looking a bit worn out. When I saw him yawning, I got a little concerned about whether he could stay awake through the entire show--and whether I'd be able to carry him down from the uppermost balcony should he go into a deep sleep. So when the waitress informed me that they didn't have (caffeine free) Root Beer, I looked at Satchel, decided it was a "special occasion" and said, "How about a Coke?"
He looked at me like, "Are you my mommy?" and nodded in agreement. I had wanted a beer, but was beginning to doubt whether I could stay awake myself, so I also ordered a Coke. Our drinks arrived with cherries inside, which of course, was a big hit with the kids. Satchel quickly ate mine, but spent a good deal of time playing "Go Fish" with his. I eventually had to take his glass away for fear that it was going to end up all over the floor. He didn't seem to care, and spent the rest of the meal happily drinking his water. (Later when I asked if he liked his Coke he said no and that "It tasted too much like Sprite" whatever that means!)
The $12 "Cub" menu featured a first course of Fresh Vegetable Crudites and Fruit, a entree choice of Chicken a la Lion King, Macaroni 'n Cheese or a Pair of Beef Sirloin Sliders, and a dessert choice of homemade sorbets or ice creams. I figured the Beef Sirloin Sliders were strips of steak and asked Satchel if he wanted "Steak." He licked his lips and nodded eagerly. My niece was going to get the macaroni 'n cheese with added shrimp (add $4), but changed her mind when the waitress informed us that sliders were like little hamburgers.
The adult prix fixe menu was $30. I went for the Lobster and Crab Bisque which I knew to be delicious from my lunchtime visits, the Filet Mignon Bourdelaise, and the Chef's Il Diplomatico (Dark Chocolate Mousse layered with Coconut Rum infused Cake). My mom had the Grilled Blackened Fish du Jour (I forget which fish) and my nephew had the Tasmanian King Salmon Buerre Rouge.
A troupe of waitrons quickly brought out the first course. Satchel and Sutton were both impressed by their fruit and vegetable plates featuring oranges, strawberries, green apples, carrots, celery, and a ranch dipping sauce. As I ate my soup I watched as a very subdued Satchel made his way through the apples and strawberries. Then I noticed that he was eying my bisque. "Want to try my crab soup?" I asked. He nodded and I placed my large bowl in front of him.
"Can I have some?" asked my niece.
"In a minute," I hesitantly replied as I watched Satchel start wolfing it down. "Do you like it?" I asked.
"It's yummy!" he said.
As he ate, he kept sliding away from the table--the floors were very slippery. It was almost comical. "They should glue everything to the floor," he said.
My niece ate every bit of her first course and half of my mom's cream of asparagus soup, then she licked what was left of my bisque out of the bowl. She and Satchel each also had a roll. By the time the main courses arrived, I don't think either one of them was very hungry. Satchel had two tiny bites of one of his mini burgers and most of his fries, excuse me, pomme frites. When I asked Satchel if he liked his burger he said, "It takes like a sausage biscuit!" (I believe this was a compliment.) He and Sutton both put fries on their burgers and Satchel even wrapped a few around each other and called his creation "French Fry Sushi."
Our dinner conversation consisted of Sutton singing Britney Spears songs that she had recently learned thanks to my older sister making her a DVD of old videos and my nephew telling us about playing the Tuba in the school band. It was very cute.
I was very pleased with my filet and tried to interest Satchel with a bite of it or some of the accompanying asparagus, but he refused. I figured he was just full and didn't press it. But then, OF COURSE, came the words that I inevitably hear every time we are in a restaurant.
"I need to poop."
To be fair, he actually phrased it as, "I need to stretch."
I was mostly done with my meal so we headed off to the restrooms. Satchel refused to go in the women's room, so I got to stand at the door of the men's and wait for him.
Thankfully the restrooms were absolutely lovely--clean, fully stocked with lotion and heavy duty cloth-like napkins, etc.
By the time we got back to the table, the dessert had arrived and surprisingly Satchel's ice cream wasn't completely melted. My niece had spilled something and we were having a napkin shortage, but it was quickly remedied by one of our many waitrons. Sutton and Satchel tore through their ice cream, which came with a blueberry filled tart, and my mom, nephew, and I all devoured our Diplomaticos.
Just as I had started getting used to the subdued-ness of a Jiro-free Satchel, he started climbing the walls. Literally. Circa is divided by very intricate walls that are also wine racks. Once the sugar in his ice cream took hold, Satchel was in full monkey form. I got him back in his chair, where he directed his attention to the candle on our table. "Can I blow it out?" he asked.
"Sure," I said.
But, inexplicably, instead of blowing it out, he picked up a piece of broken tart and placed it in the flame. It immediately caught fire--a slow burn, thank goodness--and I very calmly but sternly instructed Satchel to blow it out. He complied and then the burntness wafted through the restaurant. It wasn't as bad as the burnt popcorn smell common in my office, but it was close.
Sutton pointed out the window and said, "Can we go run around out there?" The mall was empty and the stores were all closed, so I said, "YES!" I sent my nephew to supervise and my mom and I paid our tab. (After the fact we noticed that we had been charged separately for the kid's drinks, although they said they were included on the menu, and neither of us had been offered the included coffee. We were too anxious to leave to say anything.)
When the (fantastic) show was over, the valet had a bit of trouble locating our keys, which worried my mom, but not me, since Koeppel had written about a similar experience. While he was looking for them, we noticed the car just a few feet away parked on the street. So once they were located, we just walked ourselves to the car.
Overall, it was a good experience and I'm glad that we went. Satchel excitedly told Jiro all about it when we got home, and points out the restaurant every time we go by. His only regret is eating the bisque. He is quite a crab lover and feels a bit guilty. At least once a day he says, "I don't ever want to eat another crab...even if it is yummy!"