Siena boasts a menu featuring Italian cuisine with a hint of the flavours of Spain and the South of France.
I and my family and friends had been to Siena several times in the past, and had always had a good experience, but this time was different. Among 5 dishes ordered, 3 were substandard, with 2 of the 3 being outright rejects. The leek and potato soup was incredibly spicy, even for my wife who loves spicy food, and was only lukewarm when served. It was simply unacceptable. The pan-seared Arctic Char was like seared ahi tuna - completely raw inside, with only the outside slightly seared. When we questioned the server, we were told that it was supposed to be medium rare, and even she admitted that what we got was too raw. She offered to replace it. The replacement ended up being well done, but by then, we had tired of complaining. At least it wasn't raw. The risotto was soft and mushy, like a paste, as far from al dente as you can possibly imagine, but at least the flavor was fine, so we did not reject it. The only acceptable dishes were the two salads (one being the replacement for the soup), something that did not require any cooking, and the chocolate cake dessert. However, at $12, my arugula salad was very small in portion and very simple in composition. It did not seem good value for money. The same can be said for the salad my wife got as a replacement for the soup. The restaurant apologized (but only at the end, upon presentation of the bill), saying that the chef had put way too much pepper into the soup (how is that much overage possible?) and gave us a 15% discount to the overall bill.
Thinking back, the previous few times when we had good experiences, the restaurant was quite empty, whereas, on this most recent visit, it was completely packed due to its being the pre-Christmas season. Perhaps the kitchen could not cope with such a volume of business?
Went on a weeknight and restaurant was half full. I like the many specials on the chalkboard to compliment the menu. Tried most of the specials including daily brushetta of smoked duck - just ok not much duck, fried risotto balls - very good, cod cakes - nicely fried over pea shoots, burrata salad - again more pea shoots, leek and bacon ravoili - great texture and best dish, putanesca pasta - very good. The appies prices ranged from $7-$17 with the high being the burrata salad. The pastas were in the mid to high teents. Tried a few of their desserts including strawberry tart and fudge brownie, both were good. The service was very good with a small but good wine list of mostly Italian and Spanish wines. Overall good value. Place is quite casual which is fine for the area. Would come back.
We have been twice now, once on a quiet night and once on a very busy night (half off bottles of wine that night). The first time was excellent, food was so good and the service was just right. The second time-the service was excellent and the food was very good-but-the server did not ask about allergies and one in our party forgot to mention it. So, when the food was arriving at the table we discovered that the shellfish dishes were prepared on the same surface, shared utensils and shared in the cooking process-so definitely a crossover contamination concern. So, the one meal (which was not seafood) had to go back as it was too risky to eat. Now, when the bill came-we were charged for the meal that went back so decided to take it home for the non-allergy diner (me of course :-))
The one suggestion I have is this: staff be sure to check about allergies, while it is the diners responsibility to remember to inquire about possible cross over, sometimes in lively social situations it gets missed-and when someone is ordering a meat/pasta dish they really truly don't expect it to be prepared on the same surface, same utensils and cooking liquid as shellfish. So, everyone be inquisitive and remember to ask, whether the diner or the staff.
Oh, and we were also offered several tastings of different wines in our hunt for a specific one-which was really a nice touch.
Overall, this is a nice South Granville addition.
My wife and I tried this spot for the first time on Saturday. Only open for a week and they were very busy. They don't take reservations but we got a great table by the window. The food was outstanding! Salad of grilled radicchio and pears, followed by some delicious Arancine and a filling White Bean and Hamhock soup. we both had pasta as the server told us they are hand-made in house. My wife enjoyed a Chevre-stuffed Ravioli with pesto and I devoured a Braised Lamb Agnolotti. Tremendous! We are returning this week for the pasta again but I'm looking forward to trying more from this kitchen. Note: Very reasonable wine prices. We were very well looked after by our server. For only being open one week, it looks like these folks know what they're doing. Bravo.
Just been to Siena last night.
This is a restaurant that has apparently opened for just a week. Considering the fact that this restaurant is still so new, I was happy with the quality of the food. Service was amazing, our server could not be any more attentive.
Food: we've had the arancini (risotto was very flavorful), free range chicken breast (tasty but not exactly chicken breast...more like chicken legs with back attached), polenta fries (different, but not exactly my thing), and chicken risotto. The risotto with chicken, mascarpone, basil, lemon was the biggest disappointment as the amount of lemon was very overpowering (probably had too much in there?) and the risotto was sour and very runny. The runny texture caught me off guard. It's also not as flavorful as I wanted it to be (just kind of like rice in cream with salt). If it'd had mushroom or an old cheese in the risotto it can be more flavorful IMO.
Having said that, this restaurant is only a week old...and everything else was really good esp the arancini. So I don't think I can complain too much and should give them time!
Besides, entrees at ~ $20 in South Granville...can't really beat that!
All in all a solid effort already. I'll be back to see if their risotto gets any better once this becomes a well oiled machine.
We all write about the food. We all write about the service. We all write about the ambiance. Restaurants all hit or miss on some of these...to varying degrees. The hits or misses are read and diners develop their views. These are the basics.
My recent dinner at Siena was excellent. Food, Service, Ambiance were all above average. Is that enough?
My concern for Siena would be the lack of an all-encompassing eye of engagement. The two servers on duty were capable and high in professional demeanor and skill; however, a lack of 'ownership' of the night and a lack of creativity was evident.
Diners and people want more. Diners and people want to laugh. Diners and people want to be impressed. Diners and people want to be educated. Diners and people want to see what they normally do not see.
My challenge for the minds of Siena...and the minds of Cru :
1. Invade your restaurants with a tone of maximum utility...all-encompassing and engaging -- enable this tone to leak into your staff.
Example: Focus on the door and diners leaving to enable a quick eye to open the exit for guests...or wave and call bye if they have already left ( they smile )
2. Create opportunities to educate the diners of events and different dining periods ie. brunch menus -- these opportunities (chances) must be 'caught' and influenced through your engaged staff and you.
Example: Hand me a brunch menu on the way out and make a comment about the decadent pancakes! A new sign on the door introduced brunch service but no creative (and constant) follow-thrus.
3. Create smiles and laughter among your staff - a focus on YES and a focus on positivity and possibility.
Example: Present a late-to-work staff member with a cappucino or taste of the new by-the-glass red...staff will continue to be late sometimes - let's change the way that we respond?
Focus. Creativity. Constant. = A constant focus on creativity...don't miss the minute-to-minute chances.
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