Longsong, a Thai-influenced grill and bar on the first floor of Longrain, will open in November.
First, a word of reassurance: it's business as usual at Franklin. David Moyle's commitment to Hobart's favourite eatery remains as strong as ever. He is its chef, it serves his food. But, he says, he wanted to use the quiet winter season this year to turn his hand to something new, and that something new is Longsong, a bold new chapter on the first floor of Longrain in Melbourne, set to open in November.
"Essentially it's a Thai grill and bar," he says. "Except that it's not exactly Thai." But while Moyle is reluctant to label the food Thai, much less authentic or regional, he says it'll look, feel and taste fairly Thai to the casual observer. He describes the seasoning he has in mind using terms such as "unapologetic" and "pungent". Lots of things grilled on sticks is the elevator pitch, and lots of flavour, with a strong focus on poultry, which will be hung in-house, along with "a hell of a lot" of seafood. "It'll definitely involve chilli, it'll definitely involve lime." The jury is still out on coriander. And at this stage of planning, rice and curries won't enter into it either.
"We've got that covered downstairs at Longrain," he says. "This is definitely more of a bar vibe." On the wine front, Moyle says he wants to pour "large-format Australians", while the cocktails will lean "non-shaky" in contrast to the more fruit-driven, classic Longrain stick-drink style.
The new gig came about thanks to the relationship between Moyle and Melbourne-based restaurateurs John and Lisa Van Haandel. He worked with the Van Haandels at Circa in his first head chef role, and then went on to open the acclaimed (but too short-lived) Pacific Dining Room for them at the Beach Hotel in Byron Bay before he moved to Tasmania. (The Van Haandels bought Sam Christie, Longrain's founder and the owner of Longrain Sydney, out of the Melbourne restaurant earlier this year.)
Though it's very different to the format and flavour of his food at Franklin, Moyle says the through-line to Longsong is clear, at least to him. "It's just food I want to eat and wine I want to drink."
Longsong opens above Longrain Melbourne in November. Longrain, 44 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9671 3151