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Sula Pans Siena; L2O Shows Playful Side; More

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Siena Tavern
Siena Tavern
Photo: Barry Brecheisen

Siena Tavern is more bark than bite and "isn't really a place to take Italian food seriously," according to Mike Sula. Pastas suffer the most as spaghetti carbonara is prepared with an "abundance of cream" that glues the noodles together "like a wet knot," and butternut squash tortellaci arrives "wallowing in a tepid cream sauce glistening with droplets of unemulsified butter." There's also "wet and spongy" bufala; pizzas with "undistinguished" crusts "burdened" by too many types of cured meats; and gelati "so oversweetened and saturated with fat they could frost a cake." A few dishes provide a brief respite such as "supertender" braised veal ossobuco with faro risotto; a simple baby kale Caesar; and a cannolo with "creamy, cool," dark-chocolate-laced ricotta filling. In the end though, it's best to leave Siena Tavern to the tourists. [Reader]

L2O is showing a more playful side under Matthew Kirkley and Phil Vettel loves it. The amuse bouche arrives on a home-décor piece that resembles a "tangle of branches with pillar-candle platforms" that showcase carved balls of fruit and vegetable filled with "savory surprises" like salmon mousse inside cucumber globes, foie gras-filled cantaloupe and green melon balls containing oysters. A "lighthearted" crab chip is accompanied by a PBR; tuna tartare is turned into "eye-popping art" by encasing it in avocado and topping it with osetra caviar; and foie-stuffed quail with sunchoke and smoked-cherry puree and a "23-flavor" Dr. Pepper-esque gastrique is "sheer decadence." Desserts are "gentle, restrained" meal-enders—a Champagne granita topped with whipped Meyer lemon cream is an "effective preamble," finished by a "lovely" deconstructed parfait of lime mousse, dehydrated tarragon meringue and cara cara orange sorbet. For Vettel, it's a meal worthy of four stars. [Tribune]

Hofbrauhaus brings the authentic German experience to Rosemont. Deborah Pankey starts with the Jumbo Complete, a giant pretzel with "obazda" cheese and two mustards that's worth fighting over, before moving onto the pork schnitzel that's cooked "perfectly crisp and golden." A meal of three "Vienna style frankfurters" arrives in a bowl of steamy water so they stay warm while a "pleasantly vinegared" cucumber salad is among the side dish offerings. For dessert, the Black Forest cake is a "bit of a letdown" with the lack of cherries but the vanilla ice cream with raspberries is a "surprise hit" that provides a "bright end to the meal." [Daily Herald]

Siena Tavern

51 West Kinzie Street, , IL 60654 (312) 595-1322 Visit Website