It’s been a while since I’ve done a foodie finds post. If I’m honest, it’s because they take a surprisingly long amount of time to produce, so I’m really saving them for restaurants that I really have something to sayabout. Aluna is one of those restaurants.
If you haven’t read my foodie finds series, it’s where I review restaurants from the perspective of your average girl who likes food. I’m not exactly a critic, I didn’t grow up on weekly fancy 5* restaurants. I just… like to eat, and have interesting taste, so it’s fun to review things from that angle. In these reviews, I take a restaurant and comment on:
What I ate/drank
Stand out features (If any)
Likelihood of me returning
I was kindly invited down to Aluna* Bristol to sample their menu and drinks and get a real taste of the Aluna experience… It’s safe to say, I definitely got a taste of what Aluna is about.
Aluna is a bar and restaurant, currently with a branch in Bristol and a branch in Birmingham. They pride themselves on being unique, with their interesting ‘molecular paradise’. Their cocktails aren’t just cocktails: many smoke, or set on fire, or simply look pretty exciting. You can check out their website here.
What I ate…
When we got there, the waitress (Who gave the most amazing, attentive service, even before she found out I was reviewing the restaurant), recommended that we get a few plates between us instead of picking one of two things each, and eat it in a Tapas style. This worked for me because, if you’ve read my Rosa Tapas review, you will know that Tapas is essentially my ideal meal situation. I’m a big fan of having small portions of a lot of things instead of one portion of one thing. So, we ended up having the following:
Spicy Chicken Wings
These were six crispy chicken wings, moderately coated in a spicy sauce, served with chilli, garlic, shallots and seseme. Before eating these, I was slightly worried about the level of spice as the waitress had given us fair warning. You see, I like spice, but I hate when things are so spicy that you can’t enjoy the flavour because then there’s no point. However, this was not the case with these.
My main note upon tasting this was the texture-to-sauce ratio. The best kind of wings manage to have crispy skin and yet still be covered in sauce, and these did just that. The wings were spicy and yes, my tongue did tingle, but I was still able to enjoy their beautiful and somewhat unique (I can’t quite put my finger on it) taste. In all honesty, I absolutely loved these, and if I am to go back, they’re one of the two things that I will order without fail.
Chilli Salt Squid
Chilli squid are always a staple order for me when I go to Wagamama, so it seemed like something I should try here. The portion size was incredibly generous, and I was impressed with how much I got! They were great value for money. However, I found them to be quite chewy, which isn’t my texture of choice when it comes to calamari, so they weren’t one of my favourites. Also, I found that the Yuzu and & Mirin sauce that they were served with wasn’t all that great. To me, it felt like the serving sauce didn’t really have a taste (But of course, that is personal preference).
Aluna Beef Ball Sliders
I feel like sliders aren’t really a thing in England? I see them in American culture quite a bit and they seem ideal. Who doesn’t want a platter of mini burgers? So, when I saw them on the menu they were kind of a no brainer. This particular platter came with three mini burgers with a chilli miso relish, garlic aioli and cheddar. And they were, without a doubt, my favourite thing I ate this night.
In comparison to some other things on the menu, I suppose you could say that they are quite a simple choice. However, the taste was actually quite complex, and the perfect mix of flavours. If I were to go to Aluna again, these – along with the chicken wings – are top of my list.
Chilli Soft Shell Crab Tempura
I won’t lie, I wasn’t a fan of these. I just don’t think that the texture of them was for me – they were slightly mushy. This isn’t really a bad thing, and I should have seen it coming from the use of the word “soft”, but they just weren’t my thing. Also, I learnt that lemon soy sauce (The dipping sauce of choice for these) is definitely not my thing. The batter was nice and crispy though!
Yes, I know that fries are a basic thing. However, I had to try one of the sides and I felt that fries would work well with everything else. The fries themselves were your regular, extremely tasty fries, so if you like fries then you’ll be a fan. HOWEVER, the sauce that they came with was a game changer.
I am a ketchup and fries girl through and through – sometimes I’ll throw in some BBQ, mustard or sweet curry, but the ketchup is always right there next to them. However, these came with some sort of pink sauce? I don’t know what it is because it’s not noted on the menu (Pretty sure it wasn’t burger sauce because I don’t like burger sauce), but I was in love withit. I did not know that one sauce would change me so much. I will be going back to find out what it was.
Dessert: Japanese Finger
The waitress recommended that we tried the Japanese Finger as it was “very different”, so I obviously had to give it a try. This was a matcha biscuits, topped with Yuzu mousse and a passion fruit compote, served with passion fruit sorbet.
It definitely was unlike anything I’d hadbefore. It was a fruity and refreshing mix of flavours, and what you should go for if you are looking for something a little lighter after your dinner. The star of this dish was most definitely the sorbet that came with it. I’m not even that big of a sorbet person (Although, my dad is… He would have absolutely LOVED this sorbet) but I was in love with the taste of this sorbet.
Stand out features…
I didn’t mention the cocktails at all in the food/drink section because, they were most definitely the standout feature of Aluna. Aluna pride themselves on a cool sciencey/magic theme, so the cocktails themselves did some pretty cool things!
I started with a mangolian, which essentially tasted like an alcoholic mango juice. I was a big fan of the taste, but it’s unique selling point was the fact that it smoked! Smoke came off of it as I was drinking it, allowing me to feel like I was drinking some kind of fancy potion. As I had this, by friend had ordered a blueberry cheesecake cocktail. Although this didn’t have any “magical” quality, it tasted like a dessert in a cup. Seriously – the cream on top was somewhat custardy, and when coupled with the blueberry cocktail underneath, it tasted like a trifle in a cocktail glass. Big fan.
However, the drink that stole the show was the Beyond Violet Cauldron that we shared. This wasn’t just a drink… It was a whole show. The waitress brought it over in chemical apparatis, and allowed the drink to boil and distill on our table infront of us, allowing the flavours to diffuse. Once this was done, the drink was poured into a small cauldron (Allowing me to fulfil all my teenage witch fantasies), which resulted in a dramatic eruption of smoke. I had my “Bubble bubble toil and trouble” moment as I absolutely loved it. Also, the cocktail tasted just like Parma Violets,
Would I return?
In short, absolutely. In fact, I left the restaurant already planning my next visit. As I mentioned at the beginning, Aluna were amazingly kind and treated me to this meal free of charge. Therefore, I will admit, that if I had to pay for this meal, I couldn’t have afforded it on my student budget (Unless it was a special occasion like a birthday or something). However, I decided that this is the perfect place to take my parents(and make them buy me food)
That being said though, I do intend to go back with my student friends. I wouldn’t eat as much as I did here… But, If you dressed up nicely, split some cauldron’s between you (They’re made to serve two), and treated yourself to some sliders or wings, it would still make for a cute and classy group night out that wouldn’t break the bank. Essentially, Aluna Bristol, you have a new customer in me.
Thank you so much to Aluna Bristol for allowing me to taste your menu! Would you go to Aluna/have you been? Let me know in the comments!
Lots of love,Jas xx
*DISCLAIMER* This review is not sponsored, but I was given a complimentary meal by Aluna Bristol. However, that does not affect the integrity of my review. All my thoughts and opinions are my own and I always work to keep my reviews genuine and honest. If you want to hear more about how I work with brands, you can do so here.