Longrain is one of Melbourne’s most enduring institutions. Chef David Moyle is fast becoming one of Hobart’s. This year the two are coming together as Longsong, a new bar and eatery above Longrain.
While Moyle is still deeply committed to Franklin, his acclaimed Tasmanian diner, he’ll spend some of the next six months developing the bar with owners John and Lisa Van Haandel.
Primarily cooking over coal-fired grills, Longsong is based on a Thai-style grill. Don’t, however, come looking for authenticity: “I think it’d be contrived for me to try and strive for more authenticity in Thai food, because that’s not my background. As much as I love Thai food, and I’ve been there and eaten there – I’m aware of the culture and I absolutely love the culture of it – I feel you lose the authenticity by trying to replicate it,” explains Moyle. “The food will be Thai-ish.”
Though the menu’s in its earliest planning stages, Moyle suggests there will be whole poultry and pungent oily fishes, condiments made in-house and served on leaves, and lots of cooking on skewers. “We’ll be cooking with a mind for dishes to be eaten out of your hand while standing up,” he says.
The focus on the bar side will be firmly on Australian brewers, distillers and winemakers, most of which will be served by the glass out of kegs or barrels.
“The cocktail list downstairs will be more shake-and-stick, whereas upstairs will probably have more engagement with local boozemakers, be it wine or spirits or beer,” says Moyle. “There’ll be a lot of herbal influence, and a lot of botanicals that will be infused directly into [drinks], as opposed to muddled, shaken and strained off.”
While we’re likely to wait until November (at the earliest) for our first look at Longsong, renovations on the former stables will soon begin. The plan is to keep the fit-out minimal, with freestanding service areas and wide-open spaces.
“The bones are bloody fantastic. We just want to create a space that’s relevant to what it was, but that’s also comfortable,” says Moyle. “It’s going to be pretty hard for us to fuck up the space, to be honest.”