#252: Sienna

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Last Thursday I was joined by some family members for dinner at the new Sienna restaurant.  Sienna is located in the old Crush 29 spot on Eureka and Rocky Ridge.  This Roseville location is their second, with the original in El Dorado Hills.  Sienna is by the same people that brought us Land Ocean around the same time last year.

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I rolled in just before 6PM and the parking lot was packed.  I made one pass through the front lot and decided to just valet it (complimentary, + tip of course).  My family had found parking in the back, which I actually didn’t even realize existed.  They saw my car being parked as they walked around.  In front to both the left and right is a good amount of outdoor seating to enjoy drinks (maybe even some happy hour appetizers?  Not sure if they serve food out there) with dual fire pits on each side.

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I walked inside to put our name in incase there was a wait.  It seemed busy, but that was mostly the bar.  We were seated right away.  The bar, by the way, had seen some work in the remodel.  They removed the big round structure that hung from the ceiling and opened it up, which really helped make the place feel bigger and less cramped.  There was still a good amount of light outside and the big skylights in the center area of the restaurant (mostly the bar) made it nice and bright until the sunlight faded over the next half hour.  The nicely-bound menus almost feel like they give a nod to Crush 29 with a similar metal inset on the front, featuring the restaurant name punched into it.

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We were sat near the right dining “wing” in a booth that bordered the bar area and were soon greeted by our server, Jordan, who ran down a couple specials and let us go over drinks for a bit before he returned.  A bottle of Stellina di Note, a Pinot Grigo [$30] was ordered for my mom and grandma, my dad had a glass of Montevina Barbera [$8] and I ordered the Vanilla Old Fashioned (Vanilla bean infused Bulleit bourbon, vanilla simple syrup, luxardo cherry juice & cherry bark bitters)[$12].

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The wine came out first and the bottle was placed in a chiller at the edge of the table.  My old fashioned came soon after.  Jordan toasted a slice of orange peel briefly with a lighter before dropping it in the glass and then serving it to me.  It added a really awesome aroma.  The drink was chilled with a single, large sphere of ice.  A small black cherry on a pick garnished this drink alongside the peel.  I ended up giving that to my dad later and he loved it.  This drink was fantastic and had a perfect blend of vanilla and bourbon flavor to it.  It was also incredibly smooth.  Jordan said he hadn’t tried it yet but it was on his list.  I told him to move it to the top.

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Along with the drinks we received a plate with some tasty warm bread and soft butter.  We also had an appetizer, ordered at the same time as the drinks, which arrived just a minute after my old fashioned.  This was the Shrimp & Bay Scallops Ceviche (Tequila-lime sauce, fresh avocado, micro cilantro & house made tortilla chips)[$14].  This was very good.  It was a bit top-loaded with shrimp, scallops and avocado however.  Below the top layer it was filled in with a fair amount of lettuce.  We did find more bits of the best stuff down towards the bottom of the glass though.  The chips were warm and fresh.

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Our entrees arrived all together about 15 minutes after the ceviche.  My grandma had the Pepperoni & Sausage wood stone flatbread (housemate marinara, crimini mushrooms & sweet red onion)[$15].  I had a piece of this and it was tasty.  The bread was toasted just-so on the outside and bottom, leaving the middle nice and soft.  The toppings were well portioned and flavorful with a dusting of parmesan on top.

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My mom ordered the Pepper Steak Campanelle Pasta (sautéed tenderloin, crimini mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, parmesan cheese & brandy peppercorn sauce)[$20].  I had strongly considered this but went with another choice.  It was served in a rectangular dish, garnished with green onions and came with a couple slices of toasted bread.  I had a bite of the tenderloin and it was very nice.  The peppercorn sauce was front and center, but not to the point of masking the flavor of the beef.

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My dad got the Grilled Prime New York Steak (10oz sliced, garlic-parmesan whipped potatoes, sautéed green beans, sriracha butter & onion strings)[$35], medium-rare.  This was neatly plated with the asparagus perched atop the potatoes and topped with the onion strings.  The sliced steak rested up against this arrangement.  It was cooked nicely, with a little bit of a red center and lots of pink around that.  The piece of this that I tried was very good, nice and tender, but I think mine was even better.

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For my order I went with the Frilled Filet Mignon (boursin gratin potatoes, balsamic pancetta, brussels sprouts & asparagus)[$34], also medium-rare.  It was a thick cut and done perfectly.  Actually probably more on the rare side, which is fine with me.  Lots of red throughout.  This was fantastically tender and practically melted in your mouth.  The balsamic pancetta reduction was flavorful but did not in the slightest way cover up the filet mignon.  The veggies were really interesting in that they were not cooked to the point of being soft or mushy, but actually still had a significant raw crispness to them.  The brussels sprouts and asparagus were incredibly flavorful.  Part of this was due to thick, crispy bits of bacon mixed in.

