Saturday, January 06, 2007

Longrain, Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills

Longrain, Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills
Saturday 6 January, 2006

Longrain is hidden away in Surry Hills in a non-descript street with not much in the vicinity i.e. your only option for drinks afterwards once Longrain has closed is the Hollywood across the road.

Tonight we celebrated a friend's 30th birthday in the Private Dining Room of Longrain. We kicked off with pre-dinner cocktails in the bar then moved into the private area hidden behind a wooden slat wall. It's a great space to celebrate something as you can still hear the buzz from the main dining room and the sounds of the DJ from the bar. However, as private as it is there was a trickle of staff walking through to get to their staff room or lockers down the stairs. I thought this was odd but it doesn't take away from your enjoyment of the private dining room.

We were extremely fortunate to have one of Longrain's chefs join us at dinner (he had a night off and is also the birthday buddies partner) so was able to give us the inside goss on the food, preparation etc. I loved it.

We had a special banquet that is different to their typical banquet offerings and it was sensational. We kicked off with freshly shucked oysters with red chilli, lime juice and deep fried shallots - they were huge enough to tip straight into your mouth. This was closely followed by betal leaves topped with smoked trout, chilli, garlic, galangal and trout roe. What an explosion of flavours in your mouth - this was close to being my favourite dish but we had only just started - the food just kept on coming!

The next dish to arrive at the table was intriguing - eggnet with pork, prawn, peanuts, beans, sprouts and sweet vinegar. This looked kind of like a thick spider web over the dish and wasn't overly eggy as the sweet vinegar gave the entire dish a fresh, light texture and flavour.

Soft shell crabs with pomelo, green chilli and a caramelised peanut nahm jim followed and these were crisp and very tasty. The next few dishes to arrive at our table took the meal to a whole new level and were just brilliant:

- Red curry of duck with siamese watercress, kafir lime and red chilli
- Braised beef shin with a mint, coriander and chilli salad
- Caramelised pork hock with five spice and chilli vinegar

I honestly couldn't pick a clear winner here - these final three dishes were absolutely delicious. The red curry duck was incredibly more-ish and the rich sauce was lovely over steamed rice; the braised beef shin just fell apart, was wonderfully tender and swimming in a pool of chinese oyster like sauce; and the pork hock was a heart stopper but gee, it was good.

Just when you thought the food had finished dessert arrived. We received three large platters of dessert that consisted of banana fritters with banana ice cream, tappioca pudding, sticky rice, caramel sauce and coconut and lime jelly. We were all so full that it was hard to fit any more food in but the banana fritters were the stand out.

It was a great night and as we finished up there was a minor hassle with the bill but we were the last to leave this fab place. I really enjoyed it.

Longrain - 85 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills - (02) 9280 0888


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