Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Siena

Monday is the best day to go to Siena simply because all wine is 50% off.  We took advantage and 2 hours later,  I found myself still swishing down our third bottle of wine for the night and having too good of a time. Our Gewurztraminer wine from Spain after discount was only $15.  It was crisp, easy to drink and pair with so we had to keep it coming all night long.  By 8 pm, I can honestly say that almost the entire restaurant was tanked.  Imagine being in a noisy restaurant, then transform that into a sports bar when a game is on.  That's how loud it was.  

Siena's spin on classic Italian fare and casual dining ambience actually reminds me of Corso 32 in Edmonton.  The daily specials are written in full details across a large chalk board visible from anywhere in the restaurant.  Our very social server was more than happy to elaborate to us in more detail about the courses.  The great thing about dining in a larger group is that you're free to order more and sample more variation of food.  

I've tried arancine, or deep-fried risotto rice balls, elsewhere, but I was never too impressed with the taste or texture.  However, I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh and crispy rice balls du jour at Siena that night.  Underneath the golden brown Panko crust was creamy risotto with leek, cheese, and Pernod. I could've easily devoured four balls by myself.  

 

Next up was three beautiful slices of basil wrapped Albacore tuna was fresh and firm.  It was like eating a really good piece of tuna sashimi with a juicy burst of sweetness from cherry tomatoes 
Burrata is my new "it" food.  It's a mix of mozzarella and cream, and one of the most wonderful types of cheese in the world (according to me).  The appearance and texture is very similar to a poached egg white.  Unlike other cheeses, it is very soft and light without any sharpness.  I think I first fell in love with burrata cheese at Cru restaurant.  Though the restaurant is forever gone, the same tasty burrata is reincarnated and lives on at Siena.  

  Naturally, when we saw 'the salad of the day' was with beet and burrata, it was almost heaven sent.  On a scale of satisfaction level it was probably about a 9.  I think truffle was missing there.  Overall, the combination of 2 great things made a great dish, especially with a drizzle of balsamic reduction we kept scraping every last drop from.  
We couldn't get enough of burrata, so we ordered another one on its own.  So simple, yet brilliant; fresh burrata cheese drizzled with virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, a side of rocket salad and grilled sourdough.  
Unlike the super dry fried polenta we had at Reflections, the 'polenta fries' at Siena turned out to be what I had hoped for.  Crispy outside without being overwhelmingly thick, a soft and tender inside.  It was like eating a healthy version of potato croquette.  The basil almond aioli was not only aromatic  but was a genius choice to go with the fries.  

And finally the mains.....

Unfortunately, the mains didn't wow us as much as the starters.  To summarize, the dishes were rustic using fresh and local ingredients.  However, we all felt the flavours in all the main dishes were a bit much too subtle.  

A classic Italian pasta dish and one of my favourites, Linguine con Vongole
The name 'Puttanesca spaghettini' actually cracks me up as it literally means "whore's style spaghettini".  The vibrant roasted tomato sauce with anchovies, olives and capers came together and made this fiery and tangy sauce.  
Fish of the day, halibut, with walnut, organic greens, heirloom tomatoes and limoncello vinagrette.  
Pasta of the day-tagliatelle with pulled pork, pork jus, and hazelnut. 
Mushroom tagliatelle with leeks, parmesan and very rich orloroso cream. 

It's clear I had much more to say about the starters than the entrees and I think that's what we will stick to next time.  The burrata....Mmm...  I must also mention that their desserts were quite exquisite.  We tried cherry with Chantilly cream tart and brownie with caramel sauce and chocolate ice cream.  They were both to die for.  

The price is extremely reasonable and the service was attentive despite the restaurant being overwhelmingly busy.  We will definitely come back, especially on Monday nights.  

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