Sienna Restaurant – Dorchester, Dorset.
Nestled between two shops on the Dorchester high street; Sienna’s exterior is nothing remarkable, in fact with its orange panelling and large glazed windows it looks more like an upmarket café than a Michelin starred restaurant.
Opened in the spring of 2003 by Russell and Elena Brown, Sienna offers fine dining in a simplistic setting. With questionable décor (notably the suede sofa seating which edges the perimeter) the restaurant has often been credited for its ‘total lack of pretence.’
Gourmet food and relaxation are two concepts that do not usually coincide. In fact, fine dining normally constitutes a couple of hours of being under strict human surveillance. Waiters watch your every move and an accidental wink or a slight twitch of the hand results in you suddenly being fawned upon. This is not the case in Sienna, the service is prompt but it is not invasive. The Browns have successfully managed to create an environment in which gourmet food and relaxation can work together.
Working purely on a reservation basis, Sienna covers just 15 a night, making the experience intimate though not intense. Intimacy also transcends into the kitchen where Russell and just one other chef meticulously prepare each dish. After changing to a culinary career at 27, Russell’s menu works on the concept of seasonality with ‘produce pushing the menu.’ The result is a variety of ever changing fresh flavours which currently include tender hand dived scallops and juicy St Eves strawberries.
From ethically reared veal to free range chicken; Sienna’s ingredients are all of the highest quality and the majority of them are locally sourced. With two courses for £34.50, dishes on the supper menu range from starters of pan-fried fillet of lemon sole, to Jurassic Coast rose veal, and mains of poached beef with a salted pine nut crust, to wild sea bass with crushed new potatoes.
For those of you wishing to indulge try the £41 menu; which, in addition to the mains, offers puddings that include strawberry shortcake with white chocolate mousse, strawberry sorbet and rhubarb puree and a ‘Selvatica’ chocolate tasting plate. The latter of which combines white chocolate bavarois, bitter chocolate tart, dark chocolate parfait and a milk chocolate shake and looks like it has come straight from Liliput – in size, but by no means in flavour. One sip of that miniature chocolate shake and all thoughts melt into oblivion as you float into culinary ecstasy…
If you are looking for exceptional taste, value for money and don’t want hordes of waiters buzzing around you then Sienna is definitely the place for you. A restaurant certainly well worth integrating into a weekend trip where one can visit both Hardy’s hometown and some of England’s finest countryside.
|36 High West Street,Dorchester,Dorset DT1 1UP01305 250022|