Review: Aluna, Bristol
Updated: Jan 24, 2019
"Don't settle for average... let our team create you an evening to remember." This is the bold opening statement on the Aluna website, which also claims that this bar & restaurant is the 'perfect spot' for people looking for something that little bit different in the centre of Bristol.
Set in the busy Broad Quay area, just along from the Radisson Blu hotel, and literally surrounded by other bars, it must be difficult to come up with a concept which makes your establishment stand out from the crowd. However, I believe Aluna has done just that, although it's hard to pinpoint just one aspect which makes the Aluna experience unique.
We had booked a table for 7pm on a Saturday evening, so it was fairly busy when we arrived a few minutes early, yet we were greeted by a friendly waiter almost instantly, and shown to our table for two straightaway.
The restaurant decor is extremely stylish and perfect for Instagram photos (of course!) with a good number of smaller tables for couples, but still with plenty of space available for bigger groups. During our time there, a mixture of both couples and groups of friends were enjoying dining in the main restaurant area, and there was a lively but relaxed atmosphere.
And now for one of the main aspects which made our experience at Aluna so memorable - our waiter (sadly I didn't manage to get his name!) - who was so knowledgeable and passionate about the menu that we decided to completely trust his suggestions for which dishes to try. As soon as we mentioned that we are vegetarian, he informed us that any of the curries can be made without meat (so it's always worth asking if there are any dishes on the menu which can be adapted to your dietary needs).
The Pan-Asian inspired menu is a really interesting mix of dishes which are designed to share. We started with two of the 'small dishes' - the Chilli Spinach Gyoza (with spring onion and chilli soy), and the Edamame & Tofu Croquette, which was served with a lime siracha aioli.
Both dishes were the perfect appetisers - the Gyoza (Asian dumplings) contained just the right amount of chilli so as not to overpower the taste of the spinach filling, and the soy sauce meant that they weren't too dry. And the Edamame & Tofu Croquette had the perfect texture inside and out, and was just absolutely delicious, as was the accompanying spicy Thai dipping sauce.
For our main courses, or 'plates to share' as Aluna calls them, we tried the Green Vegetable & Lychee Curry (this contained Aubergine, Baby Corn, Cherry Tomato & Crispy Leeks), the Chilli Crusted Tofu (with Morning Glory, Sweet Tamarind, Beansprout & Mint Salad), and the Edamame & Kale Pancake, which had a Smoked Avocado Ratatouille, Spiced Yoghurt & Pomegranate Dressing.
The curry wasn't as hot as a traditional Thai green curry which I think is a good thing as it meant that more of the flavours came through. We ate this with a bowl of the best sticky Jasmine rice that I've tasted for a long time.
The Chilli Crusted Tofu was sublime, expertly cooked to ensure it was the perfect melt in the mouth texture, and it wasn't too spicy due to the nice addition of the beansprout & mint salad.
Every dish was immaculately presented, with the Edamame & Kale Pancake being no exception. It looked almost too good to eat (but of course it was eaten and very much enjoyed!) The texture of the pancake wasn't at all stodgy, and the ratatouille was a great way of livening up what could have been quite a plain dish.
All of the food was washed down with a gorgeous Sauvignon Blanc, again suggested by our waiter, who seemed as knowledgeable about the wine list as he was about the food. Service from the other waiting staff was just as attentive, but not too much, which made for a very relaxed and enjoyable experience.
To finish, we decided to share a dessert, and we tried the Lemon Ginger Cheesecake, which had a Butter Shortcrust, with Cream Cheese, Lemon, Ginger & Meringue. It was the perfect way to end our meal - refreshing and not too heavy.
Verdict: You could easily dismiss Aluna as just another bar in the centre of Bristol, but that would be a huge mistake! The food is inspired and delicious, the service is absolutely fantastic, and the atmosphere is fun and lively (but not in an over-the-top way). It is definitely somewhere "a little bit different" and I, for one, can't wait to return.
Let me know if you've been to Aluna - I'd love to know what you think! Leave me a comment below.
Disclaimer: I was offered complimentary food & drinks for two, in return for an honest review. All thoughts and photos are my own.