Food columnist and journalism freshman Kristine Xu gives us the dish on Luna Red this week. “I would only recommend Luna Red for special occasions because of the expensive dishes and small portions,” she said.
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Kristine Xu is a journalism freshman and Mustang News food columnist.
I could sense the tension in the residence halls and the unceremonious start to dead week. With dark circles and mountains of work awaiting me back home, I escaped from campus for a couple hours to enjoy a relaxing meal downtown, far away from any responsibilities.
Since the beginning of winter quarter, I have spent more time roaming around downtown, especially near Mission Plaza and the surrounding areas. I was lured into Luna Red because of its sprawling outdoor seating, warm lamps and bright patio furniture. For a moment, I was transported into an atmosphere completely separate from the college environment I spent the past quarter immersing myself into.
Luna Red features European-style dining and emphasizes ordering multiple dishes to share a family-style meal. Since I forgot to make reservations, the hostess led me to the outdoor cabana-style bar near the sidewalk on Chorro Street and left me to browse through the menu of eloquently described dishes.
Armed with my bulky school backpack and frumpy T-shirt, I felt a little out of place beside the crackling fire pit, decadent entrees and clink of delicate wine glasses. Regardless, the service during my meal was first-class. After clarifying a couple terms on the menu, I placed my order and waited for my food.
Right as my mind started wandering, a server came out of the main building with a small ceramic bowl of mini macaroni and cheese. I knew the servings were going to be small, so I savored each bite to make the portion last longer.
Photo by Kristine Xu
I enjoyed picking apart the mess of cheese, bacon, grilled onion, basil and tender macaroni. The consistency of the dish was less stringy and more like cream, coating all the ingredients in an even layer of cheese. The pasta was tenderly cooked and seasoned to perfection, leaving a barely noticeable spicy sensation in my mouth.
I like to eat whatever macaroni and cheese I can find in the dining halls because sometimes it’s the only kind I can get. Unfortunately, after I tried Luna Red’s rendition, I knew there was no going back. I scraped the last of the cheese from the bottom of the bowl, placing the bowl back on the plate and desperately wishing for more.
Fortunately, another server stopped by to swap dishes for me. I ordered the crab ravioli, served on a bed of thyme-roasted tomato sauce and topped with a generous dollop of sweet cream mascarpone. Each ravioli square was bursting with soft crab filling and wrapped in a layer of chewy pasta, reminding me of the large, floppy wontons my mom used to make.
Photo by Kristine Xu
I dipped one of the raviolis into the tomato sauce before biting into the creamy texture of the crab filling, enjoying the tenderness of the pasta and the amalgamation of flavors. I finished the rest of the raviolis in a similar fashion, leaving only a little bit of the tomato sauce and dried spinach in the bowl.
I found myself enjoying my food more as the meal progressed, due to a combination of the sun setting and the low lighting of the outdoor seating. In addition, the servers were patient with my numerous questions about the menu and brought everything in a timely fashion.
I would only recommend Luna Red for special occasions because of the expensive dishes and small portions. This restaurant is meant for someone who is looking for a dining experience, rather than somoene who wants to satisfy their hunger. Regardless, I hope I can find an excuse in the near future to return and enjoy the restaurant’s famous cheese plates, excellent service and culinary expertise at this global tapas restaurant.