Pro: Chicago has so many amazing restaurants. Con: Chicago has so many amazing restaurants.
So, yes, I know we are so lucky to live in a city that is increasingly known as one of the great foodie destinations, with amazing chefs and new restaurants opening every week. It’s great. It also means that going out to dinner means planning ahead and nailing down reservations. But I don’t always know what the week will bring, how I’ll be feeling, etc. Cue to yesterday- exhausted from the week, I felt like a truck hit me and outside of making it to Flywheel, my greatest ambition was to finish season 3 of Mad Men on Netflix.
But Ryan, god bless him, knew I needed a night out and encouraged me to throw on the heels and throw my “but we don’t have reservations” attitude to the wind- we were going to have a great night and have a good meal. Siena Tavern opened several weeks ago and since the addition of any Italian restaurant in the neighborhood is good news in my book, we decided to swing in for a drink.
The space is amazing- warm, cozy, lively. In addition to a huge oval bar and dining room, there is a communal bar in front of a wood-fired oven and crudo station. We snagged a seat and after a glance at the menu and the delivery of squid ink pasta with lobster to the woman next to us, we knew our night was beginning and ending at Siena Tavern.
That squid ink pasta? Lightly tossed in a spicy lobster sauce and the lobster was perfection. Ryan deemed his Seafood Brodhetto as “one of the best” things he has ever eaten, the Kobe beef meatball was divine and the sides that accompanied our charcuterie plate were beyond. Excellent, non-fussy wine and cocktails. I ran into a friend who was eating some sort of dessert and had he not been with a colleague, I would have asked for a bite. The team preparing crudo and baking pizzas were so efficient, quick and clearly having a blast. We met the chef, Fabio from season 5 of Top Chef, and congratulated him on what is clearly a home run. Everyone was so excited about what they were eating and drinking that conversations with strangers went on and on, a little food love fest. The transition to more of a bar scene was seamless and we stayed for more drinks
than necessary, hanging out with our new strangers turned food friends.
Pro: Siena Tavern is perfectly reso-worthy and perfectly set up for popping in unannounced. Cons: I ate my leftovers the second I got home and have been craving that pasta all day long.
(Photo credits: top- me, bottom- eater.com)