Circus Cafe offers acrobatic fete of culinary bliss

It was time for a change: A bold exploration of the culinary opportunities outside of the Capital District; a foray into the uncharted wilderness of fine eating establishments; a transition from conventional to the unconventional. In other words: I was in Saratoga Springs and hungry, so what the hell, why not do a food review here.

While I will admit that it’s a little out of the way, the fact of the matter is that everyone’s here for about four years, so there’s no excuse for not getting off campus once in a while. Everyone should explore the surrounding towns, and Saratoga Springs just so happens to be packed with shops, art galleries, and more yuppies than you can shake a stick at. (Disclaimer: do not actually attempt to shake sticks at all the yuppies; it makes them nervous.)

Naturally, in such a high-class area, I had my choice of fine dining. Places like Maestro’s Restaurant and Paradisio II Ristoranti were tempting, but as soon as I saw Circus Cafe, I was sold. I mean, how often do you get to eat at a circus-themed restaurant? Not often enough.

At this point, you might be wondering; what exactly does a circus-themed restaurant entail? Well, thankfully, there wasn’t a clown in sight, and it was actually surprisingly classy inside. Everything was decorated with the golden years of circus in mind; heavy tasseled drapes, gilded mirrors, and sedate lighting gave the atmosphere a roaring ’20’s feel. They had a fairly extensive menu with an eclectic mixture of customary dishes, and some of them were more of the unorthodox and creative variety. For instance, you could order Homemade Country Meatloaf or Big Top Chicken Pot Pie for a more traditional meal, or you could be unusual and get the Chicken Trevi—sliced chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, prosciutto, and spinach.

The dinner entrees, while affordable for the area, tend to be on the expensive side for college students, ranging from $15-$22. As such, I would recommend timing your visit for the lunch menu. They have a huge selection of lunch sandwiches and salads that the locals swear by. It’s a little more standard fare than the dinner menu, but there are still a few offbeat dishes like the Tropical Shrimp Salad with pineapple, grated coconut, and cashews. The Circus Burger ($9) is their prizewinner, though. This lean and fresh burger sets a solid foundation for whatever theme you want, as you can chose between five different cheeses and half a dozen toppings. They also pile the rest of the plate with their spicy curly-cut Circus Fries.

I would also recommend their barbecue chicken wrap ($10). They use freshly grilled chicken, which is a refreshing and healthy switch, but that’s probably outweighed by the two to three slices of fresh bacon, cheese, and liberal application of their zesty barbecue sauce. It’s a savory and dynamic combination, and they use a cheese tortilla instead of the usual bland tortilla that detracts from most wraps. Their Sesame Ginger Tuna Filet sandwich ($11) is also an adventure. The tuna is massive block that they cook rare to preserve the tender texture. Also noteworthy are their sweet potato fries, which come out hot and fresh with the perfect amount of salt and a bowl of raspberry dipping sauce. I will admit that I was skeptical at first, but the lightly sweet flavor of the fries and the flavorful raspberry mixed marvelously.

While we did not get a chance to sample the desserts, their selection included Homemade Mango Gelato, Snickers Pie, and fresh cotton candy. There’s just something about the poetry of ordering Spicy Shrimp, Chicken Veracruz, and cotton candy in the same meal that makes me smile every time.