This is interesting, and no April Fool’s joke. For over a year the massive location at 1050 Granville has been something of a running joke in the restaurant trade. Someone sunk a huge amount of money into the building and then couldn’t pay his contractors, etc and had to sell. The restaurant wonks among us know this to be Dolce, a stillborn concept that we never got to see. Well, a group of deep pocketed (and remote) investors picked it up last summer and are now very near finishing the job.
The new 196 seat, two-level restaurant complete with lounge and two bars is called Circa, and it is due to open to the public before the end of April. The former executive chef at Cru, Dana Reinhardt, is running the kitchen with journeyman exec sous John Corsi (ex-Feenies et al). Luck Sarabhayavanija has left Chow and will be running the bar program. The menu will focus on local products with a PacNorWest slant (they’re aiming for Ocean Wise accreditation), with 15-20 small plates at $9-$15 anchoring 5-6 larger ones with a $26-ish ceiling (usual caveats, nothing is set in stone just yet).
The room is freakin’ huge, around the same size as Sanafir down the street (whatever happened to Sanafir?). The aesthetic is sort of Keg-like upstairs and Romanesque downstairs with soaring Norman cathedral arches leading to a metope of Roman legionnaires (in gold) cast from Trajan’s Column in Rome marching around a corner and up a grand staircase (against invisible Goths?). It’s floored with hardwood, chaired with leather, and by day (at least) lit rather gloriously with natural light pouring through floor to cloud-level ceiling windows. Very insane stuff, and not at all what I would expect to stumble upon in the midst of a restaurant-crushing recession.
We wish them very well.