Tuesday, June 26, 2012
A good pal of mine, TMc, had to miss my birthday celebration at the track, but wanted to take me out for a nice dinner to make sure that we celebrated properly. I was only too happy to oblige!!! Love birthday dinners. She sent me a few options in the South Granville area and I chose the new kid on the block, Siena, located in the old Cru location on 12th, just east of Granville. Former Cru restauranteur, Mark Taylor, has transformed the space in a warm, casual, sunny, spacious- yet intimate room- with large windows, serving up Spanish and Italian. There is a modern rustic neighbourhood feel.
The menu features Italian and Mediterranean selections and the style is simple. They offer a daily and formal menu and a chalkboard on the back wall is full of daily specials. They offer pasta, bruschetta, cheese and salumi boards, proteins, and appetizers. Prices are fairly reasonable with some dishes pushing the $20 mark.
I LOVED the peek-a-boo window to the kitchen carved out of the specials chalkboard. I'm a self-admitted creepy kitchen perv and love watching food prep, so I only wish it was a bigger window. We shared two appetizers and one main.
Sauteed Kale with fried garlic, chili, lemon, olive oil ($5). Kale is just so hot right now. I fell in love with this leafy green, the first time I baked it crispy with olive oil and seasonings to make kale chips. Now it's a celebrated "superfood" and trendy. This was nice and flavourful but a wee bit soggy. T Mc found it a bit too spicy.
Polenta Fries with basil almond aioli ($5). Our server's eyes widened when we ordered these. "These are crowd pleasers," she said. I love the polenta fries sooo much at Cascade, and I wasn't sure how these would stand up, but I loved these too. On the outside, they were dusted with cornmeal and fried golden brown. The creamy polenta inside was soft and hot, smooth and rich. The sauce was like a pesto- aioli dip hybrid and a nice companion to the "Po Fries."
The Daily Special Risotto- Salmon, Shrimp, Spinach, Lemon, Basil Oil ($18). I am not a risotto specialist. I don't cook it at home and I rarely order it at restaurants. I did enjoy this dish. The seafood was fresh and flavourful and I could really taste every element of the dish from the fresh, wilty spinach, the pop of citrus and the herbacious basil flavour. All of the flavours worked well and it was a nice, creamy, slightly al dente texture.
Service was fantastic and friendly, from our warm welcome at the door, attentive short wait at the bar for our table, and a delightful server who was able to accurately describe Manchego cheese to TMc (I tried but had a hard time articulating). Every dish we saw come out looked beautiful. All in all, a really nice dining experience.