A few weeks ago, I was invited to a private “Tastemaker’s Table” at Siena Tavern for myself and other food-loving bloggers, and I was elated to have been included. Unfortunately, I had to dip out after the third course for another engagement I was committed to, and I was not happy about it.
Chef Fabio Viviani is one of my all-time favorite chefs. I have followed his very successful career for years, starting with his first big stint, appearing on Top Chef. I even voted for him to be “Fan Favorite”, and he eventually won that title. He is funny, personable, creative, and above all, a fantastic chef.
I was so excited when my friend Morgan asked to go to brunch at Siena Tavern. I had only had drinks at Siena prior to this brunch, and it has forever been on my list of places to dine in Chicago. We made official plans to have brunch at Siena Tavern on a Saturday, and then head north to check out the Wells Street Art Festival happening that same weekend. When my calendar appointment sent me a reminder that Friday, I was super excited.
Morgan and I were going to be joined at brunch by her friend and colleague Stephanie, and Stephanie’s friend Jackie, who was in town from L.A. Once we all were arrived and seated, we promptly ordered cocktails. At the tasting event, there had been a delicious melon drink that everyone at the table had loved, and had drank at rapid speeds. I could not remember the name of it but thankfully our server knew exactly what I was referring to, and Morgan and I promptly ordered two.
The Summer Spritz 14 is made with Grey Goose le melon, aperol, grapefruit, lemon, prosecco, and it is served in a big ole’ wine glass. It was the perfect beverage for this particularly hot summer day, with temperatures in the high 90’s. The other girls ordered their drinks as well; Stephanie opted for a glass of rosé, while Jackie decided upon the Bloody Mary.
We were all starving, but the menu at Siena Tavern is extensive, and everything sounds wonderful. The brunch menu includes all of the pastas, pizzas, antipastis, salads, sandwiches, and crudo offered on the regular menu, so there are lots of choices. We all decided upon the regular brunch items, but there were still so many decisions to be made.
Jackie has food allergies, and is also vegan, gluten, and dairy-free. At most restaurants, this would appear to make things complicated, but it was no problem at Siena Tavern, and our server was kind and accommodating. We decided to start with the smoked salmon board for the table. It comes with all the works—tomato, red onion, capers, cucumber, chive cream cheese, crispy dough—the latter being the most delicious dough you could ever imagine.
Also to start with for the table, I went full “Bitch mode” and ordered the monkey bread as well. It came with a hazelnut cream, and candied walnuts. It was divine. Honestly, I cannot even begin to describe how good it was, but believe me, I will try. The bread was gooey and moist, easy to pull a part, and was completely covered in that delicious hazelnut cream. It is perfectly sweet and nutty, and trust me, it is good until the last bite.
For entrees, both Stephanie and Jackie opted for the avocado toast with heirloom tomato, crispy prosciutto, watermelon radishes, smoked paprika, and poached eggs. Jackie had hers without the egg or prosciutto, per her dietary restrictions. The toast looked beautiful—totally instagram-worthy—both of the girls enjoyed it. Stephanie claims it is her favorite dish at Siena and orders it time after time.
At my request, and the strong suggestion of our server, Morgan went with the Brioche tiramisu French toast made with espresso soaked Brioche, Marsala cream, seasonal berries, and finished with white chocolate. I was happy because I originally was between the monkey bread and the French toast to start with, but this dish definitely deserves to be a main entree. The dish was really good, and packed with flavor.
For my entree, I was torn but ultimately decided to go with the lobster hash. Although I was beginning to get full, I was really happy with my decision. The lobster hash came out just as I had envisioned; colorful, perfectly presented, and it was full of flavor. Also worth noting, the restaurant doesn’t skimp on lobster, in case you were wondering.
Overall, everything at Siena Tavern was wonderful—bold flavors, unique, exciting dishes and a great atmosphere. This is definitely an upscale restaurant but it doesn’t try hard to be. It is inviting, fun, and relaxed, the cocktails are really good and the food is even better.
The Bitches Say: A. Siena Tavern lives up to the hype. This is a a great spot for brunch in River North, and on a gorgeous summer day in Chicago, it was the perfect place to grab brunch with friends.
51 W Kinzie St.
Siena Tavern serves weekend Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.