Friday, 22 February 2013

Longrain Melbourne - Zeitgeist

Although I really enjoy Thai-inspired food, Longrain on Little Bourke Street managed to elude my custom until earlier in the week. Although I was given some apt inside advice to enjoy a few cocktails in the bar and wait for a seat in the section of the bar that serves food, which effectively allows you to avoid the communal table seating - something that I have never been to keen to do when not dining with a group in the evening, odd circumstances kept me from Longrain until recently.

When I presented myself at the restaurant with one other, the floor manager was happy to arrange a seat at the bar for a relaxing meal when one became available. In the meantime we were given a different seat at the bar so that we could enjoy tasty alcoholic beverages. It is curious that you are not permitted to order food on one side of the bar but you can on the opposite side. I am sure there is a good reason but I didn't bother asking since I was distracted by pleasant conversation and of course the speciality cocktails of the house.

Ultimately we were moved to new perches at the bar and were provided both the wine list and the dinner menu. The server was very keen to consult with us instead of just take our order. After spending a good three minutes with us talking about the menu, the various tastes that we were keen to experience and also the wine that we pondered matching with the forthcoming feast, we placed our order and I am confident that the ensuing positive experience was highlighted further by the time that he spent with us.

A green papaya salad with snake beans, peanuts and dried shrimp ($14.00) along with crispy son-in-law eggs ($14.00) made a refreshing and aromatic way to start the meal when matched with a very mild pinot noir from Oregon, USA. The produce was fresh and full of flavour and just as impressive when consumed with the red curry with seared duck breast, lychee, fresh bamboo and Siamese watercress ($38.50) and was especially tasty when the papaya salad was mixed up with the curry as an experiment. I was hell-bent on ordering this curry and I was not disappointed. The duck was tender and plentiful. There was some heat in the curry but it was nothing that would cause anyone discomfort. I am grateful that the server talked us out of ordering the jungle curry also as it would have overwhelmed the duck curry but it also gives me the opportunity to return to Longrain soon and try it out.

As the clock turned ticked, the dining room and the communal tables gradually filled up. Surprisingly there was not a lot of noise and the buzz simply made the experience more jovial. The seats at the bar are comfortable and service remained attentive and chatty.

This experience was the zeigeist of the last few weeks of dining. It was not only a pleasant surprise as cocktails, wine, food, service merged in an impressive way but there was also no bill shock when ultimately we left and took refuge at the Croft Institute. I am looking forward to returning to Longrain, either with a group to take advantage of the $65 p/p banquet that is on offer but certainly to experience the other unique editions on the wine menu that sommelier Sam Christie has devised.

Longrain received "one chefs hat" in The Age Good Food Guide.

Longrain, Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

Link to review
40-44 Little Bourke St  Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9671 3151
My Rating: 16.5/20
Service: 4.25/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Quality: 4/5
Value For Money: 4.25/5

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this post, 85% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like Longrain.

Longrain Melbourne on Urbanspoon