We were recently invited by Aluna, Birmingham to review their new menu. With baby number 2 due in 6 weeks time, we jumped at the chance. We normally try to have a date night once a month and take it in turns to organise. Although, this may have to take a back seat for a while after baby’s arrival.
Aluna is situated within the Mailbox in Birmingham, a hot spot for trendy restaurants and bars. I’d heard of Aluna previously, mostly for their reputation of magical cocktail concoctions, but hadn’t got round to visiting. Upon arrival we were shown to our table and talked through the menu options. The new menu focuses on Pan Asian flavours, as a lover of Thai food there was lots I wanted to try. The menu was divided into smaller dishes, which were similar to a traditional starter size portion. There were then plates to share; the waitress explained these were designed to share a few between the table. If you didn’t fancy sharing there were also bigger plates options.
There was also a rather extensive cocktail menu on our table. It was hard to focus on picking food or drinks first, particularly when we kept spotting the amazing cocktails being served at tables around us. I’d known that Aluna was famous for adding a spark of theatrical magic to the cocktails and they certainly didn’t disappoint. We saw drinks served in skull tankards that were lit on fire at the table, and an impressive cocktail tree boasting 9 cocktails.
After we had finally concentrated on the menu long enough, we ordered our selection and waited excitedly for the order to arrive.
To start off the evening Mr Mack chose a Banoffeerama. It came with a slice of caramelised banana and was deliciously sweet. He is a huge fan of banoffee pie and was impressed how similar it tasted to the classic dessert. Having to stick to the Antidotes (Mocktails) section of the menu, I’d chosen to start with a Thai Smoothie. It came served in a tall glass and was a thick, oozy offering of Mango, Banana and Coconut, some of my favourite flavours. It was delicious and very filling, I could easily have had this instead of a dessert.
For our next round of cocktails, Mr Mack wanted to experience a drink made with the famous Aluna magic, and settled on a Lavalamp. When it arrived, the drink was bubbling and fizzing away and had hidden pomegranate gel balls inside. The flavours were based around orange with a gin base. Mr Mack enjoyed this one too, although found it a bit sour after his first drink was so sweet. I went for a Raspberry Sling, which also came in a tall, elegant drink and was a lot lighter and tangier than my earlier choice.
Our cocktails were all wonderfully presented and I would love to come back after I’ve had baby to enjoy more of the alcoholic selection and get to work my way through more of the menu.
Starters (Small Dishes)
We opted to go for the Tiger Prawn Cookies and Black Pepper Beef San Choy Bau to share between us. The cookies were served piping hot, a great start, and came with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. They had a wonderful crunch to them and the flavour of prawn, lime and garlic came through together beautifully. I could have definitely kept on eating more of these.
The Beef dish came served in lettuce leaves, similar to a Yuk Sung Dish. The filling was a rich, mix of minced Beef flavoured with Lemongrass and topped with crispy noodles. Not a dish for cutlery, definitely needed to get stuck in with fingers with this one. Again, I could have happily eaten more of these, they were delicious yet fresh too, due to the lettuce casing.
I think the small dishes were my favourite course and there were lots more on the menu I’d happily have tried. For our next visit to Aluna, I’d definitely take more of a relaxed approach to dining and have more of these smaller plates to share rather then stick to a traditional 3 courses option.
Mains (Plates To Share)
For our next course we had chosen to share a Red Scallop Curry and Beef Bulgogi Sirloin. Additionally, we’d opted for sides of Jasmine Rice, Skinny Fries and Steamed Seasonal Vegetables.
The curry was beautifully presented, as was all of our food and drink throughout the evening. It was a wonderfully aromatic Red Thai curry, with just the right kick of heat at the back of the throat. The scallops were soft, well cooked and had soaked up the flavour of the curry really well. The dish went great with the sticky Jasmine Rice to mop up the flavoursome sauce. I also enjoyed dipping the steamed vegetables into the sauce too.
The Steak, was cooked well, medium, as we had asked it. The flavour of the seasoning was great too, with a lovely lime kick. Unfortunately the Steak was served cold, it had been left to rest for far too long before serving.
The Fries were well cooked and deliciously hot and crispy, our vegetables were also cooked well, and came served still with a slight crunch which we both really enjoyed.
Even though the waitress had advised us that we may need a few portions to share between us, there was plenty of food, and we weren’t able to finish everything. Perhaps if we hadn’t have had the starters we would have had more room to share more portions.
Having checked out the dessert offering, I had to admit I was a little disappointed. It was clear that Aluna had a great offering of pan Asian cuisine on the menu. However, it felt that the theme hadn’t carried through to the desserts and personally I found the selection a bit boring.
I did choose a Mint Chocolate Pudding and Mr Mack went for a Salted Caramel option. Both desserts were quite similar in style, a thin sponge base with a creamy filling. My dessert had a good mint flavour and I liked the crunchy topping. Mr Mack said his dessert had a good flavour too. There wasn’t anything bad at all about either of our desserts, but there wasn’t anything particularly exciting either.
The décor at Aluna was well themed, with nods to both the scientific and elements of magic and mystical sorcery throughout. Every wall had something different to look at. Aluna has a modern yet also cosy feel to it, with feature lighting throughout.
Our visit to Aluna was on a Saturday night on a payday weekend, so we knew it was going to be busy. That said our service was good and food came within good times. Our waitress was happy to answer any questions about the menu and was really attentive at checking we were ok throughout the evening.
Given how busy it was, it was also very noisy. Aluna is separated into two areas, the bar and the restaurant with a low level separation in between. Whilst this created a good open plan feel, it did mean the noise carried over into the eating area. Aluna would be perfect for having great food and carrying on the evening in the bar area with more drinks. The environment wasn’t the best for a quiet, romantic meal out, but if you were looking for somewhere more lively then Aluna would be perfect.
Both Mr Mack and I enjoyed our evening out, the food choices and offerings were good and the cocktails were definitely impressive. We both agreed that we’d like to return to Aluna. Further, it would be good to bring friends to enjoy the sharing plates and one of those amazing cocktail trees.
For an up to date menu and booking visit the Aluna website here.
Disclaimer: We were invited as guests to Aluna to review their new menu. We were not required to leave a positive review and all opinions and views are entirely our own.