Renowned playwright Bertolt Brecht claims that theatre’s business is “to entertain people … it needs no other passport than fun.” In a city where theatre and culture take a backseat to the business of eating and drinking, our entertainment does predominantly revolve around restaurants and thus calling the latest establishment on Beach Road a “food theatre”, is not all that far-fetched.
With Italian, Lebanese, and Asian restaurants, as well as the mass-market mayhem of Krispy Kremes and KFC taking up the two-floored building, fun in the form of food comes from all corners of the globe. But don’t come expecting theatre that involves fire throwers, acrobats or opera singers; this is essentially a food court.
It was the voluminous, volcanic-like lemon meringue pie that we spied through the window spurting forth mounds of molten meringue that clinched our decision to opt for Circle over and above the others. A salad and sandwich café on the second tier directly overlooking Jumeirah Beach Park, Circle has filled a gap in the market as big as one of the Holocene volcanoes in the Andes Mountains.
Finding a decent sandwich with good bread in Dubai is almost as challenging as trying to sign up for the new ID card, but now you need look no further as Circle offers a variety of different flavoured bagels that are all fresh and filling.
We admired our surroundings as we waited for our juices – the wait was a good sign as fresh carrot and apple juices take a while to create if they are not simply poured out of a carton. These arrived looking like tropical fruit cocktails and were as fresh and provocative as a fight between a blender and Carmen Miranda’s hat – but these weren’t cloying or obnoxious and didn’t leave a ghastly taste in the mouth.
The light and airy surroundings with the floor to ceiling shards of glass on the one side also give Circle an edge over the competition. Sparkling white tiles hold tables and chairs that could have come straight from Louis XVI’s Palace of Versailles. Gunmetal grey walls are adorned with bright Mae West pictures, stainless steel gilded mirrors and black and white prints of rural France and pre 911 New York. Great big white lanterns hang from the ceiling like interwoven circular shapes of genetically modified tagliatelle, while little girls who we presumed to be the owner’s daughters provided the finishing touches by placing a rose on each table. The effect is both family-friendly front room and chic Parisian café.
My companion is a great fan of More café’s pumpkin salad and so opted for the one here to see if it was in the same league. With a massive mound of mixed green and purple leaves, snowball shaped scoops of goat’s cheese, tart cherry tomatoes, vibrant sun-dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and syrupy grilled pumpkin; she declared the one here a winner by virtue of the fact that it has more variety. Her only minor complaint, and this is probably rooted in greediness, was that being a pumpkin salad, it could have boasted a bit more of the orange stuff.
My roast beef bagel was also a resounding success. Chunky slices of juicy meat were layered onto bagel baked with mixed flours and seeds and grounded by a nose-ticklingly good Dijon mustard. Crisp lettuce provided the necessary greens, while tangy sun-dried tomatoes cheekily perked up the sandwich. Served with a side of salad and a handful of crisps, this may be a tad more expensive than your average office sandwich, but boy is it worth the extra few dirhams.
And so to the frisky lemon meringue teasing us from its cake-stand upfront, defying us not to be swayed by its fluffy meringue and gooey lemon charms. Even if our lunch hadn’t been such a success we would still find ourselves returning to Circle for a slice of this sensational, perfectly proportioned, three-dimensional pie, quite possibly the best of its sort that I’ve ever sampled.
Having set such a high precedent it was always going to be difficult for the carrot cake to achieve such greatness, especially since it also had to live up to the one offered at the Lime Tree Café. It didn’t, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t delicious. Smothered in smooth cream cheese icing, the grated carrots and chopped walnuts lend it an air of wholesomeness, but while it’s moist, it’s just a tiny bit too cakey.
Still, Circle is closer to Jumeirah Beach Park than the Lime Tree Café and I predict that as the beaches get busier, so too will Circle and, quite possibly, the other establishments here. It’s not theatre as you know it, but there are ample opportunities for your palates to perform.
A meal for two with juices cost Dhs180