Venturing out to a restaurant that is slightly off the beaten path often generates a feeling that because of the location, the food might not be as good as that of a more centrally located establishment. The implication is that because the restaurant is not situated in a bustling urban zone, the food can never really measure up to metropolitan restaurants. Since we hate to think we are prejudiced about anything, much less a restaurant, it was thrilling that a visit to Circa at Thompson’s Station completely blew up the entire beaten-path restaurant feeling. Here’s why Circa is worth the trip:
Circa may seem remote in its beautiful countryside setting, but, in truth, it is only about 20 minutes from Cool Springs. And with chef Lance Holcomb at the helm, it’s 20 minutes well spent. Holcomb, who has family roots in Mississippi and Louisiana, weaves Cajun and Creole flavors throughout the menu. Brunch beignets and Eggs Nola have full-on New Orleans personality, but other dishes — green chile wontons and the bratwurst burger with grilled sauerkraut on a pretzel bun — offer surprising flavors.
Circa is owned by Robynne Napier and Jason Ritzen. And while Ritzen is new to the restaurant business,his background is in real estate. Napier has worked in the industry for years.
“I worked with Randy Rayburn, who opened Sunset Grill, and with TomKats Catering, where I was involved with Saffire and Loveless. I live in Thompson’s Station, though, and when this building became available, it just felt right,” says Napier.
The building, originally a feed-and-seed store, is located across from the train station. The restaurant, with café dining on the front porch and large windows up front, is surrounded by more than 100 acres of land preserve, with rolling hills and a view of the landmark Thompson’s Station red caboose.
“We have customers who would rather drive 20 minutes and enjoy the feeling of getting away from it all than drive 20 minutes into Nashville and fight traffic and parking. And of course, with I-840, you can get here from Franklin or Leiper’s Fork really easily,” says Napier.
The view and venue aside, Circa is all about the food and drink. With locally sourced produce and a menu that changes based on seasonal availability, Holcomb uses his experience at eateries F. Scott’s and Saffire to create comfort food from around the world.
Duck breast with spicy fig barbecue sauce and grilled bok choy and house-smoked beef brisket with collard greens are standard offerings, in addition to nightly chef specials.
The night I visited Circa, I started with one of the menu’s featured craft cocktails. The Fleur d’Camille features Deep Eddy’s grapefruit vodka, St. Germaine and fresh-squeezed pink grapefruit juice. According to bar manager Camille Taylor, the drink is one of the most requested cocktails.
“We make our own syrups and our own sour mix,” says Taylor. “We are working on our fall cocktail menu now, and I am creating a drink with bourbon-soaked cherries.”
Circa also features Wine on Wednesday, with curated wine tastings and tapas for $25.
To pair with cocktails, I ordered an appetizer to share with my vegetarian husband. The hummus platter with homemade traditional and chipotle hummus with grilled pita and vegetables was fresh, delicious and could easily have been shared with four.
One grilled portobello sandwich and grilled grouper-over-corn pudding with tomato relish later, we couldn’t find room for the homemade bread pudding with rum sauce or vanilla creme brulée, which is probably just as well, because now we have a reason to return!
Circa is located at 1549 Thompson’s Station Road W. Learn more by calling 615-614-2079 or at their website.
Circa is open Tuesday through Friday from 4 pm to 9 pm, Saturday from 11 am to 10 pm, with brunch offered on Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm.
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