> SlowTrav > Italy > Restaurants > Reviews > Tuscany Siena

Siena: Grotta di Santa Caterina di Bagoga

Via della Galluzza, 26 , Phone: 0577 282208

Reviewed by: Jeff Whiteaker from Slovakia, review #3843

When: 2011

The food here was pretty bad. How do places like this stay in business? I don't understand...

It was our last night in Siena, and we had several places we had yet to try on our list of new (to us) restaurants to check out. We settled on Grotta di Santa Caterina di Bagoga because the menu posted on the front window seemed promising, plus there were these Slow Food awards plastered on the front door, so it seemed like a safe bet.

When we walked in, we noticed the walls were covered with even more Slow Food and other culinary awards (many of them French) that the chef had won over the years. Looking back, the extremely stale bread we were given was a clear indicator that this was not going to be a fun night. Curiously, the Italian couple seated next to us got some different and much fresher looking bread (playing favorites with the locals?), which was another bad sign. And all the various awards posted everywhere should have been another warning sign, when you think about it.

First we had a pretty lackluster plate of crostini misti, which came with the common mix of a liver pate, fresh tomatoes, and some kind of vegetable/mushroom puree. The toasts for all three were totally soggy and mushy, which was obviously due to them having been made in advance and then allowed to just sit around for a while. In my quest on this trip to find the best pasta with porcini dish, I had pici with funghi porcini, which was way over salted, and there's no way in hell those porcinis were fresh. My wife had these insultingly bland and clearly unfresh raviolis with truffle sauce. I've had better raviolis from Safeway's refrigerated aisle, while the truffle flavor was so faint you kind of had to pretend it was there. We split a secondo of braised cinghiale (wild boar), which was pretty darn mediocre and bland.

The chef was clearly on autopilot and probably has been for years. And yet, he had the audacity to prance around the dining area decked out in his chef whites and silly chef hat, as if he was some culinary god. What a jerk! No wonder he feels like he needs to litter his walls with awards! How he got them is beyond me, but clearly he must think that's all he's got to justify his restaurant's continued existence. Oh well. I suppose every town has to have at least one lousy food experience, and this was definitely it. We trudged back to the hotel, feeling defeated, but also sad that we chose this pathetic excuse for a restaurant on our final night in Siena.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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