I first went to Longrain at its original establishment in Sydney back in the day. For quite a few years it has had a sister in Melbourne, which I’ve been to semi-regularly. I’ve even been to the Balinese offshoot, Sarong, which is stunning!
Step back to, at the time, one of the coolest restaurants in Australia. The bar (read waiting area) at this Surry Hills Thai restaurant was buzzing and we almost didn’t want to go to our table once called. The food was brilliant, modern and amazing quality; the dining was communal (ahead of its time but now almost expected); and the temperature was hot!
Originally, I was a little disappointed with the sister in the cool back end of the city in Melbourne. There was no buzz in the bar, the dishes were expected (still good, but not exciting), and brought nothing of the sister’s attitude or pizzazz.
These days I feel differently. I realised late last year that it does have a wow factor for visitors. I realised that it is far easier to get into than Chin Chin with similar quality food, but still has a certain charm and cool about it.
So my wife, Catherine and I turned to Longrain for a relatively quick meal before some RoofTop Cinema action (Wolf of Wall St).
Being a Saturday night we expected a wait but the nice thing about the bar here is that you can snack and have a pre-dinner drink. We waited for about 20 odd minutes, enjoying some crab based betel leaves ($6 each) which were tasty but a bit on the small side, and shared some skewers that were delicious (3 for $13).
Once we were seated on one of the communal tables we quickly ordered a couple of dishes and plenty of steamed jasmine rice. The green curry with blue eye fish is a great dish – terrific amount of spice with a nice point of difference using blue eye. I love the richness of flavour in this curry which is nicely balanced. The beef cheek with classic lime, chilli and mint was of equally high quality. Done properly, beef cheek is one of my favourite meats. It soaks up the sauce and the fattiness dissolves through the meat making it incredibly tender if patiently cooked. There were a few times where we could have done with some more waitstaff. However, these days the attitude is not as overpowering making it a more comfortable place to dine.
While it isn’t cheap (the curries are around $40), Longrain continues to do a great job and is part of a stable, still exciting, modern Thai movement that is now a relative institution. Places like Gingerboy, Chin Chin and Longrain make me feel lucky to live in Melbourne.