For special celebrations, deciding on which restaurant to book can be difficult, but if you want to eat the best food in Dorset, you book a table at Sienna. To prove it is the best; it has the only Michelin star in Dorset, also holds 3 AA rosettes and is listed in the Good Food Guide!!! So the perfect place to celebrate my birthday along with the first anniversary of West Dorset Foodie!!

Russell and Eléna first opened Sienna, Dorchester in 2003 and has been the Mecca for fine food ever since. Russell is also a bit of a celebrity here in Dorset; he has appeared on many TV shows, demonstrates at many foodie events, one of the Dorset Chefs, judge & mentor at the recent Bridport pop-up young chef competition and last but not least Russell is part of the Dorset twitterati @siennadorset (also a very fine fly fisherman).

After booking Eléna contacted us to check if anyone from the group had any food allergies, which was a really nice touch. At last Friday night arrived and along with our very good friends we headed to the restaurant. It was Eléna who warmly welcomed us in on the first very cold northerly blast of the winter. Sienna must be the smallest restaurant I know, with a maximum of only 15 covers; it must also be one of the smallest Michelin star kitchens…!

We were the second table in and as we were just settling in reading the menus, came the first surprise of the evening Russell & Eléna kindly opened a rather nice bottle of champagne to help celebrate my birthday – wonderfully generous and wonderfully accepted; thanks guys.

We all decided on the taster menu, which allows you to sample all of Russell’s cooking skills in a grand total of 7 courses for a very reasonable £60.00 a head. First out were the canapés, wonderful little tarts packed with smoky bacon lardons and soft savoury custard. Extremely well matured goats cheese balls and cod coujons dipped in aioli, that was so smooth and light.

Jerusalem artichoke veloute, caramelised ceps and artichoke crisps: Presentation was of course absolutely amazing and the flavours of artichokes and ceps in this veloute, really set the bar for the rest of the meal. The little artichoke crisps were so, so delicate and it makes you wonder why Jerusalem artichokes are such a very under used vegetable, because they are so easy to grow and taste amazing!

San Daniele ham with fresh & pickled pear, rocket and olive oil cream: It is dishes like these which look oh so simple, but to get just the right balance of flavours is oh so difficult. Of course Russell had it bang on and the little balls of pickled pear had the perfect amount of twang for the dish. This was also my first tasting of San Daniele ham and it has far better flavours than its more famous neighbour Parma Ham.

Walnut gnocchi with cavalo nero and venison ragout: This one I was really looking forward to and would go well with our bottle of Malbec. Cavalo nero is a wonderful textured kale/cabbage with great strong flavour to go with the venison ragout. The gnocchi was light with a great crunch of walnuts and was my personal favourite dish of the night.

Roast line-caught Westcountry pollack with parsley root puree and red wine braised onions: The crispy skinned pollack was on top of wilted spinach. Now wilted spinach is easy, just throw in a pan and it wilts, to produce wilted spinach that tastes as good as this takes great skill and is why Russell has his Michelin star!

Breast of Goosnargh duck, creamed leak & mushroom crumble, caramelised quince, thyme jus: Now this is how to serve a duck breast, with crispy skin and accompaniments that go so well with the rich duck flavours. The leek crumble was bursting with different flavours and the leek & mushroom ‘filling’ wasn’t overbearingly creamy. The caramelised quince was an interesting flavour of between pear & apple, which added crunch and sweetness. This was the three to one favourite dish of the night!

Keen’s cheddar with fig, port & golden raisin compression, sea salt crackers: Very good Somerset cheddar with a sweet sticky compression was a good way to drift away from the savoury dishes into the dessert.

Golden syrup & mascarpone mousse with gingerbread & lemon: Next was dessert the ladies favourite and they weren’t disappointed with this amazing looking dish. Mine was extra special with chocolate Happy Birthday wishes! There were lemons, moist ginger bread, sticky syrups, crunchy crumbs and crispy meringue sticks!

We ended the meal with coffees and homemade chocolates, lemon tarts and flapjacks, these went before I had chance to get a photograph!! We couldn’t fault the meal and with a full restaurant there was a very good warm atmosphere. So huge congratulations to Russell & Eléna and the rest of the team for creating such a wonderful restaurant here in West Dorset – book a table now, you won’t be disappointed! (I spotted slow cooked pork belly and scallops on the À la carte menu – bet that’s good!!)

Sienna Restaurant
36 High West Street

t: 01305 250022

Review Disclosures
Invited by PR company? No
Guest of chef/restaurant/owner? No
Restaurant/outlet knew ahead we were bloggers? Yes
Was the meal complimentary from the restaurant? No
Any complimentary items provided by restaurant/outlet? Yes Champagne as my birthday treat – FAB
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