Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mayoral candidate chef Paul Luna: 'I'll never stop cooking.'

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Paul Luna in the kitchen at Lunacy Black Market

My Friday night dining friends have been at it about two years now. We've visited so many restaurants, we're making occasional repeats now. One of our first restaurants to visit was Lunacy Black Market. Unless you've been hiding under a food truck the last year, you know that owner-chef Paul Luna is running for mayor in this year's election. Meanwhile, he's been fighting City Hall over a number of issues.

But what about the three-year-old restaurant?

Not a whole lot has changed. The restaurant retains its homey feel. We sat on a cluster of upholstered furniture around a coffee table. Luna has taken the unusual step of hiring employees from juvenile detention facilities and women's shelters. You won't notice, which should tell us all something.

There was no written menu Friday night. Dinner, $35 each, was a series of small plates that Luna describes as "uninspired cuisine," meaning that it's straightforward, "not fussy." I lost count of the number of plates sent to the table.

I did find the flow of dinner quite staccato. We received two servings of each dish, some of them not adequate for six people, most providing a single taste for each of us. A sense of panic came over us each time there was a lengthy wait between courses early on. Were we done? Would we ever get enough to eat? Hell yes, we did. We were quite waddle-worthy by the meal's end, which was a long time coming.

The dishes were the usual mash-up of flavors from around the world: meaty little Asian-style ribs, arancini-like rice cakes, chicken with cumin, green and purple slaw with dots of pungent blue cheese and tart lemon. On and on it went until a display of petit fours worthy of the Mad Hatter arrived.

One interesting observation: Much of the food seemed intensely salty on first taste. Everyone noted that. But the saltiness, like the first note of a song, almost instantly dissolved as other flavors arose. Whether Luna is experimenting with new salts, I have no idea.

I recommend you get reservations (404-736-6164) if possible. Lunacy is open for dinner only, closed Monday and Tuesday. Luna assured us, by the way, that he will not stop cooking when he becomes mayor.

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