LUNA

2-3 Drury Street
Dublin 2
Phone: 01 679 9009

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Luxurious and louche, all low lights and New York in 1955. You feel like propping up the bar with a very dry martini in one hand and king size Chesterfield in the other.

There’s nowhere quite like Luna. Certainly not in Ireland; possibly not anywhere. This is possibly because it comes out of the imagination of John Farrell, a restaurateur who understands that eating out is enhanced by a touch of theatre but only if the fundamentals – cooking, service, the experience on the plate – are flawless.

In as compact a nutshell as I can manage, Luna is essentially Italian in its cosmopolitan accent, a subterranean restaurant with clever, flattering lighting, a long and beautiful retro-style bar and a touch of the louche that almost demands a haze of 1950s cigarette smoke and some of the characters from Mad Men.

See what I mean about theatre? Step into Luna and you step out of contemporary Dublin and into something… certainly more stylish, possibly more glamourous. But most importantly, at least for someone like me, somewhere with all those attributes and impeccable cooking, now in the expert hands of Vish Sumputh, formerly of Chapter One.

I once repaired here after a trying few weeks, a period which I found hard to realise was over and done with. I was on my own and between the fresh pasta with truffles and the discreet care of Dublin’s ultimate maître d’, Declan Maxwell, I found myself fully restored an hour or two later. Yes, Luna is holistic in that sense.

It’s a refuge from a less pleasant world. Luna is dark, low-ceilinged, full of banquettes and booths, with a carpet that was specially commissioned for its retro design, salvaged green tiles of a shade that has not been made since around the time I was born and, almost altar-like, the back-lit bar, a shrine to Campari and gin.

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Passers-by can look in at the big window and gaze down upon this decadent scene; it’s almost like a big screen, seen from the street; and it makes people want to descend the steps, have a snifter at the bar and then adjourn to a table where they eat by the light of those little frilly lamps that go with champagne cocktails and cigarette smoke.

So, I think I’ve made it clear that this place is (a) carefully thought out and (b) unique, which is what we have come to expect of John Farrell (think Dillinger’s, The Butcher Grill, 777).

In terms of the cooking, it’s luxurious but simple and the wine list is very contemporary with an Italian emphasis. There’s a strong sense of identity in both. This is a restaurant that knows exactly what it’s doing.