Friday night saw us enjoying fresh, modern, creative Thai cuisine in a gorgeous setting. But first, COCKTAILS!
A Golden Triangle at Longrain's Bar
44 Little Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000
Longrain is a funky restaurant and bar located on Little Bourke Street, right opposite Shark Fin. I was extremely lucky to be taken here by 2 of my best friends, Adri and George, for an early-birthday celebration on Friday night. They don't take dinner bookings for groups of less than 6, so we just rocked up at about 8, put our names on the list, and sat down to enjoy a cocktail and check out the place.
Golden Triangle, Spiced Cashews, Apple Juice
The Golden Triangle cocktail was seriously good - muddled ruby grapefruit segments and strawberry pieces sat amongst the alcohol and ice. It was refreshing and slightly sweet, a great pre-dinner drink. There is no way that roasted cashews could not be good, and the salty spice on these ones made them all the more addictive.
The interior is very impressive. As you enter, you turn right into a narrow corridor leading to the bar, which opens onto the general dining area. In the corridor, there are a couple of booths set into the wall with private dining tables. The bar is in the centre of the restaurant, sitting between the dining area on the left, and the cocktail lounge on the right. You can see the open kitchen through the back wall of the restaurant, which doubles as a feature wall, covered in gorgeous shimmering green tiles. It looks like a mermaid's tail. I'd want tiles just like that in the foyer of my imaginary future Venetian villa. Very, very cool.
We had to wait about 30 minutes to get to our table, which wasn't bad going considering that we rocked up at one of their busiest times.
The food came pretty quickly, and is in generous portions, for sharing. We had rice and 3 dishes - soft shell crab, squid salad, and kingfish.
Adri just had to order the soft-shell crab, because her friend Peter said "it's like an orgasm in your mouth!" I actually think her main reason for choosing Longrain as my birthday venue was to sample the infamous soft-shell crab. No complaints here!
The dish consisted of 2 crabs, each halved and deep-fried to crispy perfection, served with a sticky-sweet sauce, and some cubes of crunchy, sweetly roasted pork.
The squid salad contained the elements of a regular Thai, executed with great skill. I adored the combination of the intensely fresh tasting herbs and vegetables, tender squid and the vibrant, sharp, and hot dressing.
Kingfish topped with green curry, eggplant and peas.
From the menu description, we thought that this Kingfish dish would be a regular green curry, but we were mistaken. As you can (sort of) see in the photo, the dish consists of a generously sized kingfish fillet, topped with a flavourful paste of green curry and eggplant, with a few peas as well. The whole lot was blanketed in deep-fried and crunchy basil leaves. Absolutely gorgeous.
Of course, the big cool warehousey bar vibe has its drawbacks. The 3 of us, seated next to each other on a large round communal table, found it hard to talk to each other - I was sitting in the middle, and constantly had to lean back or pass messages between us. This was exacerbated by the incredible noise levels in the place. The large space and hard floors, combined with loud music and general busy atmosphere made it impossible to talk without shouting. By the end of the night I had a sore throat from all the yelling. (And the spicy food!)
Adri: Hey, this soft shell crab is great!
Me: ADRI SAYS... this SOFT... SHELL... CRAB... IS GREAT... purple monkey dishwasher!
... and so on.
The service was good and efficient, if a bit perfunctory. But I think that this is because of the nature of the booking system, the sequence of service and the high turnover, and not a fault of the waiters and waitresses themselves.
But apart from the noise levels, the dinner was delicious and we had a great time. The food was amazing. I really want to bring my family here, as I know my parents would love the food, and my brother would love the slick decor. My dad is often disappointed by the quality of Thai restaurants around town. I'd probably bring them for lunch though, as it wouldn't be so noisy, and you can make bookings for lunch.
Massive thanks to Adri and George for a fab evening!! Have an awesome trip guys!
EDIT: Tee-hee-hee! Looks like I'm not the only one who noticed how noisy it is inside Longrain. In today's Epicure (22nd April 2008), they made a list of noisy restaurants, and Longrain was the noisiest of the ones they listed, with a decibel reading of 87.6 at 9:30pm on a Thursday!!