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New Luna Chef Retains Creative Menu

Fri., Sept. 22, 1995

Luna at 57th Avenue and Perry

When Luna’s original chef, the young and highly creative Abby Yerxa, left for Seattle last January, some foodies wondered whether the stylish restaurant could maintain its inventive momentum.

Reports sifted back to me from a few diners disappointed with the changing of the guard, but during recent visits, I was delighted to find the food still among the most imaginative in Spokane.

Under chef Brett Fontana, the restaurant is a shining example of the huge strides this town has made toward embracing big-city tastes.

Fontana, who was previously at the Spokane Country Club, honed his culinary skills at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and then in Switzerland for a year.

Luna also recently added Meg Rychel-Edwards to the kitchen team. She has impressive credentials from San Francisco eateries including Postrio and worked briefly at Fugazzi. She’ll be upscaling the lunch menu and handling the restaurant’s catering.

On Luna’s summer menu, Fontana deftly demonstrates a penchant for combining unusual ingredients. For instance, there’s a pizza piled with black beans, carmelized onions and goat cheese and topped with a crunchy ginger slaw. It was different and delicious.

At a recent dinner, six of us gave the place a big thumbs-up.

I was enamored with one of the nightly specials - a fresh grilled tuna filet served with a creamy rice dish that was subtly seasoned with orange essence. (One diner didn’t like the rice’s texture, though, and likened the mixture to wallpaper glue.)

Around the table, others raved about the rich pesto-Gorgonzola rigatoni, the nicely seasoned sauteed prawns and the grilled tofu with scrumptious mashed potatoes and a tangy chipolte vinaigrette. (The excellent Small Planet tofu can be substituted for meat on most entrees.)

I appreciated the effort made in coming up with different creative side dishes for each entree. New York steak is served with scalloped potatoes, for example. Grilled chicken comes with creamy polenta and grilled veggies and tofu is served with a tempting-sounding cucumber and pine nut couscous.

Another visit for Sunday brunch was equally successful.

After an ultra-rich spinach frittata, I wasn’t hungry for the rest of the day.

My husband enjoyed his breakfast quesedilla, stuffed with scrambled eggs and black beans, which had been cooked al dente, not to a complete mush like some restaurants do.

Aside from the interesting food, I like Luna’s bright, pretty atmosphere, though the noise level can be deafening when it’s busy.

I also love reading through one of the city’s best wine lists, which has a great selection of some obscure Italian and French wines along with Northwest and California favorites.

My only complaint with Luna involves an isolated incident with a server. An otherwise fine waiter disappointed me when he referred to the customers at our table as “girls.” I don’t think it’s cute or flattering to call grown women “girls.” Also, ixnay on referring to customers as “guys” as in “are youse guys ready to order yet?” But, hey, that’s just a pet peeve.

For reservations at Luna, call 448-2383.

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