A job perk such as a corporate lunch is one of those treats that you always look forward to. And when it's lunch with nice people, where you don't need to thrash out any deals, all the better for it. Today Voldemort and I are being taken out to lunch by Y, K and Pete to Longrain.
I have lots of good, but misty memories of Longrain. Misty and blurred since they were so long ago. I recall waiting at the bar for almost an hour for a table (they have a no bookings policy at dinner) but that was no hardship, it was one of those gloriously posey bars where perching on a banquette or lounge is the policy.
Today, in the light of day, I see that little has changed. The interior looks the same as always and the long shared table in the main dining room is full of suited diners. We're led to the semi private room around the corner where smaller tables sit without having to share the enormous communal tables. It's a good thing as it's warmer and slightly quieter there (although by no means is it quiet).
Our selections are made to share and are a mix of textures and flavours. The first to arrive is the Eggnet with pork, prawns, peanut, bean sprouts and sweet vinegar. A spidery fishing net of egg omelette embraces an enormous mound of bean sprouts, prawns and pork, like a catch of the day bounty. The peanut and ginger flavour is strong and tangy.
Our next dishes arrive together, Crisp duck with banana blossom pomelo and sweet fish sauce is some very crispy duck with some shredded banana blossom and lychees. The duck is a little verging on dry and the fish sauce gives the banana blossom a hit of that distinctive tang.
The Barossa chicken stir fried with ginger shallot quince and black vinegar is interesting, although some at the table don't feel that the quince works with the chicken however I didn't get a slice of quince so I didn't try two together. The chicken is deep fried and then drenched in a thickish sauce, like a Shandong chicken sauce except thicker and the black vinegar gives it a mysterious smokiness.
The Braised beefshin is met with satisfied nods from most of the table, the beef fall apart soft. I taste some star anise and give spice very, very faintly in the sauce, a thickish deep brown molten liquid.
The caramelised pork hock cubes also suffer a little in the dryness much like the duck but the fat helps save it somewhat and it has a delicious caramel flavour to it. The accompanying vinegar, the waiter tells us, will help cut through the pork's sweetness and richness. I find myself enjoying this once I get used to the fact that it is dryer than I expected.
Yes I found that advertising is indeed a very valuable concept in the grand scheme of things, especially if it allows me to have meals like this :)
85 Commonwealth Street Surry Hills Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9280 2888
Lunch Monday to Friday 12:00pm-2:30pm
Dinner Monday to Saturday 6:00pm -11:00pm, Sunday 5:30pm-10:00pm
Bookings for Lunch only
Vegetarian options: 3-5 choices