In my opinion, there’s no better way to spend a Friday night than by going for dinner and cocktails – and living in Bristol, I’m pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding on a place to go. One of my favourite places in the city centre is Aluna, which is opposite the Hippodrome and just along from Sainsburys. Described as “a concept unlike any other”, it’s a great place to go for after work cocktails, and despite it having a restaurant area, it’s not somewhere I’ve ever thought of going for dinner before. So when I was invited to go along on a Friday night, I couldn’t possibly say no!
Upon arrival, the first thing I noticed was lots of people stood outside and the sound of music playing through the open doors – it certainly looked like a busy, popular place to go on a Friday night, which I thought was a good sign for the evening ahead. As my boyfriend and I walked through the busy bar to the restaurant area, past a DJ booth (not something I’m used to seeing in restaurants!), we were met by a friendly server who sat us at a table for four.
As soon as we were seated, I looked around and noticed how the restaurant area felt very high end, with its velvet covered furniture, low lighting and plenty of cool ornaments and picture frames – my expectations for the evening certainly went up a level!
After we’d taken some time to read through the extensive drinks menu, our server returned to take our drinks order. We asked for his recommendations for some cocktails, and he suggested two of Aluna’s showstoppers – Bush Fire (a gin cocktail of Old J shaken with sloe gin, raspberries and rosemary, torched with a spray of Old J Tiki Fire) and Lava Lamp (an orange sweetened long drink with lava lumps throughout) – both sounded intriguing and I couldn’t wait for them to be brought to our table.
When our cocktails arrived, we both couldn’t have been more impressed – it’s not every day that you get to drink a cocktail that’s been set on fire in front of your eyes, or that moves like a lava lamp! Best of all, they both tasted great – the meal was off to a fantastic start.
Moving on to our food order, we decided to share Vegetable Spring Rolls (deep fried crispy rolls served with Thai dipping sauce), Salt Chilli Squid (deep fried squid with fresh chillies, spring onions and garlic) and my all time favourite – Chicken Satay (chicken marinated with herbs and aromatic spices and chargrilled, served with peanut dipping sauce). The menu here is a fusion of Asian and oriental flavours, along with some Tex Mex favourites such as nachos, and I was looking forward to seeing how the dishes would be executed in this lively bar environment. Needless to say, when the starters arrived we weren’t disappointed – not only did they all taste delicious (the peanut dipping sauce with the Chicken Satay was probably the best I’ve ever tasted), but the presentation was also top notch.
With our starter plates swiftly cleared, I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of my main – Beef Massaman Curry (a rich coconut curry with potatoes, peanuts and onions in homemade Massaman paste) served with rice, a true Thai classic. My boyfriend ordered the Ponzu Duck (pan-fried duck breast with aubergine, served on a bed of soba noodles with ponzu sauce), another Asian dish which he was looking forward to trying. When our mains arrived, we were again really impressed with the presentation, and the flavours of my curry did not disappoint – the beef was also really tender too. My boyfriend however, was slightly disappointed with his choice. While he thought the duck was cooked perfectly, he felt the Ponzu sauce had slightly too much salt in it, which was a tad overpowering. That said, we both enjoyed our mains, and felt the quality of the ingredients used was excellent.
I decided to satisfy my sweet tooth with a Mango and Passion Fruit Cheesecake, and my boyfriend went for the Limoncello Truffle. I thought the cheesecake was exactly how a good one should be – light and creamy with a rich biscuit base, and my boyfriend thought the truffle had a perfect lemony flavour. There were clean plates all round!
Overall I really enjoyed my meal at Aluna. We had great service all evening, and the menu certainly takes some beating – the quality of the cocktails and food is excellent. I think it’s the perfect place to go for an after work dinner with friends or for a romantic date night – it has a great atmosphere and I will be back soon, and not just for cocktails either!
Have you been to Aluna before? I’d love to know what you think – so why not share your comments below?