Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Eating Out in Bristol: Aluna

Remember when you used to have a job but no kids? When going to the gym BEFORE work was a thing (cause you weren't ever really tired and you had plenty of disposable income) and after work drinks were basically what happened every Friday? Or indeed Thursday and sometimes even Wednesday too (though never Tuesday or Monday - I was always pretty sensible and old before my time...)

After work drinks: they've taken on a bit of a mythical quality to me now, in my current world a million miles away from those carefree days mooching about Soho, a time when I could always do after work drinks if I wanted - there was no homework, ironing or urgent life admin to attend to back then.

It's a different life I inhabit nowadays so I felt a bit giddy at the prospect of heading to Bristol's buzzy centre for cocktails last week, an area of the city that attracts plenty of people looking for their after work drinks fix most nights of the week. With the airy Bambalan on one side and opulent drinking den Milk Thistle on the other, this is the part of the Bristol that most reminds me of my previous life in London and many a fun evening offloading the pressures of the working day over cocktails with work mates.

I was in town to visit Aluna, a cocktail bar and restaurant on Broad Quay, just moments from the harbourside. It's not a new opening and also has a branch in Birmingham so I was interested to see what it brings to Bristol's vibrant and diverse restaurant offering. The fact that Aluna has one of the longest cocktail lists I've ever seen was perhaps what really attracted me - after all, I was keen to recapture that after work drinks vibe and Aluna is very much catering to that kind of crowd. Arriving a bit late to meet a friend, I totally felt that special excitement that comes with downing tools at the end of a long day and knowing a really nice drink is waiting for you at the bar.

At Aluna, though, the drinks really are rather special. A quick scan of the cocktail menu had me immediately calling on the services of our friendly waitress to explain the weird and wonderful-sounding options, from cocktails 'from the cauldron' to 'vaccines and potions' - pretty out there, no?! 

You can get more familiar cocktails too - we played it safe first off with a classic Mojito which was delicious. But as our waitress explained some of the more unusual options on offer (a 'Colour Changing Martini', 'Demonic Delight' and 'Bubblegumtini' to name just a few) our interest was piqued and we both plumped for something in the 'molecular' range. 

A pretty normal sounding Pomegranate Cosmo turned out to be a glass of clear liquid, jumping with jellified pomegranate and bubbles - essentially like drinking a lava lamp. They're the kind of drinks you can't take too seriously as I found out when I casually gave mine a stir, whipping up a load of bubbles and spurting myself with liquid in the process. 

I would say the focus at Aluna is perhaps more on drinks than food - the menu is eclectic which is something I struggle with a bit as a diner. It's a concept that works fine in a cheap 'n' cheerful, all-you-can-eat type venue like Za Za Bazaar but when I'm eating somewhere a little more expensive I always prefer a shorter, more focused menu. That said, the food at Aluna was competent - I enjoyed my vegetable spring roll starter though my massaman curry needed a bit more kick. 

But if you like a varied menu (and it is useful if you're out with a crowd and one person fancies Asian, another a burger, someone else a curry, for example) Aluna does have pretty much all bases covered - you can choose from steaks and grills to seafood linguine and Singapore noodles. 

The service is excellent, though we did visit on a relatively calm Tuesday evening - I can imagine this place might get a lot busier on a Thursday or Friday. Our waitress was charming and was more than happy to pose for us as we videoed her setting one of our cocktails alight (the appropriately named 'Bush Fire', a very unusual concoction of rum, sloe gin, raspberry and rosemary - this one was a real highlight of our evening.) 

With a brilliantly central location and really friendly, informed staff, Aluna is definitely doing the after works drink thing right. I mean, if you've had a hard day in the office, a pretty, bubbling concoction of vodka and pomegranate can't fail to help you put all thoughts of spreadsheets and stress out of your mind and bring a smile to your face...

For more information about Aluna, visit the website here.

I enjoyed a complimentary meal and cocktails at Aluna but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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