Originally, Martin Boetz wasn’t planning on opening a restaurant. When he moved to Brisbane after selling the Cooks Shed in the Hawkesbury – two hours north-west of Sydney – he started scouting locations for a Thai store. He came across a double tenancy inside the heritage-listed Stewart and Hemmant building in Fortitude Valley, and instantly fell in love.
“In my head, I wanted to [open] a store that sold curry pastes, sauces and that sort of thing,” he says. “I wanted to do [that] more than an eatery, but then I saw this space.”
Boetz is talking to Broadsheet inside the large 225-square-metre space overlooking a small park. The inside is completely gutted, but you can already tell it’s going to be a looker. With high ceilings, large windows and lots of exposed brick, the space is too large for a standalone store. The size of the space is what convinced Boetz to attach an eatery to it.
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In August, this space will become home to Short Grain by Martin Boetz, a highly specialised Thai grocer and eatery. It’s a homecoming for Boetz, who grew up in Brisbane before moving to Sydney where he trained under Thai food expert David Thompson, and spent 14 years as executive chef at two of Australia’s best Thai restaurants: Longrain Sydney (now-closed) and its Melbourne outpost.
Once open, Boetz says the eatery will focus on simple dishes that are suitable for both sharing or enjoying on their own. Expect plates of khao man gai (braised chicken and rice); steamed duck and winter melon soup; salt and pepper cuttlefish; and fried whole fish with green chilli nam jim alongside an international-leaning wine list.
The store, which will be fitted out with dark tiles and shelving, will sell jars of house-made curry pastes, imported Thai products like fish sauce and rice, and fresh produce like snake beans, apple eggplants and Thai basil. Boetz says there will be some pre-prepared curries too, which will just need to be finished at home.
“At this point, the curries will have protein in them but they won’t have any vegetables,” he says. “[At home] you can simmer them and add your apple eggplants or whatever – we’ll help guide you to what [vegetables and herbs] would go with what [curry].”
Short Grain by Martin Boetz, 2 McLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley, opens in August.