Experience No.030 in Australian Traveller’s 100 Greatest Australian Gourmet Experiences
Longrain head chef Martin Boetz started out by harassing Sydney Thai food master David Thompson for a work experience spot at Sailor’s Thai. That led to a job, and ultimately to management of the restaurant. It’s the career trajectory that seems synonymous with leading chefs: find your passion, eschew the money, follow the food and work with your heroes.
Martin left Sailor’s Thai, then after brief stints at Bird Cow Fish and as a private chef in New York, returned to Sydney to start Longrain in 1999. Established in a large warehouse-style space in a then-not-so-fashionable part of Surry Hills, the restaurant was a success. It also broke some rules for fine dining (no bookings; communal seating on long benches), and as a nod to the waits that this can entail, the restaurant has an appealing cocktail bar off to one side.
“A timely and relevant addition to Australia’s food culture.” – Alla Wolf-Tasker
But it works. The restaurant focuses on the freshest Australian produce treated in a Thai style, with the most popular dish the betel leaf with smoked trout. Loaded with Thai flavours from tamarind, chilli and baby shrimp, Martin says, “Every time I take it off the menu there’s outrage, so it has to stay on”.
Besides that, the menu is at the whim of Boetz, and will include adventurous dishes you simply don’t find in your local Thai restaurant. There’s rarely your humble Pad Thai, but there is delicious, subtly spiced braised beef shinbone, or a sticky pork hock.
The staff are excellent, deeply knowledgeable and indefatigably helpful, ensuring that your food selections have the right balance.
Where: 85 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills NSW. (02) 9280 2888, www.longrain.com
Did you know: Longrain has now opened a second restaurant in Melbourne, and appears to be garnering a reputation as formidable as the original Sydney restaurant.