The restaurants that are typically associated with Washington, D.C. are those with large spaces, corporate tendencies, and massive Cheesecake Factory sized menus. Some of them are classics, like the ones around Pennsylvania Ave and Penn Quarter, while others fall short. Navy Yard has space and a growing residential community fit for a new and happening restaurant scene, and that’s exactly what went down with the opening of Circa Nacy Yard. With locations in and around D.C., the franchise has spread its wings around the DMV.
We went to check out brunch on a busy, beautiful Sunday to see if the concept could carry its own in the increasingly large restaurant-forward area. Circa’s menu is the classic American bistro with everything from burgers, to flatbreads, to pasta and sides. It’s difficult to figure out what would be unique without being too risky, so we played it relatively safe.
We started with an Aperol spritz and a black Manhattan. The spritz was served in an extra large wine glass and was sadly watery. It didn’t give me that beachside feeling I was longing for. As a whiskey fan, the black Manhattan was delicious. It was strong and licoricey, but easy to sip.
The perks of big menus are that they typically have the most craveable American bistro items. For us, it was fried calamari. The appetizer was rightfully tender and not overly fried, but I wasn’t a fan of the sweet chili dipping sauce. In my opinion, calamari calls for an aioli or marinara sauce. We also ordered grilled cauliflower. I appreciated the fact that they had a vegetable side that wasn’t fried, but this cauliflower was sitting in a bath of what tasted like Italian dressing– it was overly acidic and inedibly oily.
For mains, we went with the crab cake Eggs Benedict, salmon salad, and French toast. The crab cake was a little soggy and fell apart too quickly, though the flavor was spot on. Eggs were well cooked, and while we’d never diss a Thomas English Muffin, it wasn’t toasted and became a pillow of mush beneath the already soft layers above it.
The salmon salad was tasty, blackened on the outside and medium on the inside. The salad itself was fresh and had a variety of spring vegetables. Though still heavy on the dressing, overall it was as expected to be.
The French toast was extremely sweet. I liked the cereal cinnamon crust surrounding the white bread triangles, but it’s definitely a dish to share and not substantial enough for a main course.
The Bitches Say: 3.5 champagne flutes. Everyone can get something they like at Circa. They have a good bottomless deal and the food is reliable. Nothing to rave about but it’s an easy place to commit to with friends, parents, or large groups.