REVIEW: Circo, Albert Dock

What do caged puppets, a stuffed Polar bear and enough clowns to give P.T Barnum a run for his money have in common? Here’s a clue- it’s a restaurant with a circus theme running right through it…the one and only Circo! Holly Plant reviews.


As a business, Circo was established on the bustling Albert Dock way back in 2007, so, what makes this reviewer keen to revisit an ‘old friend’? Well firstly, I wanted to see how things have changed over the last 6 years since it opened and secondly, I’ve heard exciting things are on the cards with this unique bar/restaurant/circus/freakshow.

Keen to set itself apart from the successful bar ‘side’ of the business and develop its own solid reputation, Circo has seen many changes over the years, but one thing remains the same. A unique atmosphere, deliciously odd interior, unisex toilets and an equally eclectic menu.

We started with some delicious homemade foccacia bread served with pesto, chilli oil, olive oil and a gloriously syrupy balsamic vinegar. The bread was light and cakey at the same time- delicate and fragrant with fresh rosemary adding a floral hint to it.

Next came the ribs. Not the kind of food you order on a first date….luckily I’m a) Not bothered about getting food all over myself and b) Happily married- and a good job too! These rich, tangy pork ribs offered a piquant, smokey taste to the palate. A good-sized portion to share and delicious enough to ensue an argument over the last morsels.

By this point, the combination of bread, ribs and wine had caused some sort of swelling in my belly (I think it’s called being full) But nevertheless, I bravely continued my mission to expand my waistline. I chose the beer battered Haddock fillet with mushy peas, homemade Tartar sauce and chunky chips. A gastro-pub classic, quickly snubbed, but easily ballsed up…not this time.

The piece of fish was slightly thinner than I’d anticipated (which was kind of a relief) it also meant that it was a lot crisper, which is always a good thing in my eyes. The mushy peas were nice and ‘traditional’ in that, they still had texture to them, unlike the baby food they serve in some establishments. However, I must admit, the Tartar sauce was far too acidic for me, so I avoided that condiment for the rest of my meal.

My only criticisms for this visit would be the menu, it’s far too large. Circo does Italian well, it also does Barbecue well. It needs to decide which ‘mask’ to put on, if we’re sticking with the circus theme that is. It has proven that not only can it survive the austerity of the ‘Korova Corp’ curse, but it can also still delight, entice and entertain people with its fascinating character.

The service is relaxed and polite. Nothing is too much trouble for the staff. Whilst I commend them on surviving bleak times, I also want to give them a little ‘slap’ on the wrist for using pre-prepared foods. Your chefs have obviously got talent- condense your menu, sack off the bought in Tartar sauce and Pesto and make your own!

Circo is still offering 25% Off until the end of January, so it’s worth re-visiting this fun venue. They’ve also got a trapeze artist booked for the restaurant this weekend, which is bound to draw in the crowds, not sure if I’d want to be on that table underneath the net though!


Review by Holly Plant
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