Sunday brunch: ah, the extravagance of drinking fizz before noon, lazily perusing the papers, pondering lofty ideas with dear loved ones over a plate of smoked salmon, then perhaps a leisurely stroll followed by a nap – what could be better?
Hang on a minute! Rewind! That was 9 years ago, before the arrival of a certain Miss Little Madam (8 and a half) and Young Sir (18 mo). Now, in our little household, “brunch” is invariably an inadvertent merging of meals arisen from the consequence of no food in the fridge / can’t be bothered to cook anything at the appropriate hour, leading to a chorus of “okay – let’s give up and go out” sort of thing.
So (pre-planned, dressed, ready and everything) – off we walked to the Family Sunday Brunch at the Cirqle restaurant in Ovolo Hotel. Located in the industrial mecca of the district of Wong Chuk Hang, the Ovolo Hotel sits nicely on the edge of all the warehouses, overlooking the football pitches and Ocean Park. The building, dark and mysterious upon first entry, leads to the hotel’s restaurant, Cirqle, which is in fact a bright, modern, slick and open rooftop haven.
Upon arrival we were greeted by the friendly and efficient team. We were quickly seated, and the team were attentive to the children in the group (4 kids ranging in age from 18mo – 9 years). We were provided with a high chair, somewhere to store the buggy, and kids’ cutlery. Best yet was the outdoor play area, located in a corner of the rooftop terrace. The safe little space is bright, colourful, with soft beanbags, little tables and stools, and plenty of books, toys, colouring pencils, and distractions.
Young Sir is not one for sitting down in a refined manner fitting for any eatery more upmarket than McDonalds. Chips/cake/bribes will only keep him quiet for 5 minutes, which is generally the window of time I have to wolf down my meal, you know, before the wriggling and moaning starts and the sighs and eye rolling of fellow diners ruins the whole experience. Mums of toddlers – I believe you understand.
So we sat down, easy breezy and chilled out, kids happily scamping about in the play area. The Cirqle team explained to us that there is a seafood station, egg corner and salad bar to help ourselves to as a first course. This was a super fresh selection of interesting salads and sides with a global flavour (quinoa, sweet potato, Greek, couscous, Caesar – all the usual favourites). Then, a good selection of chilled seafood including: salmon, langoustines, crab, lobster, and much more. The open kitchen and “egg corner” also cooks eggs to order, and our children loved choosing their own omelettes and watching it cooked up in front of them.
Outside sits the live BBQ area, with a selection of meat, fish, and vegetables cooked in small batches, which seems to ensure that it’s always fresh. On this menu there is plenty to choose from including: mussels, nutmeg chicken, chicken wings, beef tongue, lamb meatballs, baby aubergine, langoustine, pork neck, pork belly, sausages, shiitake mushrooms, baby corn… the list goes on and on! The BBQ area has a whole range of marinades, sauces and spice rubs to personalise the BBQ items.
The brunch at Cirqle also includes one main meal from an a la carte menu. I chose the pan-roasted Norway salmon with spiced kale and parsnip puree (the selection of kale was a clear health choice to offset the sangria). Some of the other dishes on the a la carte menu include: garganelli pasta with mushroom ragu, potato gnocchi with shaved pumpkin and pork ribs (I have it on good authority that these are uber tasty).
The main dishes were not huge, but entirely sufficient after the preceding few courses: fresh, well presented and very flavourful. Of course, in the name of research we polished everything off and followed it with the dessert platter: a selection of bite-sized gateau treats including my favourite, the chocolate fudge square.
Did I mention the Cirque brunch includes free-flow sangria? Choose from Prosecco, Apple Cider, Rose, Red or White (all yummy – again, all research!). There are virgin sangrias for the kiddos, as well as free-flow fresh juices.
All in all, this is a hidden gem. I am reluctant to tell people about it because it’s only a five-minute walk from my house, it has a play area (which means there is some outside chance of relaxation) and the food is really very good indeed. The attention to detail and interior design feels slick, modern and cool (especially for those mamas among us that miss those fashionable bars that we don’t get to go to so often anymore!). The addition of helpful staff, a varied menu, great views and a play area make this the ideal Sunday brunch spot.
The Cirqle brunch is $348 per adult + 10% surcharge, $248 per kid 4-12 years old, free for kids 0-3 years old. Open Sundays from 12-3:30pm.
Cirqle, 4/F Ovolo Southside, 64 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, 3460 8100, www.cirqle.hk