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Caz restaurant celebrates year

Circa comes around the calendar

New American cuisine restaurant is thriving with a year under its belt

By Willie Kiernan

Although first years of new restaurants are notoriously fragile, Circa has managed to get over the hump. The restaurant on Albany Street featuring new American cuisine is now one year-old. Chef and owner, Alicyn Hart and husband Eric Woodworth have recently added a third family member to the team, little Owen. Hart preps, cooks and often serves tables with her baby in her arms.

"He's a good baby and everybody loves him," Hart said.

Hart studied liberal arts in Connecticut and finished her last semester in Ireland. She worked her way around Europe going from kitchen to kitchen in France, Holland and the Austrian Alps. She moved to the area about four years ago and took a job teaching in an adult culinary arts program for BOCES in Liverpool.

"My mom's from Clinton," Hart said. "Dad's from Utica."

After Hart met Woodworth, the couple got married and opened Circa Feb. 1 of 2006. The name means around or about, and that's where they get a lot of their food.

"I didn't want a name that would dictate what kind of food I would cook," Hart said. "We use a lot of locally harvested ingredients and everything is seasonal. We get meats from small farms where they graze on grass."

After a Post-Standard article made a splash of their $10 burger, curiosity seekers made it their biggest seller for a while. Hart says the grass fed ground chuck is the secret; it's not as fatty because it's not grain fed.

"We also support local farms because they don't use hormones or antibiotics," Hart said. "And of course, there's the freshness."

Circa's menus are as fresh as the food. They change seasonally as well as week to week. Hart creates menus like an artist with a seemingly endless array of gourmet colors on her palette. With a variety of soups, appetizers and entrees, Circa offers a vast selection of culinary delights that encircles the globe in its breadth, from duck confit to honest meatloaf, from vegetarian leek soup to lentil samosas.

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