La Luna Bistro
320 Rathdowne St
Carlton North, VIC 3054
(03) 9349 4888

Sister-A recently received a promotion at work, so naturally my family decided to celebrate the only way we know how: going out to dinner. Sister-A gave us a few options, including The Commoner and Anada, both great restaurants. But it was the untapped gem that is La Luna in North Carlton that won out in the end.

La Luna is a small informal bistro in North Carlton which serves rustic-style food. If you’ve ever watched the show Good Chef Bad Chef, you may have seen owner Adrian Richardson cooking alongside nutritionist Janella Purcell as the “Bad Chef”. Not that this title is indicative of his skills in the kitchen – it’s purely to do with his apparently indulgent use of ingredients when compared to that of health-concious Purcell’s. But Richardson’s simple approach to his food, which he calls “modern Mediterranean”, ensures only the freshest and best ingredients are used.

Since I had been only a stones throw away in Fitzroy prior to our 7.00pm booking, I arrived first at La Luna. A very helpful waitress offered me the wine list, and guided me towards a bottle of Tempranillo to share which she kindly decanted for us in a giant beaker. Over the next 20 minutes as I waited for my family to arrive, all the waitresses made me feel very welcome, one even offering me proscuitto-wrapped crostini. But I turned down her offer, determined not to fill up before the main event.

By 7.15pm I was glad to see my family when they finally arrived. I think Father-T was a little flustered, as he is not all that familiar with the area. Not that La Luna is difficult to find at all: a bright neon orange sign out front shines like a beacon on Rathdowne St.

To begin with, Father-T and Sister-A decided to share some oysters which arrived with a herb-garden dressing ($3.00 each). I have tried a few oysters in my time, but I still can’t stand the texture. As Father-T and Sister-A inhaled them, they both commented on how fresh they were, with Sister-A remarking she had even forgotten to add the dressing they were so nice as they were.

For the main, I was drawn to the slow braised lamb shoulder, with coriander, parsley, red onion & caper salad ($85.00 for two). Luckily Sister-A agreed to share with me. What arrived was a very succulent, juicy cut of lamb, that could have been eaten with a spoon it was that tender. It was amazing – exactly how it should have been. The accompanying salad was also a nice fresh touch, adding an almost oriental feel to the dish with the heavy use of coriander.

Mother-K chose the crisp duck legs with braised red cabbage, celeriac & hazelnut salad. ($39.50). I was lucky enough to get a bite as Mother-K insisted I try the cabbage, which was sweet and sour with still a little crunch to it.

Father-T opted for the crackling-wrapped roll of roast pork with zucchini, garlic, lemon, and herbs ($38.50). It was a lovely looking dish, which Father-T devoured in record time.

For sides, we shared two serves of polenta chips (the first practically disappeared in front of my eyes so excuse the empty looking bowl) and a serve of green beans ($9.50 each). You MUST have the polenta chips – cooked in stock then deep fried, they have much more flavour than regular chips. If you would like to make them yourself, there’s a recipe from my housewarming here.

For dessert, our waitress suggested we try the dessert tasting plate, citing that the serve meant for 2 was “just the right amount” for a taste amongst the 4 of us ($28.75). She was right, though I had to get in quick before the rest of the family ate everything up. On the plate was a creme caramel, chocolate mousse, raspberry sorbet, lemon meringue, chocolate brownie, and homemade ice cream served with tuile, though I’m not sure which was my favourite.

We were all very impressed with La Luna. While the wait between the oysters and the mains was a little long, the staff was very reassuring, making this minor hiccup forgivable. A very friendly, relaxed atmosphere with great food. Not much more you could ask for really.

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