La Luna has a tough job ahead – the last occupant in its Elgin Street premises, the deliberately misspelled Canadian venture Cannuck, lasted less than six months as it struggled to peddle expensive Alberta steaks to a public who struggled to grasp that there was more to Canadian cuisine than moose and maple syrup. So, it’s down with the maple leaf and up with the red and yellow of the Spanish flag instead. Tapas and paella now dominate the menu at 31 Elgin, and Iberian reds head the wine list.
The lighting in the narrow dining area is low, while Spanish folk is played just a little too loudly over the sound system to cultivate any sense of romanticism. Then again, by its very nature tapas promotes an atmosphere of joviality over intimacy.
The morsel-led menu concept is proving to be popular in Soho, with La Luna joining the likes of Scirocco, Boca, Cicada, and Tapeo in offering a wide selection of bite-sized starters, presumably to grasp the interest of customers with short attention spans. Here, the chef’s specials include chicken and foie gras croquettes, and scallop ceviche with avocado and crispy shallot. We ordered a platter ($198) that offered a range of options, including the tuna, avocado, olive and tomato terrine with chilli oil (light and peppery), slow-cooked ox tail on puff pastry with fig compote and Manchego cheese (an unusual yet agreeable fruity tang-meets-dark meat deal), disappointingly bland calamari stuffed with chorizo, and, the highlight, a generous bowl of mussels soaked in a bean sauce and served with spicy pumpkin and bacon.
After breezing by the salads ($70-$75) and soups ($55-$60), groups would be well served to select from the jumbo-sized paellas (a sample: rabbit, chicken and white bean; juicy lobster; chicken and black truffle). From the even more extensive list of mains, however, singles or couples might settle on the very good grilled beef tenderloin ($165) – about the size of a farmer’s fist and served with a wheel of fried bacon and onion – or the hearty seafood combo of scallops, prawns, and mussels ($155), served with a light smattering of beans and peas. While the steak wasn’t as bloody as a medium-rare order requires, its charcoaled, crispy edge concealed a satisfactory-tasting slab of meat.
It’s early days for the restaurant, which could explain why the service, while well-intentioned, was sometimes nervous and a little over-hasty, but it can be safely said that La Luna is off to a steady, if unremarkable, start. Check back in six months time to see if the Spanish flag is still flying.
31 Elgin St, Soho, 2524 4123. Daily noon-11pm. Meal for two: $800.
|Venue name:||La Luna (closed)|
31 Elgin St, Soho