Luna Cafe is a sibling to the popular Toronto brunch spot by the same name, run by the same family.
While still serving coffee and brunch, this Luna is the first to do dinner service, incorporating the chef owner’s Mediterranean background.
There are almost too many flickering candles to count in the space absolutely dripping in mosaic tiling and stone.
A ramp leads to an open kitchen, communal table and patio oasis at the back.
The meal starts with complimentary lupini beans with a light pimento dressing, creamy, mild legumes with a waxy shell that can optionally be peeled off.
Start off with fresh farmer’s cheese ($5) topped with pimento paste, creamy and crumbly with a kick from the pimento, and perfect for spreading onto dense, slightly sweet Portuguese corn bread.
Spicy Portuguese shrimp ($12) are another simple selection from a list of petiscos, basically the Portuguese version of Spanish tapas. Served whole with the shell on, the juicy shrimp are brightened by lemon, chili and cilantro.
Spicy monkfish and shrimp rice ($50) is a staple stew here traditional to Azores that’s meant to be shared between at least two people.
Served in a giant stone pot, the rice is presented al dente so that it can continue to cook and soak up the stew’s juices without getting soggy, getting quite thick and almost risotto-like by the time the dish is polished off.
The monkfish is delicate and flavourful, shrimp and mussels the fresh seafood accompaniments for the day. The stew apparently owes its fragrance and comfort to the addition of homemade harissa as well as a secret spice blend.
An espresso chocolate mousse tart ($8) is so dense it sticks to your fork, overpowering richness cut with a refreshing creme and tart raspberries.
A gin spritz ($12) sounds underwhelming but dazzles in the same low-key way as everything here, a combination of Bombay and Aperol topped off with lime and champagne.
Brunch is comprised of the usual coffee (custom roasted by Reunion Island), wraps, bennies, hashes and the like with lots of options. The family-friendly restaurant opens at 9 a.m., with a brief break between lunch and dinner from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. during which the space operates only as a cafe.