Cesare Mammarella knows what he’s doing. This restaurateur has turned downtown around with a variety of restaurants, from his original Tic Toc Room to the student-friendly Bearfoot Tavern to his newest hit, Ginger Stir Fry. Now, he has expanded past the boundaries of downtown into the Forsyth Road area with Brasserie Circa.
He has taken a space that has cursed many other restaurants during the past decade and turned it into something with promise. The formerly wasted area in the back has been updated with frosted glass panels that create a private space for large groups and private events. The awkward side door has been relocated to the front with a new bar area meeting you at the entrance. The colors have been darkened to add elegance and the main room feels more intimate and yet roomy.
The wait staff has obviously been well-trained, refolding our napkins when we leave the table, being thoroughly familiar with the menu in order to make suggestions, and dressed with attention and attractiveness. We only had two snafus in our service: the wrong sides came out with our entrees, and our conversation was interrupted to take our order. In most other restaurants, the latter issue would not have been unusual, but in a restaurant where they refold your napkin for you, wait staff normally waits for you as well as on you.
We began our meal with the crab and lobster dip, served with triangles of flat bread. It was good but not outstanding; I would choose from their wide sushi selection instead next time.
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Our entrees were the Circa steak burger, the Brasserie 10-ounce steak, and the lobster club. The steak burger was tremendous: juicy, ground in-house steak, topped with Gruyere cheese and caramelized onions, served on a mouth-watering brioche. Thirteen dollars was a very reasonable price for this hand-pattied beauty with a side of smoked Gouda and sweet pepper mac and cheese.
The steak was cooked exactly as ordered, which is no mean feat if other restaurants are any indication. Served with fairly bland mashed potatoes, the $28 price seemed a bit high, but true connoisseurs will consider the meat itself worth it.
The lobster club was a tasty heart attack on a bun. Fried lobster, thick-cut bacon, avocado and remoloude on a thick baguette, I decided to eat the insides and leave all the extra bread. Sixteen dollars seems right for lobster, even fried, especially once you add the thick steak fries to the deal.
If there seems to be a disconnect between this nit-picky review and the three and a half star rating, it’s because I know Cesare is a perfectionist and would want to know every little thing that could be improved.
Brasserie Circa is a class act.
Address: 4420 Forsyth Road, Macon
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday brunch
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: Yes
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 100
Price range: $12-$26
Rating: 3.5 stars