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Eating good at Cazenovia's Circa Restaurant

Working with dedicated local producers, Alicyn allows the quality of the ingredients to speak for themselves, so that so that every dish, whether a bowl of soup or a dinner entree, is simply prepared and yet more than the sum of its parts. A recent lunch date with Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, author of the Cookin' in the 'Cuse blog, makes my point. For lunch, Jennifer and I began with the cheese plate appetizer ($10), which featured generous portions of Old Chatham's Hudson Valley Camembert and Ewe's Blue, a decadently rich, sheep's milk blue cheese, two "Dutch-style" semi-soft cheeses from Dutch Girl, an artisanal cheesemaker in Leonardsville, and my personal favorite, a crumbly, full-flavored Tilsit from the Brovetto Dairy Farm of Harpersfield, which was washed in Ommegang Ale.

For our lunch entrees, Jennifer ordered the daily special, a grilled panini sandwich of sliced chicken breast, avocado, and field greens served on home-baked bread ($7), while I ordered the cup of soup and 1/2 sandwich combo ($7) The soup, a parsnip and carrot puree, was thick and delicious, with a silky smooth texture. The chicken (I also ordered the daily special) was tender and flavorful, with a slight gaminess that immediately reminded me that free-range, farm-raised chicken tastes nothing like the flavorless, factory-farmed chickens found in most supermarkets.

I've enjoyed many lunches at Circa, including their wonderful hamburgers, which are made from local, pasture-raised beef, lamb, turkey or elk (there is also a homemade vegetarian burger), and which come with fresh, homemade potato chips. For lunch, the burgers, which come with various toppings and are served on a homemade brioche roll, cost $6 to $7; they are also available on the dinner menu, for $10, and are served with a side of homemade chips and a Caesar salad or a salad of organic field greens.

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