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I thought that would do it for us, I was slightly full, but then I saw a shallow dish, what looked to be creme brûlée being delivered to another table.  I knew what I had to do.  We got the dessert menu, a mini-version of the dinner menu, and perused the options.  My parents decided to each get a port, the Warre’s “Otima” 10 Year Tawny [$8.50] and the Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port [$8].  Each of these were incredible.

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My Vanilla Bean Creme Brûlée (fresh berries & white chocolate shavings)[$9] took an unusually long amount of time.  As I was looking at my camera photos to get a sense of how long it had been and realizing we were coming up on 30 minutes, the manager herself delivered it just then and apologized for the wait and let us know that it would be on the house.  This was a nice finish to dinner.  It was a bit less dense of a custard than most, but had a good vanilla flavoring to it.

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Overall, despite the hiccup on timing for the dessert, I thought this was a great dinner.  Everyone very much enjoyed their food and Jordan did a solid job.  Ambiance was nice, but it did get a bit loud as the restaurant filled up.  The complimentary valet is a nice convenience.  When this space was vacant the parking situation was much better, but it’s probably going to be a challenge to find a spot in the front on the weekend evenings again.  If I remember correctly, Crush also offered valet.  I am definitely interested in coming back, especially to check out the happy hour offerings and sit on the patio out front.

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Website: http://www.siennarestaurants.com

The website has their menu, but I saw some differences between what was available when we visited, so here are some scans of the menu as it was for our dinner:

(Scanned) Dinner Menu (10/13/16): Click Here

(Scanned) Dessert Menu (10/13/16): Click Here

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#237: Land Ocean

I’ve wanted to check out Land Ocean since long before they arrived in Roseville.  This “New American Grill” originated in Folsom with location #1 on E. Bidwell St.  I drove by it many times at lunch but never made it out there for dinner.  Luckily, I waited long enough that they came to me!  Their new Roseville restaurant opened in the Galleria a few weeks ago.  They are located on the other side of the main entrance by Cheesecake Factory.  They have dueling patios now, and let me just say that Land Ocean’s is a lot nicer looking with their fire-topped walls.

I arrived with several family members for dinner at 5:30PM on Thursday.  The bar was hoppin’, and you could tell easily through the slatted divider between it and the Galleria’s interior.  Right behind the host’s podium was a window into the kitchen where chickens were roasting up by an open flame.

We decided the patio looked really nice so we opted to sit out there.  It ended up being far warmer than I expected next to the flame wall, but our server turned it down a bit to mitigate the heat.  This will be really nice in winter.  They also have numerous propane heaters attached to the pergola overhead so it should be very comfortable even on chilly evenings.

Our server got us started off with drinks as soon as we had settled into our seats.  I had an Alaskan Amber [$7] (the beer selection was a bit mundane but I suppose I can’t compare everything to Final Gravity, Porter’s House of Draft, Boneshaker Public House and Craft Beer Vault) and the rest shared a bottle of Stellina di Notte Pinot Grigio [$28].

We mulled over the idea of appetizers but instead decided to go straight for dinner. I was starving.  My La Bou soup and salad (check that out on Rancho Salads) from lunch was long gone.  A bit of bread and butter helped ease that hunger.  It was nice and super soft inside with a perfectly crunchy crust and soft butter.  We ordered everything up, and I added a side of Bacon & Jalapeño Mac & Cheese [$6.95], which our server offered to bring out first.  This came pretty quickly and was served on a plank of wood in a little cast iron dish.  Everyone had a bite and it went over very well for the most part.  I think the main weaknesses were lack of significant jalapeños in it and that the cheese was more of a sauce and less gooey/cheesy.  Otherwise it had good flavor and was a nice way to start off dinner.

Our main entrees were delivered around 10 minutes after the mac & cheese.  There was the Balsamic Filet Mignon Pasta (sautéed tenderloin, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, housemade pappardelle noodles & toasted garlic bread)[$19.95], the Wood Fire Rotisserie Chicken (all natural Mary’s chicken, yukon gold smashed potatoes & chicken jus)[$17.95] and the Spice Crusted Ahi Tuna (seared rare over sautéed spinach & garlic black rice, topped with Asian roasted corn salsa & avocado mango puree)[$23.95].  My toddler nephew had the Rotisserie Chicken Breast (with Land Ocean fries & sliced apples)[$8.95] which he picked at and kept him busy in-between other distractions.  The fries were fantastic by the way, I would come and have a burger just to enjoy these alongside it.

Everyone was really happy with their dishes.  Apparently the spice crusted ahi tuna was quite spicy.  To his credit, our server warned that it would be in advance.  The rotisserie chicken dish was massive and will easily make another meal or two at home.  My mom had planned on taking half of the balsamic filet mignon pasta home but loved it so much that she ended up finishing the whole thing.

