What kind of lunatics would choose to open a new bar and eatery at a time like this? With lockdowns and restrictions, cleaning regimes, masks and seated consumption rules, plus customers who still can’t grasp the concept of booking ahead, you’d need to either be slightly batty or have a very firm handle on the complicated nuances of hospitality.
Walk-ins used to be part of the standard customer mix but will now have you waiting out in the cold for some other group of rushed diners to leave their table. And then you’ll still need to stand by as it is sufficiently sanitised before you take your prized seats.
An unthinkable nightmare for some. But for others, a well-considered challenge worth accepting.
I dropped into Bar Lune during opening week back in May, and very quickly discovered that its owners – Sam Worrall-Thompson (former executive chef at Fine and Fettle and Community) and partners Toby Porter (ex-d’Arenberg), Josh De Haas (Chopping Board Catering), Tony Bales (ex-Pink Moon Saloon) and Brett Hicks-Maitland (Community) – seemed to have everything in check.
The space has a swanky fit-out with a large terrazzo bar, cosy booth seating in the window, high and low tables, and a wall that displays its very well-curated collection of top-shelf (but still well-priced) wines. The mood was set with dimmed lighting and smooth upbeat tunes. Enthusiastic staff buzzed between drinkers and diners who just as enthusiastically worked their way through a short but satisfying menu of snacks, eats and drinks.
It was obvious that from week one that the team behind Lune knew exactly what they wanted to offer their dining public. A suburban bar it may be, but with all the finery of city-style venues and without a whisper of attitude. That night we snacked on silky duck parfait and white anchovy toast, were introduced to barramundi soldiers and wood-grilled pipis, and washed it all down with recommended glasses of this and that from the wine wall. It really was an unexpected treat.
Propped up at the same bar some months later, we’re treated with that same familiar feeling. The menu has changed a little, but thankfully they have kept some of those introductory snacks.
Lune’s katsu is proof that the Wonder White sandwich trend is still going strong – a wagyu patty of sorts is crumbed, fried and topped with a bespoke coleslaw-like salad of wombok and onion. A “bulldog” sauce imparts a smoky flavour and has us singing this little Japanese-inspired bite’s praises.
And then kingfish sashimi is splayed on a plate among slivers of pickled cucumber and kohlrabi – each offering their own lightly bitter pickled flavour. The combined efforts of crème fraiche and shiso oil pooling between the main ingredients provide a very well-balanced vegetal and creamy taste.
Next, we revisit those delicate white anchovies, each laying atop a petite and piquant egg salad “gribiche”. These are drizzled with an herbaceous sauce that adds complexity and again balances the creaminess of the egg with the salty pickled fish flavour.
Of course, the parfait makes another appearance – these are the highlight snack of the menu. Each dollop of whipped duck liver is centred on a quarter-square of toast that’s been charred over flames, its centre carved out to accommodate a tiny quenelle of a minced jam made of flavoured date. My advice is to order many more of these morsels than you think you’ll need, and then order more, again.
The last of the snacks is a silky taramasalata that is impossibly light and white. Another scooped-out centre provides a pool for salmon roe swimming in a flavoured olive oil, and French fries served on the side provide the perfect scooping utensil. And scoop you will; down to the very last drop of this simple but delicious dip.
The larger of Lune’s dishes are designed to share, with a good variety between meals that showcase seafood, meatier proteins and veg-centric heroes. Roasted duck has been stripped from the leg-bone and combined with hazelnuts and pancetta in a smoky sauce that coats thick strands of freshly made pappardelle. A sprinkling of pangrattato crumb offers some more texture and crunch to this hearty pasta dish.
Expect a little spice and reasonable heat thanks to a chilli sambal, generously applied below and atop a full section of sliced squid that has clearly spent more time marinating in some kind of delicious barbecue sauce than it did being licked by charcoal flames in its preparation. The result is a perfectly cooked and very well-balanced dish where the seafood shines, despite the strong flavours that surround it.
The wine list at Lune is another highlight worth mentioning. It is designed as a journey of discovery, whether eating or not – with a heavy local presence, but also a strong influence from interstate regions and further afar.
Our early snacks were paired with a white Barossa blend made in a quintessentially French style, the John Duval Plexus with its pale but vibrant blend of Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier. To tone down the heat of the squid with sambal we sipped on Chardonnay by Tolpuddle – a Tasmanian producer that is known for producing the best of this white varietal and also makes some show-stopping Pinot Noir. A little later, in lieu of dessert – a McLaren Vale Shiraz from Ox Hardy.
It’d be remiss of me not to mention a few other treats offered by the team at Lune that come in the form of their special and salubrious Sunday events, where you’ll see special menus of food and drinks like Louis Roederer matched with lobster presented in various forms, or crab dishes paired with top pours from Chablis and a curated DJ soundtrack to match.
And so, whether you’re looking at Lune for a quick week-night snack, late Friday dinner or long Sunday session, my advice is to plan ahead, make your reservation early, and help to keep these Lune-atics dishing out their sensational eats, beats and treats.
303 The Parade, Beulah Park
Wednesday and Thursday, 4pm–late
Friday to Sunday, 12pm–late
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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.