2020 has been a roller-coaster for Melbourne restaurants. But the peaks and troughs have been particularly jarring for modern Thai restaurant Longrain and its upstairs bar, Longsong.
In May, then-owners John and Lisa van Haandel announced both venues were closing permanently, citing “unresolved lease issues” in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The reopening, slated for July, had to be put on ice due to lockdown 2.0. But the 15-year-old restaurant will finally reopen – with Pickett at the helm – on Wednesday November 4.
“It’s an iconic Melbourne restaurant … and I wanted to do my part to keep its legacy alive,” he told Broadsheet in July. “The whole feel of Longrain won’t change much at all. The restaurant’s not broken – we don’t have to fix it.”
Thai is a new cuisine for Pickett, so he’s worked with longstanding head chef Arté Assavakavinvong and the original kitchen team to develop a new menu, which will be banquet-only for now.
The Signature Banquet ($75) will centre on classic Longrain dishes, such as the seared scallop in betel leaf, caramelised five-spice pork hock, and green papaya salad. The Royal Banquet ($95) will feature new dishes, made in Longrain style but “with a native touch”. Expect red kangaroo curry with wild ginger and Thai basil; a Moreton Bay bug cake wrapped in crisp bean curd; and spanner crab lon, a light coconut-y curry flavoured with lemongrass and seablite and served with a fried bun.
Upstairs bar Longsong will serve as an extension of Longrain, while its loft area will be more casual, with boozy cocktails and Thai street food.