The shtick: A giant West Loop see-and-be-seen brunch spot.
The vibe: As scenes go, there are few places scene-ier than Bar Siena, the sprawling West Loop barstaurant brought to you by the folks at Siena Tavern (and No. 13 on our list of Best New Restaurants). It feels, in some ways, like a neighborhood statement of purpose—it’s boisterously trendy, the crowd is artfully dressed and tattooed, and it’s crowded no matter when you’re there. In the daytime, it’s a lot of couples and groups of couples (mostly late 20s into their 30s, wearing designer denim) sprawling over booths, stealing bites of each other’s caramelized waffles. You want the full brunch people-watching experience? You’ve got it. 8 out of 10
The drinks: A bilevel space, a massive bar area plus a second little one upstairs, and still somehow the drinks managed to disappoint—a Bloody Mary ($10) with the vodka barely mixed in, weak coffee. The mimosa ($9), gratefully, had a heavy hand with the prosecco, but we were expecting a bit more from a spot we’ve enjoyed boozing at after dark. 5 out of 10
The Food: No revelations here. The puff pancake ($12) comes in a cast-iron skillet, edges crisped and insides fluffy, ready to be drowned in zingy lemon whipped ricotta, a welcome twist on the basic buttermilk flapjack stack. The bombo breakfast sandwich ($13) is less successful, its bombolone bun (an Italian doughnut) bland and doughy, its eggs crying out for salt. You’re better off experiencing the spot’s bombolone obsession by stopping off at their outdoor Bombo Bar walk-up window after brunch for a doughnut filled with the sugar rush of your choice (maple buttercream!) and eating at a picnic table as its filling oozes out—an inexpensive pleasure the West Loop could use more of. 6.5 out of 10
The service: Not the warmest welcome we’ve had—our server stared blankly when a mix-up happened with our drink orders and we attempted to explain it, and subsequent interactions were occasional and terse. 4 out of 10
Overall: If you’re going here, you’re going for the scene, the buzz, which this place bountifully delivers. Outside of that, though, you might leave a bit disappointed. 6 out of 10
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