When Mark Taylor, owner and sommelier at Cru (1459 West Broadway), decided to open another restaurant, he knew exactly the type of neighbourhood joint it would be: simple, casual Mediterranean food and wine served in the South Granville area he’s resided in for the past nine years.
Siena (1485 12th Avenue), which opened in February, is just that—a “once-a-week restaurant,” Taylor told the Straight by phone. “The idea is affordability.”
Inspired by his travels to the Mediterranean, Taylor said that he initially wanted to open an Italian restaurant, but then decided to include French and Spanish offerings on the menu and wine list as well.
“It expands our options. I come at most things with a wine perspective,” Taylor said.
The menu, which has a rustic, mostly Italian feel, was a collaborative effort between long-time Cru executive chef Alana Peckham and sous chef Tim Evans, who will be leading the kitchen at Siena. Highlights include housemade pastas ($15 to $18), such as braised lamb ravioli and Qualicum Bay scallop risotto; small plates ($6 to $12), such as grilled squid with chorizo stuffing; and entrée-sized proteins ($21), such as grilled sirloin. The restaurant will also have a list of daily chalkboard specials that includes a fish of the day at market price.
Similar to Cru, Taylor will be in charge of the wine selection at Siena, which he says will be limited to a constantly rotating 20 to 30 bottles from the Mediterranean region.
“It’ll be mostly wines that aren’t available through the regular B.C. liquor stores as I find them,” Taylor said.
The 42-seat restaurant is currently open from 5 p.m. nightly. The dinner menu is available until 10 p.m., and the bar menu is offered until 11 p.m. Taylor is looking to add a brunch menu, which will continue Siena’s Mediterranean theme, for weekends and holidays shortly.
“I imaging a good savoury tarte, a frittata… No eggs over-easy or bacon, but then again, nothing too exotic and weird—just comfort food,” he said. “The neighbourhood has a couple of options, but I think there’s lots of room for brunch here.
You can follow Michelle da Silva on Twitter at twitter.com/michdas.