When it gets cold in Chicago, I want to hibernate. This winter started out mild, but I knew it wouldn’t last. And as fate would have it, the weekend that Alexis and I were scheduled to shoot fitness fashion, the temperature dropped 20 degrees. It’s a harsh reality when the moment you step outside your apartment, your face numbs instantly and your teeth chatter.
So whether we wanted to or not, Alexis and I, and our photographer Tek, had to brave the cold in leggings, workout tops, and smiles making life in Chicago look effortless, despite its lake-effect cold fronts. I motivated myself; if I were going to brave the cold in workout gear, I most certainly deserved a nice and warm brunch afterward!
My friend Erik and I had planned to brunch after the shoot, and we decided to try Bar Siena in West Loop. West Loop is known for its amazing restaurants, and it was fairly close to where Alexis and I shot our photos, so it was a win-win.
Bar Siena, the sister restaurant to Siena Tavern in River North, is a casual take on Italian dining. Located in a huge two-story space in West Loop, the first floor is primarily the bar area, with some high-top tables and booths, while the second floor is a dining room, with individual tables and far less light than the first floor, creating an intimate and cozy feel.
Erik and I chose a high-top table on the first floor by the bar, because we enjoyed the sunlight. The retractable doors that face Randolph Street provide lots of light, and the details in the restaurant become more obviously, like the exposed brick walls and subway tiling. It feels rustic, open, and bright.
Once we were seated, Erik and I both needed hot coffee fast—I was still thawing out from the shoot and Erik had yet to have coffee that morning. Needless to say, the coffee couldn’t have come fast enough.
We were both pleased with the coffee once it came. It was delicious—smooth, strong, flavorful, and warm, which is exactly what I needed. The coffee came with an individual creamer and a variety of sweeteners, which I needed but Erik did not. How do people drink black coffee? I will never know.
Along with not having coffee, Erik hadn’t eaten anything before our 12:30 p.m. brunch time, so he was antsy to order food. He first scoped out the menu and opted for the Bombo Eggs Benedict. The eggs Benny was your classic dish with pork belly confit, watercress, and lemon black pepper Hollandaise over poached eggs. The two of us agreed that it was an incredibly good Eggs Benedict. Even Erik, whose go-to brunch dish is an eggs Benny, commented that this was “everything you hope from an eggs Benedict.” The pork belly was tender and juicy, and the eggs were perfectly poached—bravo, Bar Siena!
In contrast to Erik’s savory dish, I chose a sweet brunch option—the Puff Pancake. It arrived in a cast iron skillet, which surprised me. It was a fun presentation but had the added bonus of keeping the pancake warm throughout the meal, which I greatly appreciated since I am a slow eater.
The pancake had lemon-whipped ricotta churned into the batter, and it was life changing. There are a couple places where I have brunched that changed the way I think about food, and Bar Siena did that with this pancake. Now, every pancake I have must have whipped ricotta in it.
Heavenly is the only way to describe it! I drenched the pancake in syrup and ate most of it; Erik lent a helping hand, but pretty sure I could have cleared the plate myself. I also opted for strawberries instead of blueberries, due to an allergy and Bar Siena graciously obliged.
All in all, I loved Bar Siena! It was everything I needed on that cold Saturday, and wished I could have kept eating and drinking coffee.
The Bitches say: A. Bar Siena is a trendy West Loop restaurant that offers a variety of dishes for brunch and executes them perfectly! Even classic dishes, that most deem untouchable, Bar Siena finds a way to add a new spin on the dish and make it even better.
832 W Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Bar Siena serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.