I had ordered the Macadamia Nut Crusted Sea Bass (coconut rice, sautéed broccolini & soy ginger glaze)[$26.95].  I’ve been trying to recapture the magic of my first sea bass, which I had on a Disney cruise forever ago, and I usually order it anytime I see one on the menu.  This one has seriously come the closest, but was’t quite there.  I recall that one literally melting in my mouth.  This one, while plenty tender, didn’t quite hit that level.  The coconut rice was incredibly delicious, which I admit I was not expecting because I’m usually not a huge fan of coconut.  It totally works in this though.  The broccolini had a nice bit of snap to it still.  Lastly, the glaze.  Oh man the glaze.  It was so much more potent than I anticipated, and it was fantastic.  By the end I had cleaned up pretty much every last drop with rice, sea bass, broccolini, it was all fair game.

This visit was pretty much everything I wanted it to be.  Our server was attentive, patient and professional yet with a good sense of humor.  A wine glass was dropped at one point behind us as a table was cleaned up and the staff was very careful and swept up the dozens of glass shards that had ended up under our table as non-disruptively as possible.  I thought that the ambiance was pretty excellent considering the patio is next to a busy mall entrance.  I suspect the glass barriers surrounding the fire feature help block a lot of sound from people coming and going.  At the end of dinner we were treated to a gorgeous sunset.  What a way to finish up the night.  My mom and I who have back to back birthdays coming up have already decided we will be coming back for the occasion.

Website: http://landoceanrestaurants.com

#212: ASR Restaurant & Lounge

Last night I wast joined by my friend Eric to check out ASR Restaurant & Lounge.  This spot opened about a month and a half ago directly in-between John’s Incredible Pizza Co. and the Automall in a building that once was home to a Mexican restaurant, long enough ago that I wasn’t even aware of it while it was there.  They are open from 11a everyday to midnight during the week and 2a on the weekends.  They are arguably one of the more higher-end places in Roseville and has a menu rivaling Ruth’s Chris in price.

We arrived via Uber just before 7:15PM.  Both our drivers there and back mentioned that they have been taking a lot of customers to and from ASR.  The parking lot was packed.  Eric stepped inside to put our name in as I took a couple photos outside.  I learned that we had a 30-45 minute wait and we took a walk around the bar area looking for a spot.  We didn’t find anything and ended up standing in a kind of square alcove with a narrow counter for drinks lining it.  While they were definitely busy, we were the only people without a place to sit, so it wasn’t hugely crowded.

We ordered a couple of drinks from the bar, a Firestone Walker IPA [$6] and a Knob Creek neat [$9].  The Knob Creek felt slightly high in price but once I saw the bartender give a good sized pour I was happy. We stood around for a few minutes and then asked if there was room on the patio to wait.  One of the hosts checked to see and then brought us out a moment later.  There was a fair amount of people in the center of the patio, at tables, eating.  As far as the cabanas and other misc seating around the outside though, those were mostly empty.  We were shown the one of the corners where we took a seat on a big semi-circle couch.  On our way through the patio we passed a water/fire feature in the center.  The patio is well isolated from the parking lot and street and you really don’t feel like you’re sitting just off of N. Sunrise.  It’s done pretty nicely.

We were greeted by one of the three patio-specific servers, Brandon.  He saw that we were good on drinks and showed us the two other servers should we need anything.  We hung out and chatted while we waited on a table.  At one point someone checked on us and asked if we wanted waters or bread.  We passed on the water and opted for bread only.  Apparently he forgot about it because it never came.  Another server got Eric a new beer not long before the host came out to collect us to be seated.  Total wait time was just over 45min.  We were lead back inside and upstairs to one of three tables set up, each with a balcony view.  The balcony goes all the way around and is lined with booths and low tables for drinks.  We were told that they swap out these three tables with more booth seating depending on the time of day.  Also upstairs is a second smaller bar and a banquet room for private parties/events.  It was a pretty nice spot for dinner where we could see most of the place from our little balcony.

We were greeted shortly by our server Rebeca.  Another server assisted her for a little bit early on, removing the extra place settings and glasses and getting a beer menu to us.  I had just finished my bourbon and ordered a Guinness, which we shortly found out they were out of, so I went with a Newcastle [$6].  This was brought out in the bottle with a frosty glass.  Soon we ordered a couple of appetizers, the Artisan Cheese Plate (Daily selection of artisanal cheese accompanied by fresh fruit compote, candied nuts, honey and grilled sourdough bread)[$12] and Duck Egg Roll (Tender duck confit, sweet onions, brie cheese and shitake mushrooms wrapped in a crisp egg roll wrapper and served with a port wine sauce)[$12].  These took a little over 10 minutes to come out.  Shortly before them came a plate with bread and butter.  The butter was very soft and molded into a flower.  The bread was also quite soft itself, with exception of the crust which had a nice crunch.  Pretty good for bread and butter.

