I’m always a bit wary of places which give out slightly mixed messages, and the most recent example of this has to be Aluna, which opened in late 2015 in the place where Thai Edge once stood.
Combining mixology (or ‘molecular cocktails’ as they also term it) with a menu which emcompasses everything from nachos, to pasta, to Thai food, to roast dinners – I really had no idea what to expect when I was invited into their rather snazzy bar one nippy Friday evening.
First impressions are of a slick and sophisticated bar area, with the dining room further back against the windows. There are plenty of seats up at high tables or the bar if you just want to stop in for a cocktail, or a good mix of smaller tables and large booths for those coming for dinner.
I’d heard that Aluna had taken the wise decision in keeping on some of the kitchen staff from when the place was still Thai Edge, so I decided to keep my choices within the Thai options on the menu.
I have to say, you can certainly tell you’re in the centre with some of the rather ballsy pricing here – £13.95 for seafood linguine, £18.95 for rack of lamb and £18.95 for lemon sole basket. These are prices I’d be more accustomed to in Clifton rather than a cocktail bar/casual dining place, but I guess they have high rents to pay here too.
To start, I had the soft shelled crab, which came with a good amount of spice, chilli and crunch. It was a decently-sized portion and the dipping sauce was nice too.
My dining companion opted for the chicken satay which again was a good-sized portion, and the sauce was fresh & fragrant, if a little thin for my tastes, but then I like my satay almost like a tangy, thick peanut butter, so that’s just personal preference.
On to mains – Singapore noodles for my companion and Duck Ponzu for me – both dishes came piled high with food, which helped to offset the price concerns I’d had a bit.
The Singapore Noodles were flavoursome and nicely cooked with generous amounts of chicken and prawns. The Duck Ponzu was okay – I found the duck a bit overcooked and dry, and the massive bed of soba noodles it sat on made the whole dish a bit too heavy for me.
The cocktails were the real star of the show during our visit, with our first round comprising of a Bush Fire (see flaming pic below) and a tasty Amaretto Sour. Clearly a big draw for the people on the night was the theatre that goes into their cocktails, and on this front they didn’t disappoint.
I decided to put this molecular cocktail mastery to the test and ordered a Colour-changing Martini for my next drink, with my self-assured male companion ordering himself a Cosmopolitan.
Both drinks tasted great, and as much as it felt a bit odd syringing liquid into my cocktail, it did fill me with some childlike glee to see it change from a deep midnight blue to indigo.
We struggled to chat over the loud music towards the end of the meal, as the bar already had a DJ on the decks (I guess it was a a Friday eve, but 7pm seems a bit early to ramp up the volume), but the place was fairly packed as we left, with plenty of excited faces crowding the bar to watch their cocktails being made, set alight or tinkered with.
I’m not sure how desperate I’d be to go back to Aluna for the food alone, but the cocktails are certainly lots of fun, the service was top notch and I can imagine it being a good choice for a birthday or start of a lively night out for a group.
Disclaimer Doodle: Although we received our meal and first drinks on the house, this did not affect our opinion, and we were not asked to write a positive review or send any copy in advance.