Circo is one of my favourite bars in Bath – threaded through the rambling vaults under The Porter, it’s full of softly candlelit nooks and corners, making it perfect for whiling away an evening over cocktails and the sort of conversations where you spend hours setting the world to rights. The vibe is relaxed but elegant – comfy chairs and banquettes in soft leather, velvet ottomans in mossy greens and limpid blues, glass tables with old-gold frames, pale grey walls, a single sunshine yellow lily on each table. And the cocktails are, in a word, sublime.
Frankly, all that was missing for my perfect night out was good food – so I was delighted when White Heat Street Food started a regular weekend pop-up, with a short but tempting menu of funky fusion dishes. It didn’t take much drooling over Instagram before I was determined to pop in for a review.
|Circo is full of cosy corners|
We started, of course, with a cocktail – a Pinch of Peach (top image), which might just be my new favourite tipple. It’s the perfect balance between sweet and sharp, mixing gin, crème de peche, bitters and prosecco, and decorated with a luscious, bejewelled wedge of passionfruit. To soak it up, Gareth from White Heat brought us a board of tacos – gluten-free wraps made from scratch with masa flour, and topped with a choice of tender sashimi tuna and pink pickled ginger, or black-eyed beans with roasted tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream. I was expecting the tuna to be my favourite but actually the black-eyed beans were a real winner – absolutely packed with flavour, albeit not particularly easy to eat with any elegance… still, when something’s that tasty, I can put up with needing a few extra napkins! With the help of bar manager Julia, Gareth had also created a few shots to complement the food, so to wash down the tacos we had passionfruit juice with a splash of Tobasco – the gorgeous combination of sweet and spicy is one of my absolute favourites.
|Tacos with sashimi tuna|
Next, we tried crispy aubergine with a honey, cumin and yoghurt dip. The flavours of the dip were fabulous, but I must admit the aubergine itself didn’t taste of much – not really my favourite, this one. Fortunately, the next dish was brilliant, fluffy bao buns with peppery shitake and chestnut mushrooms and sriracha mayonnaise, bursting with flavour and gorgeous textures – and completely vegan as well.
Our final savoury dish was probably the stand-out of the evening for me. Sticky chicken wings with Vietnamese spices and sesame seeds were served on top of a salad of cucumber and watermelon, with the aromatic juices of the chicken forming a fabulous dressing. To accompany it, Julia brought us a shot of smoky rum with a dark, sticky-sweet cherry at the bottom. The gorgeous combination of sweet and savoury was mouth-watering and I could easily have eaten this dish all over again – I’ll definitely be going back for this one.
|Sticky Vietnamese Wings with Watermelon|
We finished, of course, with dessert – turmeric cake with coconut cream, kaffir lime and black pepper. To be completely honest, this isn’t the sort of dessert I would normally choose at all, but it was really good – the cake was light but moist, and the sharpness of the lime was beautifully balanced by the sweet coconut cream.
All the dishes are under £10, and are great for sharing and nibbling (although I wouldn’t blame you if you kept it all for yourself). There are some delicious dairy-free and gluten-free options too, which is always great to see. To be honest, I think the White Heat Street Food menu is the perfect match for Circo – both are elegant and yet laid-back, with a clever twist or two on the conventions you might normally expect. If you’re looking for a night out that’s sophisticated but chilled out too, this is the place. Check out Circo’s calendar of events for all sorts of interesting stuff, from live music and movie nights to fabulous themed parties, and remember White Heat is only there Thursday – Saturday, so if you want to try those wings (and believe me, you really want to try those wings) you need to plan accordingly.