The appetizers arrived together just after we finished with the bread.  The duck egg rolls were really good.  Crisp and flaky shell with lots of flavorful duck.  I didn’t notice the Brie but everything else was quite good and the port wine sauce was very rich.  This goes up there with my other favorite egg roll appetizer, the avocado egg rolls at BJs or Cheesecake Factory.

The cheese plate was pretty typical at first glance.  On it was some blue cheese and, we think, a Brie, along with the toasted bread, fruit, nuts and honey.  Whle the cheese was good, we decided that the introduction to this plate was missing a great deal.  Usually when you get a cheese plate you get a little explanation of everything that’s on the plate, often with some background on the cheeses – where they are from, what kind of milk was used, etc.  That didn’t happen here so we had to guess at the cheeses.  Clearly easy with the blue, and the Brie ended up being relatively obvious.  Later, Eric jumped back into discussing the cheese plate and his disappointment with it.  He felt (and I can’t really disagree) that two cheeses do not make a cheese plate.  You should have a variety to taste and compare, and that blue cheese and Brie felt far too ordinary for a place like ASR.  Having been to House of Oliver just last week where I ordered their cheese board, these criticisms felt very valid.  Oliver’s cheese board came with 4 very different cheeses and a proper introduction and, I would add, a much lower price.  While ASR’s menu notes that you can add cheeses at $5 a pop, to match Oliver’s board you’d be spending $22 vs Oliver’s $14.  This could use some improvement.

In-between appetizers and dinner the manager came by to introduce himself (I think his name might have been Will?), see how we were doing so far and we had a little laugh as he complimented our beer vs wine pairings with the cheese plate.  He took one of the empty app dishes and also got me a new Newcastle a bit later.  Sometime before the main course they attempted to dim the lights but had a lot of trouble, almost certainly because they were using compact fluorescents.  They would dim slightly and then go off entirely (CFLs, even the dimming type, don’t really dim that far before shutting off in my experience).  We had the lights go off and on a few times before they settled on off and then brought us a candle for a little bit of additional light.  It was pretty dark.  Photos get a little rough from this point on.  They actually offered to turn the lights back on for me but I didn’t want to bother anyone else and I figured I could take a reasonable decent photo using the candle.  Recommendation to ASR: ditch the CFLs and either go LED or tried-and-true incandescent.

We only ordered our entrees midway through our appetizers as we were in no hurry, so these were about 30 minutes after we had finished the apps.  Eric ordered the pork tenderloin (Wrapped in house made bacon and served with a port wine sauce and white cheddar fritters)[$26] and I the Beef Wellington (Tender Filet Mignon wrapped Wild Mushroom Duxelle White Truffle Butter and puff pastry served on a bed of Truffle Madeira Sauce)[$36].  I’ve never had beef Wellington but it sounded ridiculous and I felt like splurging.  At this point I have to refer mostly to my own photos since my night vision never really had a chance in the dark with a bright big screen just down below in the center of the downstairs area.  Eric must have enjoyed his because he was done and the plate was gone when I was only halfway into my own.

I only had a (somewhat sharp) butter knife to work with, however the beef Wellington was incredibly tender and was quite easy to cut through.  The puff pastry was flaky, crisp and light.  Underneath was the Duxelle which was intensely rich with the white truffle butter.  The filet mignon looked to be cooked on the rare side.  I ordered medium-rare, but I’m actually very happy with rare as well.  It was wonderfully flavorful, both on it’s own as well as with some of the truffle Madeira sauce.  Served with it was some super pureed carrots, so light they were almost like a foam, also some asparagus  and what I believe was a brussels sprout and I’m not sure about the last item.  The sprout was good as was the asparagus, which had a good snap to it.  Overall I was extremely happy with this dish and would definitely order it again.

After dinner the chef came out to introduce himself and see if we enjoyed everything.  With the check we were given a couple of chocolate dipped strawberries and some sort of nut-based sheet thingy.  I have no idea what the deal was with that but it was pretty good and the strawberry was great.

ASR was a good experience.  I rarely feel the desire to dine at nicer restaurants, but it does happen occasionally.  I would consider ASR next time.  The drinks/appetizers/hang-out lounge side of things is super chill and enjoyable and dinner was very good in a cool (albeit darker than I like) setting.  Our server and all the support staff were on their game, checking on us frequently but not too frequently.  They seemed to appear whenever we needed something or when they were delivering food.  All were very professional and friendly.  While there were a few things that could use some work, notably the cheese plate but also the lighting and the patio servers never bringing the promised bread, I felt that overall the positives vastly outweighed the negatives.  I’d recommend it.