It’s always fun to splurge on a fancy meal every once in a while. Given our hectic schedules and two young kids, we usually save our fine dining experiences for special occasions. For our recent wedding anniversary we decided to try Siena Tuscan Steakhouse.
Siena is located inside the swanky Ambassador Hotel at Broadway and Douglas and is one of the premier fine dining restaurants in town. The restaurant is located on the ground level and features large windows that give diners a good view of downtown streets. I found the natural light more welcoming than other high-end places that seem to favor windowless dimly lit interiors. A large walk-in wine cooler splits the dining room into two sections that contain widely spaced tables and booths that help to add a certain level of privacy.
True to its title Siena’s menu is certainly Italian inspired, but they offer much more than just steaks and pasta. Appetizer options include Crispy Artichokes, goat cheese fondue, and BBQ Octopus. All the pasta is made in-house and dishes range from short rib ragu to spring rabbit cavatelli. Siena keeps their steak choices succinct with just 5 different cuts offered. They are served in minimalist fashion with just salt, pepper, and olive oil. There is also a decent selection of seafood and vegetarian options. Siena sources many of their ingredients locally, including Creekstone beef.
While trying to decide food selections we started off with a couple of fancy cocktails. I went with a Moscow Mule, an old school drink that has enjoyed a recent resurgence. The vodka and ginger beer drink was quite refreshing on a warm evening. After some deliberation, we both decided to try a 5 course chef’s choice tasting menu.
Our meal started off with tomato and mozzarella nestled on a bed of arugula and thinly sliced onions. The tomatoes were lightly salted and nothing like 99% of the tasteless versions you find at most restaurants. I could have eaten 4 more courses of those tomatoes and been reasonably happy. Our second course was the most adventurous plate of the evening and featured BBQ octopus with a potato and chickpea salad. I have eaten many different foods that were barbecued, but never octopus. After our experience at Siena I may have to seek out some octopus to barbecue myself. While the outside was crispy, the inside was delicate and tender, unlike the chewy junk I have had in the past. A BBQ rub added subtle spice to the seafood and the potato and chickpea salad provided creaminess to the dish. The next course was a large homemade ravioli stuffed with diced mushrooms and braised short rib. You could certainly taste the difference of the
homemade ravioli as it was much more tender than mass produced varieties. The wine marinated beef short rib filling had a butteresque consistency that left me wanting a whole bowl filled with the rich meat. The final savory dish was several medallions of beef tenderloin nestled on a bed of mascarpone and potato puree. This was easily the best dish of the night. The beef was expertly cooked and seasoned with a crispy exterior crust, lovely medium rare doneness, and just a light shake of salt and pepper. The meat itself was of high quality and extremely
tender. The potato puree was decadent and delightful. It was so smooth and rich that I wondered if perhaps there was more mascarpone than potatoes in the mixture. I have only had better mashed potatoes in one place, Paris. The last course of the night was a giant slab of chocolate terrine. It was another rich dish that consisted of an almost fudge-like piece of dense dark chocolate. Apparently they gave us regular sized servings instead of the smaller tasting menu size, but we did not let a single bite go to waste.
I was very impressed with the quality and uniqueness of the food we had at Siena. It was one of the more enjoyable fine dining experiences I have ever had and certainly the best in Wichita. The prices are certainly on the higher end for Wichita, our tasting menu was $75 a person, but you do get expertly prepared food. If you are looking for a special occasion meal, Siena should be at the top of your list.