Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Restaurant Review: La Luna Bistro

Location: 320 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North
Phone: 03 9349 4888
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Overall Impression: 5/10
Adrian Richardson is the owner and chef at La Luna Bistro. No stranger to Australia’s culinary scene, his popularity has sprung in recent times from guest appearances in “Jamie’s Kitchen Australia” and regular appearances on the TV series “Ready Steady Cook” and “good chef bad chef’ (as a replacement for Gary Mehigan). La Luna Bistro has been thriving under this “Adrian Richardson” brand. La Luna Bistro is cosy and trendy at the same time. There is a clear “Gastropub” edge about the place. We are seated next to the window which extends right on to the footpath – so you have people walking literally centimetres away from where you dine albeit separated by a thin sturdy glass.
We ordered some cocktails and half a bottle of wine, which was served in a measuring carafe (for good measure – literally).

Tempura zucchini flowers stuffed with goats’ cheese and ricotta on a home-made chilli sauce
Cured kingfish, pomegranate & quinoa salad

The appeal of this dish was undone as there were segments of fish that tasted quite ‘fishy’. This was unfortunate given the beautiful flavour combinations for the parts that were not.
Pork cheek croquettes, artichoke aioli

The best croquettes that I have ever tasted have been from Movida. It was difficult not to compare these with those. These were inferior to that of Movida’s  as they lacked any complexity. Although pleasant, they were merely fried pork-filled pieces of dough.
Crackling wrapped roll of roast pork, slow cooked beans, cabbage & fennel

There were parts of the pork crackling that were absolutely divine. The rest (and dominating parts of the crackling) were sadly rubbery. The pork meat was ambrosially flavoured with aniseed and fennel but was slightly dry and overcooked.
Crisp duck legs, orange, cherry tomato, Danish feta & lentil salad

The duck was an absolute stand out. It was perfectly cooked – extremely tender on the inside with a beautifully crisp and flavoured skin. The portions were generous. The bed of lentils and feta that accompanied the duck were scrumptious. This was certainly a highlight of our meal at La Luna.
Fish of the Day, chickpeas, tomato, zucchini, olives, basil & mint

The fish was cooked beautifully - well-seasoned and fresh, it was delicious. My enjoyment of the dish was however, extirpated by the sad looking vegetables it was served with. Clearly an afterthought, it certainly raised questions about attempts to upsell side dishes by serving incomplete mains.
The wilted spinach side we ordered was incredibly mundane. Regrettably soggy, bland and literally soaked in water. Described as having chilli and garlic, we could taste neither to any real extent.

Ricotta Bombolones served with liquor ice cream

The bombolones left much to be desired. The word 'pedestrian' comes to mind - they were literally fried balls of dough drizzled with syrup. Fortunately, the liquor ice cream was delicious. It was creamy and had a lovely density to it.

Ice cream bomb alaska, caramel & blackberry coulis

I was looking forward to having their bomb alaska but perhaps it was this anticipation that led to an even greater disappointment. It was neither a traditional rendition nor an improvement on the traditional. The beautiful looking meringue was far too sweet and the filling was certainly not traditional. Instead of a layer of sponge followed by ice cream in the centre, behind the meringue layer was what tasted like a sponge and ice cream blend.

The entire experience as a whole was disappointing, given the "celebrity chef status" attached to the restaurant. We were also horrified by the level of service afforded to us by a male waiter who was unnecessarily rude to our table. The dishes were thrown onto the table and when he served our coffees at the end, he flung J's coffee so hard that some of it spilt over. And there was not so much as an apology.
La Luna Bistro on Urbanspoon

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