The New Farm restaurants huddled around the intersection of Moray and Brunswick Streets are, for the most part, decades old. They’re run by families, for families. It makes it difficult for new operators to break into this inner-city village.
But Leslie McLauchlan and Christopher Tope are well placed to shake things up. The duo owns The Long Road, which last week opened in the airy cottage previously occupied by Gaslight Bistro.
Keeping the interior simple and elegant, with warm lighting and art-deco detailing, much of the innovation comes straight through the food. They describe it as modern European with a focus on charcuterie. But there’s plenty of ambition beneath that one-liner. “We’re changing the menu weekly,” Tope says. “Depending on what’s available and when, what we think we can do, how we might be able to surprise our guests and scare them a bit as well.”
McLauchlan says their inspiration comes from the casual fine-dining restaurants where she and Tope worked together in Melbourne. “Simple ingredients but curing for a long time,” she says. “Ageing the meats in a certain way that makes them spectacular.”
The Long Road’s head chef Phoebe Mille has walked into the kitchen right off the back of five years of culinary training in France, and is already creating dishes of playful, un-showy beauty. You might try perfect egg, asparagus, peas and goats curd one week, or Hervey Bay scallops with smoked almond crumb the next.
To complement the food, Tope has put together a wine list that leans on his Victorian background but also includes a bunch of classic old world French and Spanish wines, as well as some slightly more obscure Portuguese varieties.