First Look: Luna reopens in the heart of Dublin, two years after its abrupt closure

L’Gueuleton owner Declan O’Regan takes over and brings in head chef Ben Dineen

First Look: Luna, next to Drury Street car park in central Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

First Look: Luna, next to Drury Street car park in central Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Luna, the Italian restaurant next to the Drury Street car park in Dublin 2 that John Farrell opened in 2015 and closed four years later, has reopened under new ownership. Declan O’Regan’s company Telfer, which also operates Hogan’s Bar and L’Gueuleton restaurant, acquired the property some time ago. Ben Dineen, head chef at L’Gueuleton, will lead the kitchen.

The restaurant has been subtly reworked, but the decor and the name remain the same. “It’s his daughter’s name, so we really didn’t want to take it off the wall. It was a wonderful thing, and a beautiful place. John Farrell had put a lot of effort, time and love into it, and we didn’t want to desecrate that. We wanted to bring it back but do a few tweaks – and hope that it will work for us,” Dineen says. “We acknowledge that Luna was a great restaurant before, and many eyes will be on us. We want to create a warm, intimate and exciting environment and let our food to do the talking.”

First Look: Luna. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The menu, which is Italian accented but with what Dineen describes as cosmopolitan touches, is broken down into Piccolo (small plates), Primi (starters), Mare (fish) and Terra (poultry, meat and vegetables). There is also a nine-course tasting menu (€79). Fresh pasta and focaccia are being made daily in-house. Irish suppliers are name-checked, including McLoughlins, M&K and Jane Russell for meats, Wrights of Marino for fish, Keelings for vegetables, Little Cress Microgreens, La Rousse and Italicatessen for dry goods and dairy, and Lilliput for olives, oil and cheese.

Although the room looks much the same as it did it its previous incarnation, a lot of work was done behind the scenes, including plumbing, electrical and fire-safety upgrades. In addition, the open kitchen has been doubled in size, and is now set up for counter dining. “The boss” – O’Regan – “has this idea of extending the drama into the restaurant from the kitchen, to have the passion and the sounds and the smells and the smoke spilling into the restaurant,” Dineen says.

The cocktail bar has been retained, and the commodious leather booth seating remains in place. A lift has been added to make the venue fully accessible.

First Look: Luna head chef Ben Dineen. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna head chef Ben Dineen. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna’s halibut with prawn bisque, langoustine, truffle and cauliflower. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
First Look: Luna’s halibut with prawn bisque, langoustine, truffle and cauliflower. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Dineen, who has been head chef at L’Gueuleton for the past three years, has moved to the Luna kitchen but will still have oversight at the other restaurant. “I’ve put every waking minute into L’Gueuleton since I took over, three years ago. I’ve built an amazing team over there. I’m really focusing on this now. I’m going to give this everything.”

Front of house will be managed by Sabrina Brun, formerly at John Farrell’s 777.

The restaurant is open for walk-ins today and tomorrow. Its website will go live on Monday, and reservations will be available from Tuesday.

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