Restaurant Review: Circa 1918

Last Thursday the Air Force Technical Sergeant promotion list came out, and Graham was on it! I’m going to be braggy for a minute, because I’m super proud of him. Everyone he’s spoken to has tested for Tech 5, 6, even 7 times. Graham made it on his second test. He studied really hard for it, and I absolutely love it when hard work pays off. I’m especially glad he made it, because he was at a Commander’s call at the time and couldn’t look, so I looked it up for him. I would have hated to tell him that his name wasn’t on the list. I left work a little early Thursday so I could go to the promotion ceremony on base that he was “highly encouraged” (read: required) to go to. There was cake, and they were allowed to have one beer. So afterwards, we went out and had our own celebration at a restaurant that I’ve been dying to try: Circa 1918.

Before we moved here, I started looking for other people in the area to follow on Instagram, hoping to find great spots to check out. One of the people I found was Nancy over at Artsy Chicks Rule. She instagrammed a dinner at Circa 1918, and I immediately saved it on my “restaurants to try” list. I actually wanted to eat there for our anniversary, but we couldn’t get a reservation. Luckily I was able to get a reservation for that evening.

The restaurant is in the historic Hilton Village area of Newport News and it’s a tiny little place. I didn’t understand before why we couldn’t get a reservation on a Wednesday night, but now I do. When we were there, all of the tables were full, and every seat at the bar was taken as well. The guys working there knew everyone by name, so I’m guessing this place has a lot of regular customers. After having the food, I understood why.

We started our dinner with drinks & an appetizer. I had the Pear’fect Match, which was Absolut Pear Vodka, pear puree & ginger. It was absolutely delicious. I thought it might be too sweet, but it was perfect. The ginger gave it a nice kick. I usually only have one cocktail when we’re out (for budget & caloric reasons…), but that night I had two. The second was the Ava Gardner, which was vodka, berry compote and St. Germain. The cocktail itself was good, but the best part was that thing in the middle of it. I honestly had no clue what it was, so I flagged down a waiter and he told me it was a completely edible candied hibiscus flower. It tasted like a fruit roll up.

PicMonkey Collage
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For an appetizer, I was immediately drawn to the Tiger Prawns with Brie & Chorizo grits in a smoked annatto seed shrimp broth. The color of this was a little intimidating. It looked like it was going to be hot. It was slightly spicy, and so delicious. The grits were rich & creamy and the shrimp were delicious. All of their small plates sounded excellent, except the lamb and that’s only because I don’t eat lamb, so next time I think we might just order one of everything for dinner.

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When our waiter told us the entrée that was on special, honestly we both wanted it. But we never order the same thing, so we get to try more items on the menu. The special was swordfish, on top of three Arancini di riso (fried risotto balls) with a shrimp salad on top. I don’t remember all of the details about what was in this (pet peeve: I hate when specials aren’t written down, but just recited to you), but it was so good. The risotto was perfect! Super crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The fish was perfectly cooked and full of flavor.

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I always end up getting salmon. That night was no exception. It was wild caught Alaskan sockeye salmon on a lentil, mung and adzuki bean sauté, with Brussel radish kim chee and jalapeno cucumber crème fraiche. Honestly, I almost passed on this because I thought there may be too much going on, but this was so delicious. The bean sauté was unexpectedly spicy and different, but still delicious. This salmon though… oh my. I asked for it cooked medium and it came out absolutely perfect.

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We were both too full for dessert, but their desserts looked incredible. We’ll have to save room for those next time too 😉 This was probably the priciest dinner we’ve had in Virginia, but it was definitely worth it. The hardest part about being in a new area has been finding new restaurants I adore. Our first few dining experiences in Virginia were pretty bad, but dinners like this are giving me hope that the food scene here has a lot of great places we just need to get out & discover.

2 thoughts on “Restaurant Review: Circa 1918

  1. Amber says:

    I’m catching up on your blog…I LOVE Circa and the Ava Gardner especially. Not sure if you make it to the Norfolk side too often, but the food scene there is a little more exciting (poor NN!). Venture in Hampton is also a lot of fun.

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