While those aforementioned venues are co-owned and co-run with husband Roman Tazhdynov, Luna is Tazhdynova’s first venture with friend and pastry chef Olga Baranova. “Olga’s the morning person, with her trade,” says Tazhdynova. “I’m the night one, but I don’t mind waking up early and having different customers to our [other venues]. And making their day a bit better at the start, rather than the end.”
The Pulteney Street site (previously Kong's Kitchen) has been stripped back and a wall dividing the kitchen and dining area knocked down. The result is an open and minimal space, with one long communal table running down the centre of the room. The timber bench was built by Tazhdynov (he also built the shelves), and similar to the kitchen island in the couple's own home.
“Basically, we’re welcoming you into our kitchen,” says Tazhdynova. “The idea is that everyone sits together – as much as we can in a Covid-safe environment,” she adds. “It’s the same space for the customers and us – there’s no separation or bar as such – so it’s a bit more homey. At home, when my friends come and visit and I’m still cooking, they’ll sit and chat with me … so I’m excited to bring that [here].”
Baranova reiterates the community-minded nature of the cafe; she used to live on Halifax Street so knows the area well, and she hopes to provide a meeting place for residents of the south-east corner of the city. “It’s a really nice spot – I love this street and the neighbourhood. And we have a very good friend next door at Bar Peripheral,” says Baranova. (Adding to the family vibes, Bar Peripheral co-owner Vini Wang used to work at Suzie Wong.)
Until now, Baranova has been working at the Playford Hotel, which now operates as a medi-hotel. Cooking for quarantined travellers meant her connection with customers was lost, so she’s looking forward to a bit of face-time at Luna. “I love people and talking to people and I want to do it a bit more, because I don’t have the chance now,” she says.
She’ll start each day in the kitchen – baking bread, sweet and savoury brioche, and pastries such as croissants, danishes, tarts, puff pastries, madeleines and more – before working the floor. Tazhdynova will also work service before moving across to her other venues.
Beyond Baranova’s pastries (and house-made ice cream), the menu will stick to cafe staples – eggs, salmon, avo on toast, a big breakfast, lunch bowls, and coffee by Segafredo. Despite the popularity of Russian menu items such as those dumplings at Red October, there are no plans for such dishes at Luna – yet. “Not for now, although we’ve had people texting and asking us,” says Tazhdynova. “If there is a demand, then why not.”
By night, the cafe will transform into a cosy wine bar, with a drink list curated by the Uraidla Hotel’s Owen Colin. Chef Alberto Cardozo e Silva, who was previously shuffling pans at Red October, specialises in charcuterie, which will inform the evening menu. Expect around 50 bottles of mostly local, small-batch drops, paired with plates of cheese, cured meats and pickles.
Once the liquor license kicks in, Tazhdynova and Baranova will also offer high tea on weekends.
Cafe Luna will open at 449a Pulteney Street, Adelaide on February 8. The wine bar will open in mid-March.