My mother and I’s birthdays are separated by a mere few days, so this year we decided that family celebrations for the two events should be compressed together into a single dinner of awesome. I was entrusted with the choice of venue and was quite overwhelmed with the task, especially as since my sister Carly’s new beau is a chef who very conveniently seems to know everyone in the Melbourne food scene, it means that booking swanko places that are generally hard to get into for family dinners has suddenly become very easy* (seriously guys, get onto getting yourselves your own chef BF, the whole family benefits!).
Luckily Muffin had recently gone to Longrain with her own family and sent the longest and most amazing text message in the world detailing the fabulousness of her meal, and since I trust Muffin with my life I figured that I would trust her with restaurant recommendations. To Longrain, loved ones, let’s go!
The restaurant is in a gorgeous space, as you would expect, all greens and mahogany browns, and lordy, if you’re in a bigger group, make sure you get booked into one of the big, circular tables that are made of heavy dark timber. The entirety of the middle of these tables are beautiful stone lazy susans! Seriously, why don’t all tables come with a built-in lazy susan, we are living in the 21st century, we should be on top of this.
The table began with a round of the betel leaf starter, of which I got a special veggie version (once you let your waiter know that you’re a veggie, all of a sudden they let you know that there’s a ton of veggie versions of most dishes secretly available to you!). I was neglectful of taking note of exactly what was in it, but it was a fresh and juicy burst of veggies and herbs that was a very pleasing palate-preparer.
My entree proper was a veggie version of the eggnet salad filled with beansprouts, slivered chili, peanuts, all doused in mild, sweet vinegars, and with an amazing cucumber relish that my other sister Megan promptly stole from me. This was another burst of veggie freshness (everything at Longrain is permeated with clean, crisp, fresh flavours and textures), and I want to know how to create that eggnet, except that I’m afraid that my mother might one day come home to find me entangled in spools of egg. That would be awkward.
While the rest of the table ordered a round of about seven dishes between them to share (let me warn you that the serving sizes here are very large, you don’t need many dishes to fill you, but in my family we don’t do things by halves and insist on ordering half the menu), for my main I selected the salt and pepper silken tofu. Being one of my favourite dishes to order out, I had very high hopes that this dish would be a transcendent version. Expectations met! Silky smooth insides with a swoon-inducing crispy coating. There was definitely something interesting going on in the outer layer’s spicing that was a bit more complex than just plain salt and pepper, perhaps some five-spice power or some equally lip-puckering mix. The Chef BF attempted to get Carly to try some (“It’s good tofu, you’ll like it!”), only to be met by a shriek once she took a mouthful. “It’s burning, oh god it’s melting and burning, you’re trying to kill me!” Death by tofu, a noble end for vegetarians, evidently an embarrassing one for omnivores.
To counteract the fried nature of the tofu, I also ordered the Chinese broccoli with chilli and garlic. Seems unassuming, but good golly this was stupidly delicious. Not only was the broccoli itself good and crisp, the garlic and chilli sauce was all kinds of tasty goodness. I ended up pouring the excess sauce onto my brown rice and chomping away happily on it. Yet another dish that I had to beat Megan away from, she was intent on consuming ALL OF IT, which is very unusual considering it was a plate of vegetables.
Dessert time! Vanilla tapioca with jackfruit and a globe of deliciously soft watermelon sorbet on the side. This was a gentle way to finish the meal, the light sorbet releasing a refreshing taste of watermelon across the tongue, with the tapioca pudding providing possibly the freshest, lightest stodge food imaginable.
As for beverages, I had recently come off medication that had prevented me from drinking alcohol for a few weeks, and to get back on the tipsy train I broke my fast with a Manhattan, which is a long time favourite of mine and the drink I use to judge a cocktail maker’s metal. This one was pretty damn good, nice and strong (the first sip of a good Manhattan should make you gasp at least slightly), although I think it may have been shaken rather than stirred, which has a tendency to make the whole a touch too watery, but honestly that’s just my personal preference and in this case didn’t affect my enjoyment of it.
The Chef BF also chose a beautiful bottle of KT Melva Watervale riesling (I was negligent in noting the year I’m afraid, sorry wine aficionados) that he shared with the table. I’m a fan of riesling over any other wine variety to begin with, but this in particular was a fine specimen, with bubbling citrus topnotes and a smooth finish that leaves a very agreeable taste on the palate, it was a brilliant complementary accompaniment to the flavours of the food.
So in conclusion, Longrain is spectacularly badass, we all rolled out of there with our stuffed bellies feeling enormously pleased and contented with ourselves. While our very gluttonous experience may not be the best way for everyone to approach the place (you didn’t see the bill, OY VEY. Delicious but expensive times), but I’m very much looking forward to going back to sit at the bar and languorously throw back some more cocktails over a smaller selection of dishes.
44 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD
Ph: 9671 3151
*Disclaimer, yo: Just because the Chef BF helped to get the Blintz family a date with Longrain does not mean that we received any freebies or discounts, nor were staff aware that I was a blogger. We paid our way, and my opinion is not for sale. Just putting it out there, seeing as this has been a sensitive issue ’round the foodie blogosphere of late.