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Sienna...oh no

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I used to eat at Sienna a lot. Then I moved to S. Austin & started eating more at Vespaio. I joined a friend at Sienna last Tuesday during the rain before going to a movie at the Arbor.
What a shock!!!! The restaurant is still beautiful especially on a rainy day, but the food is another thing.

We had the salad with tomatoes & fresh(?) mozzarella. The tomatoes were pink & cold!!! The mozzarella had no creaminess to it at all. For the entree, we had 2 different pastas & both were awful. The pasta was tough & there was almost no sauce. Since our 2 courses were so bad, we skipped desert.

I have always had great service at Sienna, but not this time. The waiter bordered on rude. When we left, my partner accidently took the wrong credit card receipt. We had only walked a few steps when the waiter shouted at us accusing us of trying to get away with something. He said, "it didn't work this time." We just stood there kind of dumbfounded especially since we tipped 20% for awful food & questionable service (in college, I used to wait tables, so I always tip at least 20%).

I wish we had just sent our food back, but we were concerned about getting to the movie on time given the pouring rain.

Have others had this experience recently at Sienna? I kept thinking that I hope the next restaurant the goes in that space keeps the building intact & doesn't make it tacky. I can't imagaine that Siena is long for this world.

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Vespaio
1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

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  1. Yes, I had a horrible experience there a few months back as well... never returned. I'll copy and paste my review from Yelp:

    Austin, TX

    4/19/2010 I have been here to dine twice, but have actually eaten food from Siena multiple other times as I have a good friend who works there and brings me yummy things from the kitchen. The food here has always ranked from 4-5 stars, however... in the two times that I've dined there the service has been far below par.

    I wouldn't be so offended by the service if the food prices weren't ridiculously high, but if I'm going to pay around $20 for a small portion of pasta then I expect the waitstaff to at least acknowledge my existence. The first time I went for dinner early on a weeknight, and the restaurant was close to empty. My waiter was so-so during this experience - he was fairly attentive, however he had a very severe and very noticeable lack of confidence which made interaction with him awkward and uncomfortable. We had to ask him to repeat almost everything he said because he mumbled in whispers. I had sympathy for the guy and I still left him a good tip, but this struck me as odd for such a nice, fine dining restaurant. On this visit we had the carpaccio, the ravioli, the beef tenderloin, and the tagliatelle - all of which were delicious, especially the ravioli.

    On our second visit here, we arrived around 7:30pm on a Sunday night. There was no wait to get a table, and the restaurant seemed to be filled to about 1/4 to 1/2 capacity - not very busy by any means. We were seated in one of the balcony dining sections by a little window, which was nice. We sat there for about 5 minutes before being offered water - ok, not great but not horrible yet. Our waiter poured our water, took my boyfriend's order for an iced tea and then left without asking if we wanted to order any appetizers. It took 15 minutes for him to return with the iced tea and serve us some bread. I decided at that point that we should probably go ahead and order our appetizers + entrees then if we wanted to get them any time soon. We ordered the wild boar bruschetta, and ravioli for both of us. It took about 20 minutes for the appetizer to come out, which I don't blame the waiter for - but he didn't check up on us once during that entire time. Our drinks sat empty for quite a while. When the wild boar bruschetta finally came, it was pretty good - would've been perfect if the "grilled" bread didn't taste slightly of lighter fluid. I happily ate the dish regardless, partly because I was starving at this point after having been there for nearly 45 minutes without any substancial food. Our water glasses went empty again as we were enjoying our appetizer, but again our waiter did not come to check on us or re-fill our drinks until 20-25 minutes later when our ravioli entree came. The ravioli was delicious, but on a side note - they have half servings of this ravioli for $9, which comes with 4 raviolis. However, the full serving is $18 and comes with only 7 raviolis... questionable pricing. The only reason I have a slight issue with this is because for one, it just doesn't make sense, and also - one more ravioli would've actually made for a satisfying meal where I would've left feeling full. I am not a big girl (5'2" 115lbs) and it's not like it takes much to fill me up, but 7 raviolis just didn't do it. Back to the service, this is where it got really bad. Our waiter put our entrees on the table, and just walked away. He never came back to make sure the food was ok, or that we were having a good experience. It took us about 10 minutes to finish our entrees, and we were pretty much held hostage there for another 20-30 minutes until our waiter decided to come see if we wanted dessert. At this point it was already 15 minutes after closing time for the restaurant and there was no way we wanted to be kept there any longer so we declined the dessert. I pulled out my credit card and asked him to go ahead and run it even though I hadn't received a bill yet. I was terrified of the time it might take him to retreive my card if I waited for the bill. Thank god he promptly came back with my receipt, as my rear-end was starting to go numb after sitting there for almost two hours. Just to be clear, this waiter was servicing about 4 tables from what my boyfriend and I could see. He seemed to be doing just fine with his lower-level tables but I didn't exactly feel comfortable trying to flag him down from our second-level seating area. I can't remember the last time I didn't give a waiter AT LEAST a 20% tip, and it really pained me that I just couldn't bring myself to give him that. I just couldn't justify it. I wrote my complaints on the back of my receipt and handed it to the host on my way out. Sadly, if I ever eat that heavenly ravioli again then it's going to have to be a pick-up order.

    1 Reply
    1. re: TheSprinkler

      I was put off from going back to Siena by the above reviews, but my husband, who adores their boar ragout, talked me into giving them a try again.

      I'm so glad that he did. The service was competent, friendly, and not pushy at all. Other trips to Siena in the past have bordered on pushy, so I was pleased that this server knew what she was doing.

      We shared the figs and the asparagus as appetizers, husband had the ragout, and I had the rabbit risotto, and then we both had the beef tenderloin with gorgonzola.

      The figs were very dense and packed with flavor, the asparagus with crab was light and delicious. An interesting pairing.

      I tried a bite of the ragout, which the husband said was just they way he liked it. It was good, but I'm a risotto fiend. The risotto had just the right texture; not runny, not overcooked, and the flavor was delicate and tasty.

      We both enjoyed the tenderloins. They were both cooked to order. Mine medium rare, and husband's was medium. The sauce and the potatoes made the dish.

      The restaurant was busy and filled with happy people. No one seemed disturbed by their service, and everyone was friendly as we left.

      I'd recommend giving Siena another try before writing it off.