For my Christmas celebration with work, 17 of us headed to Longrain for lunch. Now, I wasn’t actually planning on doing a post about this lunch as I was feeling a bit awkward about taking photos and being queried about the blog. A couple of dishes in I had been harassed so much by my “in the know” workmates that I relented and started taking photos (thanks S, D & M!). So here we are…
Given we had such a large group we opted for the banquet with a couple of variations for dietary requirements and a switch to the dessert platter instead of the coconut ice-cream. On dietary requirements, I actually thought the way they were dealt with by Longrain was exceptional. Amongst our diners we had a pregnant woman, 2 no pork or shellfish, a nut-allergy, several non-seafood eaters, a vegetarian, a non-red meat eater and a wheat-allergy (me). The staff went around and confirmed all the dietary requirements and then provided special altered dishes and advised which dishes not to eat. I have never seen such a range of requirements so well catered for – good work!
The first couple of dishes we had are sadly sans photographs. First up was the betel leaf – topped with prawn, peanut, mint & chilli paste (note: we also had a vegetarian version). This was a burst of flavour – the mint and chilli were prominent but other flavours included lemongrass, coriander, roasted coconut and ginger.
Next came the oysters with red chilli, lime juice & deep fried eschalots – I didn’t actually try these (terrible I know) as I was recuperating from a bit of a tummy bug. My workmates S & P devoured a heap of them and proclaimed them to be delicious.
The crisp squid was pretty great. I was very pleased to be informed that the squid itself (including the batter) was gluten free and I was provided with my very own little dressing of sweet chilli sauce as the chilli, mint and lime dressing usually served with the squid contained soy sauce (which is not my friend). The squid was nicely crisp on the outside and pretty tender on the inside, with good flavour.
By this point I pulled the camera out:
The eggnet was tasty enough but didn’t have the wow factor for me – the flavours weren’t as interesting as some of the other dishes (and certainly not even close to those betel leaves!). That said, the eggnet itself looked pretty impressive(before it was attacked as per the photo above).
Next came the pork hock:
I was informed by the waiter that the caramelised pork hock was not something for me to eat (presumably the pork had spent a lot of time marinating in a soy sauce dressing) and I was instead provided with a delicious beef curry with green beans. Despite the waiter’s warning I did snaffle a piece of the pork (blogging purposes – stomach be damned!) and it was as I remembered it – sweet with a crunchy exterior and a real richness from all that fat. Yum.
The alternative dish of beef with green beans was a surprising winner – my workmate M loved this. This dish also had a sweetness to it and the beef was perfectly tender.
At this point I was definitely starting to get full, but I had some small tastes of the following:
The fried tofu was served with chilli, coriander and a thick sweet sauce. The tofu retained a really nice texture after the frying. The stir fried Asian greens were provided to me sans sauce (the regular version had an oyster and soy sauce dressing) but the crumbling of fried garlic on top kept them interesting. I really enjoyed the green curry with tofu and beans – it had some slices of baby corn in it which gave it much needed crunch and the aniseedy flavour of the sweet basil counterbalanced the richness of the coconut based sauce.
The final savoury dish was a red curry with snapper.
At this stage I was almost beyond full, but had a little taste and was sad I didn’t have more room. The snapper was perfectly cooked – moist and juicy and the sauce was flavoursome without overpowering the fish. It was very good and a couple of people around the table thought it was the dish of the day.
We had a brief respite before the dessert platter arrived, looking very impressive:
It was exactly as I remember from previous visits and as per my previous visits I made a bee-line for the coconut caramel custard. This thick, sweet, sago (I think) pudding was covered in a rich palm sugar sauce and was absolutely beautiful. Actually I will admit that my workmate D and I spied an almost untouched bowl of this on another dessert platter on the table and promptly devoured it. The other elements of the platter were also great – I really enjoyed the vanilla tapioca and the sweet black sticky rice, the grilled bananas were nicely caramelised, the coconut ice-cream was smooth and sweet and the coconut biscuit added some much needed crunch.
Longrain really is an old faithful – sure the dining room can get pretty loud with all those hard surfaces, but the food is so well balanced and the flavours are so interesting. A great place for a fabulous meal in a casual atmosphere with excellent service.
44 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
Ph: (03) 9671 3151
Banquets required for groups of 10 or more.
Banquet option 1 – $48 pp
Banquet option 2 – $58 pp
$2 pp extra to include the dessert platter (and you definitely should!)