For years, the name Martin Boetz has been synonymous with Thai cuisine. The star chef trained under Thai-food expert David Thompson at Sydney’s Darley Street Thai before helping him open casual-dining concept Sailors Thai in The Rocks. In 1999, he opened his own venue, the highly successful Longrain Sydney, following it up a few years later with a Melbourne outpost. His cookbooks Modern Thai Food and New Thai Food were also crucial in establishing Boetz as an expert in the realm of Thai cooking.
For his latest venture, Boetz has returned to his hometown of Brisbane to open Short Grain in Fortitude Valley. There are plans to open a specialty food store on the site as well, but the 60-seat restaurant has been so busy since opening in late September that Boetz has put his full vision for the space on hold.
“At the moment we’re utilising [the store] space for people waiting for tables,” Boetz tells Broadsheet. “We actually have three more tables going in because we need more seats.”
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Currently, Boetz and his team of chefs – including head chef Daniele Passaretta (ex-Same Same) – are serving up appetisers like oysters with nam jim sauce, chicken crackers topped with smoked trout and green mango, and salt-and-pepper cuttlefish. Mains include robust dishes like red curry with coconut-braised duck and a yellow curry of beef brisket and kipfler potatoes. Elsewhere, there’s a crowd-pleasing caramelised pork hock with chilli vinegar, fried whole fish with caramelised tamarind, and green papaya som tum. A smattering of desserts rounds out the menu, with the duck-egg-caramel-custard tart gaining early popularity.
Boetz has also introduced a weekend lunch service with a condensed menu that’s evolving week-to-week. Recent offerings include pad krapow with pork mince and a deep-fried egg, stir-fried crispy pork with chilli jam and Thai basil, and fried egg noodles with duck, ginger and black vinegar.
Boetz called on David Bone from Cuttings Wine to curate the wine. It’s a well-priced and thoughtfully chosen list, with plenty of aromatic whites and light-bodied, juicy reds. There’s also a house white and red produced by Delatite from Victoria’s High Country, and a concise selection of cocktails and beer.
Short Grain is housed in the corner tenancy of the heritage-listed Stewart & Hemmant building, with large windows, exposed brick walls and dark timber floorboards. The interior is decorated with acquisitions from a recent visit to Thailand, including an 80-year-old urn found near Chiang Mai. Mustard banquettes, timber furniture, and a captivating art piece by Sydney-based artist Vicki Lee complete the striking minimalist fit-out.
There’s a retail wall adorned with jars of house-made chilli jam, dressings, and Thai-imported fish and oyster sauce in lieu of the soon-to-be-opened store, with plans to offer fresh herbs and vegetables, and curries that customers can take home and customise with their choice of meat and vegetables.
Eventually Boetz will step away from the kitchen to focus all his attention on the store, “I don’t want to do it half-heartedly,” he says.
2 McLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley
(07) 3852 3000
Wed to Fri 5pm–late
Sat 11.30am–1.30pm, 5pm–late
Liked reading about Martin Boetz’s newest venture? Check out our interview with his protégé Louis Tikaram.