La Luna, Carlton

Dining Out: La Luna Restaurant Express Lunch

by April@MyFoodTrail on March 6, 2012

in Carlton North, Dining Out, Express Lunch, Modern Australian

La Luna
320 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North VIC
(03) 9349 4888

March is upon us and in Melbourne, it signals the official end of summer but also the start of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. The Melbourne Food and Wine festival celebrates 20 years in 2012, and runs for 20 days from March 2 to 21. There are hundreds of events to attend, with 80 events under $50. You can check out the full list of events here.

One of the events I make sure I attend every year is the $35 Restaurant Express lunch . For $35, you get two courses, plus a glass of wine and tea or coffee at a selection of well known restaurants around Melbourne and country Victoria. It’s an excellent chance to experience two courses at a restaurant for less than a normal priced main. It is also one of the cheaper Melbourne Food and Wine Festival events so it’s good for those on a budget.

La Luna is a restaurant I’ve been meaning to visit for some time. It is the restaurant of Adrian Richardson, who you may have seen on Channel 10’s “Ready Steady Cook”, or more recently on “Good Chef Bad Chef” with Janella Purcell. Nothing against Janella personally, but I find her irritating on the show. She’s forever telling Adrian off for using too much butter, too much meat etc. I think a much better concept for the show would have been for both of them to cook the same dish, but Janella makes a healthier, low fat version.

La Luna was a lot smaller than I expected, but they must have another dining room upstairs or out the back because I saw a large group disappear at the back of the restaurant. The main attraction of the dining area is a large blackboard above the bar which displays a drawn picture of a whole cow and the different cuts of meat. Apparently on the other side there is a drawing of a pig but I didn’t notice it from where I was sitting.

La Luna - Outside Inside

La Luna – outside & inside

The Restaurant Express menu at La Luna had a choice of 3 entrees, 4 mains and 3 desserts. Hubby and I opted for an entree and main each, but then shared a dessert. You can add on an extra course for $10.

We started off with a glass of wine each, one red, one white.

La Luna - Red wine white wine

Red wine & white wine

For entree, hubby chose the grilled, smokey bacon that was sitting on top of a Mexican version of baked beans. I enjoyed the flavour of the bacon together with the beans, but the bacon was a bit too chewy for me.

La Luna - Grilled, smokey bacon, Mexican beans

Grilled, smokey bacon, Mexican beans

I ordered the house cured pancetta. On the menu it said it was supposed to come with pickled peppers, but instead there was a small portion of what tasted like poached pear. I didn’t mind because the pear went well with the salty, fatty pancetta.

La Luna - House cured pancetta, pickled peppers

House cured pancetta, pickled peppers

For the main, hubby ordered the bull boar sausages. I had to Google what were bull boar sausages. It is a beef and pork sausage that has been around since the 1850s.You can read more about it in this Age article. From the menu, the sausages were supposed to come with an aioli, but they were sitting on what appeared to be mash potato. Hubby liked the sausages.

La Luna - House made bull boar sausage, aioli, walnut, chives

House made bull-boar sausage, aioli, walnut & chives

I got the slow cooked beef ribs. They were boneless and the meat was so, so tender with just the right amount of gelatinous fat. The tomato based sauce was really tasty. The colourful salsa on top was a great way to brighten up what would have otherwise been a blah looking brown dish!

La Luna - Slow cooked beef rib, tomato, peppers, spices, sweet corn salsa

Slow cooked beef ribs, tomato, peppers, spices, sweet corn salsa

We finished off with a dessert of chocolate pudding served with a burnt fig ice cream and a piece of honeycomb. The chocolate pudding, although tiny, was heavenly, and matched very well with the burnt fig ice cream. I just wish there was more of it!

La Luna - Chocolate pudding, burnt fig ice cream, honeycomb

Chocolate pudding, burnt fig ice cream, honeycomb

La Luna - Chocolate pudding gooey centre

Gooey centre of the pudding

Overall: The $35 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Restaurant lunches represent fantastic value. You won’t get as much choice as their full menu and you have to finish your lunch in less than 90 minutes, but I found it a great way to get a sample of the restaurant’s food and environment.

