I recently visited Aluna in The Mailbox to try the cocktails, but last week I ventured back to sample the food. Having recently launched a new winter menu, I was excited to revisit the canal side bar and restaurant to try some of the Thai style dishes I’d heard about.
The restaurant side of the venue is plush, warm and inviting; ideal when you turn up jittering from the cold. Crushed rust and turquoise velvet envelopes chairs and booths, with walls adored with glitzy frames and jewels. It’s jazzy and deliberately a little over the top, but is a vibrant setting for dinner.
The winter menu offers salads, grills such as fillet steaks and burgers but, being that the same brains behind Siamais in Brindleyplace head up Aluna, I was definitely trying the Pan-Asian dishes available. If you’ve been to Siamais you may find some of the choices familiar, but there’s plenty of variation and something for everyone.
To start, a pretty plate of Malay Butter Prawns (£6.95) made its way to the table. King prawns tossed in a light buttermilk crumb, they were juicy and cooked well. The additional zingy ginger, firey red chilli and aromatic curry leaves provided a subtle hum of heat, and a sprinkling of spring onion brought colour and freshness.
Teriyaki Salmon Steak (£17.95) proved to be a simple but tasty choice, albeit with a fairly flush price tag it has to be said. The just-cooked pan fried salmon fillet was hardy enough to stand up to the robust teriyaki sauce, and came with a decent portion of steamed rice. The Japanese-inspired marinade of mirin, garlic and soy sauce was thick without being claggy and coated the pink fish like a sweet savoury glaze. A good main although not as memorable as the fragrant Red Thai Prawn Curry at sister restaurant Siamais, and perhaps a tad too sweet for my taste.
Despite being full I was persuaded to try a dessert, choosing Baked Custard with Lavender Biscuits (£5.75) before heading home. The herb infused shortbread provided interesting flavour, and the warm, just set custard had a crispy top that made it more like a creme brûlée. I was pleased with my choice as the fruity cheesecake that also arrived on the table didn’t appear homemade, and I suspect is bought in.
It was also nice to sample a cocktail or two. I enjoyed the Ginger Lemontini (£7.45) – Limoncello sweetened gin mixture with a sweet ginger rim – and the Bush Fire (£7.95). Old J is shaken with sloe gin and raspberries before being served on fire – this is Aluna afterall – with a flaming rosemary garnish.
For 7pm on a cold Thursday evening the place had a good buzz, and the atmosphere was relaxed making the meal enjoyable throughout. I’m trying the seared tuna salad if I return, as that looked divine across the table and friends reported it was enjoyable.
Aluna, The Mailbox, Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RQ
*Disclosure: I visited Aluna as a guest of Delicious PR and food was complementary. Opinions, photos and burning herbs are mine, and I was not obligated to write about the event*