One never knows quite what to expect when entering a cocktail bar and restaurant which “thrives on the adventurous and relishes in the abnormal.”
When we arrived, Aluna seemed pretty tranquil with its soft furnishings and retro lighting. Beside the bar there were a couple of groups who nursed a humpday cocktail and the restaurant part of Aluna was completely empty save for a waitress who was poised nearby to welcome guests inside. Not a particularly adventurous start but then, no one feels very adventurous on a dreary Wednesday evening.
The cocktail menu on the other hand, did hint to Aluna’s passion for the abnormal. With over 60 different choices of drink, there was every combination of liqueur you could think of and more besides. You could order a liquefied (and alcoholic) version of a dessert, you could order a drink which smoked and fizzed or you could literally have your drink set alight before your eyes. It was all pretty impressive to watch but we did notice the effort Aluna put in to the presentation of their drinks did, on occasion, compromise the taste.
Drawn in by the promise of sweet, toasted marshmallow blended with vodka and vanilla liqueur, I opted for the Marshmallow Daiquiri (£7.95) to start. The marshmallow was perfectly sculpted into a swirl on the top of the shallow glass but sadly it did nothing for the taste. After spooning it out, there wasn’t much cocktail left in the glass and what was there tasted pretty bland. Sam’s whiskey based “old fashioned” cocktail (£8.50) however, was much better, perfectly blended with the bitters and served on the rocks. He was very happy.
There was no distinct style or theme to the food menu, it was more a mish-mash of Thai, Indian and steakhouse offerings which varied in price from around £6 for a starter to £16 for a main course. There was no dessert menu which was a little surprising but then, with apple pie flavoured cocktails on the drinks menu, we were more than happy to sample a boozy alternative.
We started with a very generous portion of Bruschetta Pomadoro (£5.50) and Butter Prawns (£7.95). The bruschetta was delightfully warm with a satisfying crunch to the crust, topped with tomatoes which had been lightly seasoned with garlic and salt then drizzled in oil. The two loaf halves could have done with being cut into more manageable slices and the slightly wilted, shop-bought rocket on the side was unnecessary but other than that, Sam was happy with it.
My Butter Prawns fared better, the individual prawns encased in a light, crispy batter. Served with a rich, chilli-infused sauce, every bite brought a welcome flush to the cheeks and a slight tingle down the spine.
The gloriously creamy potato gratin which came with the pan fried pork belly main, was easily one of the highlights of our meal. The pork was perfectly tender but the steamed seasonal vegetables and salad were clearly just there to fill the plate. The main would have been far better if a little more thought had gone into the vegetables, even if it was three honey-glazed roasted carrots on the side, it would have made a massive difference.
My Rack of Lamb (£18.95) was lightly grilled to give the meat a touch of pink and was served with roasted new potatoes, seasonal veg, a ramekin of red wine jus and salad. The meat was tasty and moist (though it was odd to have a rack of lamb served as five separate ribs) and the rich, thick red wine jus was delicious. There were a generous number of parsley-seasoned potatoes though they were a bit overcooked and the seasonal vegetables and salad again, looked like they’d just been bought from the shop and bunged into a saucepan. For a £20 main, I expected more.
To round off our Aluna experience, our waitress brought us a final drink, mine a refreshingly sharp Ginger Lemontini (£7.45) and Sam’s the ‘No. 10’ (£7.50) which replaced the more traditional gin with a rum spirit, along with hints of blueberry.
Situated right beside the harbourside, Aluna is a great place to stop off at on the weekend when the bar is in full swing and the cocktail-making theatrics really kick off but for food, I’d probably go somewhere else.
Please Note: Whilst I can invited to review Aluna and the food and drinks were complimentary all opinions are my own. Rights to the photos also belong to me.