What to order: The slow cooked beef ribs, the chocolate pudding

Over & Out, April xx

La Luna Bistro on Urbanspoon

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle chin March 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm

the pudding looks really lovely!

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April@MyFoodTrail March 7, 2012 at 11:04 am

Was really yummy too!

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Vien @ We Dare Food March 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I really Adrian! And I completely agree with you! Janella is reaaaaaaaaaally annoying! She’s always rolling her eyes when Adrian adds REAL stuff like butter, ice cream, meat, etc. Everything looks really yummy! And that pudding looks like an amazing way to end the meal!! 🙂

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April@MyFoodTrail March 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

Hahaha, I’m glad there is someone else that agrees with me about Janella! 🙂

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Winston March 6, 2012 at 10:28 pm

OMG! This looks and sounds like the best Express Lunch this season yet!! I like how it’s not overly complicated but jam packed with delicious flavours. Definitely top of my list for places to go this MFWF. THANKS!!!!

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April@MyFoodTrail March 7, 2012 at 11:06 am

I think it’s probably one of the ones with the most choice too since you get a choice of 3 entrees, 4 mains and 3 desserts. You better hurry and book to ensure you don’t miss out!

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Sarah March 7, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Hi April,

I absolutely agree with you about Janelle! I hate the way she’s always screwing up her nose at Adrian’s food – I think healthy food is great, but she seems to suck all the joy out of eating! 🙂

xox Sarah

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April@MyFoodTrail March 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Hahaha, high 5 for thinking the same! That’s why I think Janella should make a healthy version of the dish Adrian makes so she can stop screwing up her nose!! 🙂

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EatPlayShop March 8, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Express lunches are such a great incentive to try out new restaurants! I agree with you that the ribs and the chocolate pudding look the most enticing! Thanx for the post and the great photos!

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April@MyFoodTrail March 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Thanks for visiting! I never knew you had a blog too… will check it out! 🙂

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msihua March 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Yum! Everything looks good! Too bad the highlight is the beef ribs! Can’t have any of that 😛

And with you about Janelle 0_0

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April@MyFoodTrail March 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm

It’s a good thing you didn’t come for the La Luna lunch since two of the mains had beef, but if you come for the normal menu, I’m sure there will be lots of pork, lamb and other meat dishes.

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Kat (Spatula, Spoon and Saturday) March 10, 2012 at 8:55 pm

aww that looks awesome! hang on, how do you get dessert as well? i thought it’s meant to be two courses?

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April@MyFoodTrail March 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm

It was two courses for the $35, but we paid an extra $10 to get the dessert course!

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Flower@Nevertoosweet March 12, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I didn’t know the Express Lunch was such a bargain 🙂 I’ve gotta go to them next year definitely a great day ~ and I’m definitely more than happy to pay $10 for the dessert 🙂

Is there something wrong with my laptop? I can’t see most of the photos in this post 🙁 but from your descriptions it sounds like a great meal!

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April@MyFoodTrail March 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Make sure you book early to ensure you don’t miss out next year! Thanks for letting me know about the photos – I don’t know what happened, but I re-did the photo links so hopefully it should work now.

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Agnes March 12, 2012 at 9:05 pm

3: I still can’t believe you’ve posted twice in a week. Still blown away.

4: La Luna looks good – that serve of sausages looks fairly generous.

5: What’s the express lunch for next weekend?? 🙂

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April@MyFoodTrail March 21, 2012 at 9:18 am

Haha!
The sausages were pretty small actually. Maybe slightly bigger than the length of an iphone? Photos can be deceiving!
My next (and final) express lunch will be posted up soon(ish) 🙂

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Iron Chef Shellie March 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I went to La Luna maaaaaany years ago and loved it. I really should go back…. even just for chocolate pudding!

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April@MyFoodTrail March 21, 2012 at 9:19 am

While a chocolate pudding is pretty standard nowdays, this one was a particularly good one. Gooey centre and perfect balance for me between sweet and bitter!

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