Photo by Maria C. Ascarrunz

Y’all must remember Luna Park, right?  I think it only closed in 2015, and has sat empty all these years.  My memory is that it had gone downhill from its heyday, even though it seemed to be a much-loved neighborhood fixture.  I was therefore surprised to see it reopening this summer, albeit sans the “Park.” 

These are new owners — the group that owns Wayfare Tavern in the FiDi — but they decided to keep the “Luna” and the old signage, for nostalgia’s sake.  I get it; the comfort of things that remain the same is vital right about now.  The new Luna seems to have some of the same tavern trappings as the old Luna Park, with offerings like burgers, mac and cheese, wedge salad, roast chicken, and a peach cobbler.  

A friend and I started out with cocktails on a glorious summer day.  There appears to be quite a boon of restaurants that have jumped on the non-alcoholic cocktail bandwagon, and Luna is no exception.  

My friend got the Australian 75 “mocktail,” made with Lyre’s Classico sparkling and Lyre’s dry “gin.”  I had a refreshing sip of hers and enjoyed my BitterSweet, a lively concoction of gin, Aperol, aloe, egg white and dried rose petals.

For our first appetizer, we shared the watermelon feta salad.

Watermelon salad.

The watermelon came topped with feta (a natural accompaniment), ribbons of fennel, and what seemed to be a pepita granola in a sweet chili dressing.  It was an odd mixture, with lots of textures. Not terrible, but not my favorite watermelon/feta salad (i.e., would not order it again.)

Next up, the buttermilk fried burrata.

Buttermillk fried burrata with egg.

If you get nothing else on Luna’s menu, get this. The burrata (hidden here) seemed to be lightly breaded, fried, and sat atop a puddle of romesco sauce, a bright, red pepper and almond sauce from Spain, drizzled with aged balsamic, and the whole thing topped by a fried egg.  I’m in the camp that says, put a fried egg on anything and call me happy, but this was exceptional.  The combination of the creamy, slightly crispy cheese and the runny egg yolk blending with the peppery sauce and sweet vinegar was irresistible.  The only thing missing was bread to sop it all up.  It was plate-licking good.

My friend ordered the organic roasted chicken for her main, after asking our server her preference between that and the mushroom Bolognese.  “Oh, the chicken,” was the immediate response.  

Roasted chicken.

The chicken turned out to be breast meat roulades stuffed a la Cordon Bleu, served over a wild rice pilaf.  We both found it rather dry and, looks aside, dull, although the chicken jus on the plate saved the dish from being too Saharan.  My friend liked the rice well enough.  

We also split an order of buttermilk fried hen of the woods mushrooms.

Buttermilk fried hen of the woods.

A disappointment, being battered and thus having no earthy mushroom flavor whatsoever.  Not everything has to be buttermilk fried, people!  Our server said the sauce was a chili sauce, but it was rather sweet.  

I opted for the steak frites for my main course.

Steak frites.

The steak, in true bavette fashion, was a bit chewy, but flavorful, helped by the addition of the compound butter.  The frites were more like wedges, and tasty enough sprinkled with truffled parmesan.  The green sauce was ostensibly a charred green chimichurri but lacked any real char flavor.  All in all, however, not a bad dish.

I’d expected a bit more from a group associated with Wayfare, but perhaps they’re just getting their feet wet.  A good brasserie is something the Mission needs.  Despite the missteps, I’m hoping they can elevate the genre and become a real neighborhood destination.

Luna (website)
694 Valencia St.

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  1. I enjoyed my recent dinner there – service was fantastic, noise was not bad, and my food was delicious. I highly recommend the heritage pork chop, it was the winning entree of my party.

  2. “the group that owns Wayfare Tavern in the FiDi” What praytell is “FiDi”? Signed , native daughter

  3. Unfortunately, they have retained the ear-splitting volume indoors. Previous trips had left me with my ears ringing, my recent visit there was no different. Sit outside if you can.

  4. Totally agree that the food here is just a bit lacking. It feels both a bit dated and lacking in finesse. I guess a disagree that this is surprising given the association with Wayfare (because I feel the same way about Wayfare).

    The staff was super friendly but that only goes so far when you have much, much better food and drink just down the street at Chezchez.

    1. Totally agree with you, but will only comment that Wayfare Tavern used to be a lot better. When my wife and I were then dating, she brought me there roughly 10 years back and although it didn’t blow me away – it was quality. She would say one of the reasons is that despite owning multiple restaurants, Tyler Florence would often drop by, and ensure a certain standard.

      Fast forward to the pandemic era… we went back earlier this year for the first time since that initial outing. Wow. What a complete 180. Everything from the burger to the fried chicken to the drinks and the popovers. Just utter mediocrity at best. Underseasoned. Soul-less. Servers that ignore you. It’s hard not to root for places trying to survive during the pandemic, but if you don’t care – it shows in your food, and in turn – I stop caring as a now former-customer.