44 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne (map)
334 Bridge Road, Richmond (map)
Dad and sister Birdie share the same birthday. We went to celebrate it last Tuesday night at Longrain, the mod-Thai restaurant from Sin City whose Melbourne incarnation I've been wanting to try out for ages. Despite some initial teething problems (when I rang two weeks earlier to make a booking for five people a hostess rather frostily informed me that you have to have a minimum of six people to make a booking... so I asked for a booking for six and oh gosh damn, one of our party was sick on the night so there was just five of us... if you ask me, a minimum of six is just SILLY!), we had a superb night.
Having two cocktails each before we sat down to eat (yes, a tad excessive for a Tuesday night, but hey) probably helped. I had a cucumber and elderflower martini (pictured left) - nice, but I still think Philippe at Gin Palace makes the best cucumber martinis in town - and a Red Dragon (pictured right), a brilliant and outrageous mix of (from memory) chilli vodka, coriander, cranberry juice and strawberries.
Our round table had a marble inner circle that revolved yum cha style, so we ordered five dishes and shared them all. And drank a crispy riesling and a lip-smacking pinot noir.
Foodwise, first up was the eggnet filled with pork, prawns peanuts and sweet vinegar. This cold salad was beautifully presented in a 'net' of omelette and was very tasty. It was also the mildest dish of the five, so our palates appreciated getting it first.
The peanut curry of braised Wagyu beef with chilli and Thai basil was next - the meat was wonderfully tender as you'd expect, medium-spiced and with a nice zing at the end.
Next was the salt and pepper baby barramundi with sweet soy and lemon. I think the barra was my favourite of the five dishes - the pieces had been fried in the salt and pepper batter but were still light and crispy, with the freshness of the fish readily apparent. The two side sauces, I believe, were mirin-based and chillied plum sauce respectively. And the presentation of the pieces of fish tucked inside the curved fried spine of the fish was awesome!
Less photogenic is the steamed whole flounder with green chilli peanut nahm jim. It was still really tasty - very nutty and spicy. A pity Birdie pinched most of the sauce! :)
Last up was the duck and longan salad, with Chinese celery, coriander and cucumber, with a black vinegar/soy/sugar sauce. Also very nice - the sweet n sour sauce went really well with the duck - but we were getting pretty full by this stage, so weren't able to give this dish the attention it deserved, alas!
The family generously offered to drive me home to Cremorne. My brother Buster put in a request to stop on the way for an ice cream at the Bridge Road branch of Fritz Gelato, then persuaded me to get a scoop of their award-winning Pistachio Heaven. I'd never tried pistachio ice cream before, not being a particular fan of pistachios... but WOW, what an amazing taste sensation! Where has pistachio ice cream been all my life?!? The Pistachio Heaven chez Fritz is creamy and honeyed and yet it has this... I don't know... OILINESS that I hadn't tasted in an ice cream before, but it was just delicious!