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Apr 17, 2011 01:23 PM

La Luna Queen Anne

Okay, it is REALLY early days for this new Mexican spot on Queen Anne. La Luna is on the corner of Boston / QA Ave in the former Flow, Opal spot. We went last night; their second dinner service.

It is kind of a confused spot. They didn't do too much of a remodel, added a fireplace and a bunch of (5 huge) TVs. I don't really get it and find all of those TVs too distracting - but too each his own :).

Really nice folks and nice ambiance (except the aforementioned televisions). I like the addition of the fireplace but I don't get the small tables along the curved wall which are too short to comfortably eat at; everyone sitting there looked awkward.

I will assume that the long wait for questions to be answered, drinks to be made and food to come out of the kitchen will all be fixed with a little experience under their belts. The drinks were good and the food was well presented. We had chips and guacamole to start. Guacamole isn't on the menu at all which I've got to think is just an oversight.

And by the way, does anyone actually prefer tri color chips to just fresh warm white or yellow corn tortilla chips? I've never really liked red or blue/black chips and the chips here were no exception.

Between the three of us we ordered the peanut chicken, Carne Asada Verde Enchilada and the Carnitas. All of the dishes were good and held the promise of being better with practice. And since this is only their second night open we'll forgive that the peanut chicken suffered for not having enough sauce and the Carnitas should be served with tortillas (and they should be at least a little crispy).

The dessert menu was too long, offered too many custard-y choices and no chocolate to speak of.

All the tables were full when we left; I hope those folks come back and give them another try when they get the kinks worked out. It would be nice to have this interesting (and did I mention how reasonably priced it is?) and fun place stay around for a while.

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  1. Went Sunday night and had some issues, too. The televisions *are* extremely odd and distracting. It would be one thing if they were only turned on for big soccer games or whatever, but we were treated to a mishmash of random Sunday night television. Tyler whathisface from Extreme Makeover is about the last person in America we want joining us for a quiet Sunday evening out. It would be more tolerable if there just weren't so darn many---it's difficult to find a seat without multiple screens in your sightline. And they just feel so out of place in what is a fairly sophisticated room.

    Both the back of the house and front of the house had some problems. In front, it was never clear who our server was, which was only an issue because service was slow and it wasn't clear who we should be flagging down. The bartender took our drink and food orders, but only came back to bring a second round we had to order by grabbing the attention of a second staffer, and then to bring our check after we had grabbed the attention of a third staffer for a to-go box. It was probably a solid 20 minutes between when we last touched our food and when we were able to snag a to-go box. Was never clear if the bartender was supposed to take care of the table or if he was just helping out where he could. I don't need or want the whole "Hi, my name is X and I'll be your server tonight" routine, but I do like to have a sense of whose responsibility I am.

    The food came out fast and cold and poorly timed. Our app, queso al carbon with apple compote and roasted beets, arrived before our flatware and napkins (and then we actually only received one napkin---were promised a second that never came). The dish itself was kinda a confused mess. The skewered cheese was barely lukewarm. Parts of the apple compote required cutting. The sliced beets were fine, if a little lost off to the side. When you managed to put the three together, it was actually a very nice combination, but it was a bit of work for a shared plate in the middle of the table, especially since we weren't given small individual plates. I'd recommend losing the skewers and making nice manageable bites, with a sliced beet base supporting a (hot) cheese cube, compote spooned over both.

    For entrees we ordered the camarones al diablo and the pollo-stuffed enchiladas in mole with a pineapple-mango salsa. They arrived *maybe* three minutes after our appetizer. Both were lukewarm at best. A shame, as the flavors were actually quite good. I also had to request a side of tortillas, which to me is a given with a saucy entree. The tortillas came out steaming, but without so much as a cloth napkin to cover them quickly went cold.

    Drinks were tasty, but overpriced and a tad weak. At $10-$12, we were expecting shaken and strained cocktails, not tumblers half full of ice. Next time we'll stick with beer.

    Didn't have dessert.

    In all, if they can get the service figured out and put out hot food in a well-timed manner La Luna will be a nice addition to the top of the hill. We'll be back sometime in the summer to see how things are progressing. As cburnsi mentioned, the food is very nicely priced---I think $8-$14 for entrees. For now we'd recommend heading across the street to Ototo, or just sitting at the beautiful outside tables with fireplace centerpieces for some people-watching, beers, and chips-and-salsa.

    PS, cburnsi: the tri-color chips you abhor seem to be gone. Ours were all yellow and freshly fried. Very nice. As was the salsa itself.

    1. I was also there this past Sunday night. Overall the restaurant seems very confused. As others have reported, it's got TVs like a sports bar, decor like an upscale fine dining bar given the open fire and left over style from Opal, but it serves lower priced food. The televisions make for a distracting dining experience interrupted by flashing lights. It has elements of both a low energy and high energy dining experience and therefore succeeds at neither. The owners should pick one concept and stick with it.

      In addition, there was a live classical guitarist that night. So in total: live guitar music, big screen TVs with sports and primetime junk flashing at you, open flames and fine dining decor. As I said, the concept is confused and the owners could really employ the "less is more" theory.

      Similarly, the price point would suggest it would be family friendly, but I think maybe only 30-40% of the seating would be suitable for younger kids. Kids would find it very hard to sit on their low, low banquette (I felt like the table was approaching my chin) against the eastern wall and then of course the tables that have built in gas fire centerpieces or the tables near the open flame gas fireplace are obvious not kid friendly.

      Service: Pretty good. The server was attentive though sometimes it took a while for us to get her attention. The water glasses were filled at reasonable intervals.

      Drink service: So-so. They were out of several taps. The server offered me a tasting of a beer which took forever to arrive. Then the full beer I ordered again took time and arrived warm which the server admitted was not the intended state.

      Food: Pretty good, but not amazing. Had the carnitas pork tacos and chicken mole enchiladas. Both were fine and we enjoyed it. The food arrived in reasonable time.

      Chips & Salsa: A low point. The chips are not made in house I was told and were greasy as they were recently fried which is probably ok. However, every other one was stale, actually chewy stale (or under fried?). It must have been a fresh batch mixed in with an old batch, but whatever the cause it was not enjoyable. The salsa was unremarkable.

      Overall, I would certainly get take-out from La Luna and may do so soon, but right now it would not be my first choice for a dine-in experience, certainly not if I was looking for intimacy, but not even to have a talk with friends.

      2 Replies
      1. re: skyla

        You must have had the tall blond. She seemed like the server to have.

        I had really hoped they were going to knock out the partition separating the dais from the rest of the room, replacing the whole thing with end-to-end stairs. Would make the whole space much more logical and open, and would finally get rid of that silly curved low bench where no one ever wants to sit.

        Yes, it broke my heart they were out of the Ninkasi IPA. Didn't realize they were out of others...they only had four or five to begin with---counting Bud Light! The guitarist was actually very good, I just think everyone---including the guitarist---would have been happier if he weren't effectively playing a live score for Desperate Housewives.

        1. re: eight_inch_pestle

          They were also out of Negra Modelo on tap in addition to the IPA and the Pacifico that I eventually ordered arrived a little under room temperature.

          I think so regarding the server. She was very nice.

          My friend who is over 6 feet tall also mentioned that he could not sit at several of the flame tables on the patio because the ground is sloped and so the tables slope accordingly making one side shorter than the other. As the vertically challenged of the two of us, I'm not sure I'd want to sit on the down end of a leaning flame table, but granted, I haven't tried it. They do look cool from afar.