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Siena Tavern’s Brunch Peaks with Monkey Bread

The rest of the menu may not delight you as much as this sticky concoction does.

Monkey bread at Siena Tavern   Photo: Carly Boers

The shtick: Come weekends, Top Chef Fabio Viviani’s rustic-yet-sceney Italian spot goes sunny-side up.

The vibe: Weekday lunch brings in the suits; nighttime attracts a parade of blinged-out revelers; brunch, well… pulls in a sparse crowd that defies categorization. During our Saturday late-morning outing, solo dudes sat watching college football at the bar, couples cozied up in booths, and a group of 30-something ladies toasted an engagement in uncharacteristically low-key fashion. The music needed to be turned up or the coffee needed to flow faster, because the normally buzzing space seriously lacked energy. 6 out of 10

The food: Indecisive brunchers beware: this menu will stress you to the max. Not only is there a lengthy list of morning fare (both savory and sweet), but the entire lunch menu (antipasti, soup, salad, pasta, pizza, sandwiches) is on offer, too. We couldn’t handle the 50-plus options, so we pretended the lunch stuff didn’t exist and focused our energy on eggs and such.

Our server directed us to monkey bread ($14) as a shareable prelude to the meal. Who were we to argue with ordering a glorified cinnamon roll: soft, warm, bathed in caramel and hazelnut cream sauce, and finished with whipped cream and candied hazelnuts? (We may or may not have ordered a second.)

Sadly, this ended up being the highlight. With house-cured pancetta and cheddar filling, somehow none of the flavors shone in the rubbery bacon omelet ($16). And while creativity points are due for the avocado toast ($14) preparation (heirloom tomato, prosciutto, shaved watermelon radish, and poached eggs), it lacked the citrusy punch and chunky texture of a good specimen. Instead, it tasted as if they’d smeared so-so guacamole on bread. 7 out of 10

The drinks: A handful of creative cold-pressed juices is an unexpected bonus, and our kale-pear-celery-lime concoction ($8) was excellent. But you’re probably in the market for a cocktail, and the mimosa ($10) is a perfectly passable, if unremarkable, take. 7 out of 10

The service: Professional and unobtrusive. No complaints. 9 out of 10

Overall: If you’ve come seeking outstanding egg dishes, you’ll leave disappointed. But if it’s Viviani’s tried and true pastas and pizzas you’re craving—minus the nighttime hoopla—this is the time to get ‘em. 7 out of 10

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