A subterranean bolthole with a delicious pedigree and an odd nod towards a certain film marks Luna out as somewhere that has to be experienced.
We arrived for a semi-traditional, quarterly, pals lunch at Luna recently and were delighted by the ebullient welcome from Dublin restaurant stalwart Declan Maxwell. We’ve always enjoyed a Maxwell house, he used to head up Chapter One with the equally stalwarty Martin Corbett and is a charmer of a host.
The interior apes the kind of thing you’d expect from 1950s Rome (although they say it’s “inspired by the Italian restaurants of 1950’s (sic) America”) but is confusedly accompanied by staff wearing the (exact) same uniform as the bartender, Lloyd, in The Shining, which is further confounded – in a Kubrickian sense – by the carpet, which is the exact same hexagonal carpet that features heavily in the same film. Go figure … Luna (moon) … The Shining … Moonshining? I dunno …
But back to lunch. We order a couple of salume boards (€14 each). The food vibe is also Italian, and the salume is fantastic. The boards are accompanied by a gorgeous olive oil, balsamic and sourdough bread for dippage. The meats are slivered, delicately, on a yellow, flywheel meat slicer close by and are all the more flavourful for being done there and then. There’s five-week aged beef sirloin, cured and lightly smoked; fennel salami that piques the flavour receptors; a subtle mortadella with pistachio, and a gracefully-aged Parma ham. It was all incredibly gorgeous but I do have a very soft spot for simply served, yet top-notch, Italian cold cuts. Who doesn’t?
The rest of the menu is presented in the Italian style, (Carne, Pesce etc.) but some of the prices cause a round of spluttering, well maybe it was just me spluttering – at the €55 ray wing and the €85 osso buco (it’s for two, but I’m not quite over the recession enough to go there. Will I ever be?). My good friends probably sensed my behind-napkin spluttering and opted for a selection of very accomplished primi plates and sides. (Phew). They include the Insalata Verde Ferrigno (€14), which I assume is a reference to Incredible Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno, because it’s a green salad … and like, The Shining … and … The Hulk … actually, I really don’t know what’s going on with the pop cultural references. Anyway, it was gorgeous too: soft, pristine butterhead leaves, perfectly-ripe avocado, wafer-thin pickled apple and more, in an almost exuberantly-zinging dressing. A few more primi dishes and sides of which the (keepin’ it Oirish here) fried baby tatties with garlic butter and Parmesan (€5) as well as a raw tuna with strawberries and basil dish (€14), are absolute stand-outs.
The dessert trolley rolled around topped with luscious old-school things like chocolate gateau and a pitch-perfect peach melba, which was greedily (in a polite way) devoured.
Luna is a bit of a trip, we all enjoyed it and there were a few persnickety gourmands among our number, so not at all an easily pleased bunch. The lunch can be expensive if you don’t have friends who are happy to stoop to your financial level, however, if you want to play it safe, you can, but that’s probably not the point here, so I’d recommend going when you’re feeling a little flush. I’ll be back to try dinner at some point, when I imagine the room really comes alive. And in the meantime, if you visit, do let us know if you can figure out those mysterious pop cultural references, or spot anymore …
Luna is open 5pm-11pm, Tuesday to Saturday; and 2pm-11pm, Friday. Bookings are welcome.
2-3 Drury Street,
01 679 9009 (ext 2);