After almost 20 years of Caipiroskas and betel-leaf miangs, Sydney's Longrain is closing. It will hold its final service on 30 June.
Sydney was a very different dining scene when Longrain, founded by restaurateur Sam Christie and chef Martin Boetz, opened in 1999. The restaurant's modern take on Thai food was refreshing for its time; so too its smart-casual setting with communal tables and warehouse vibes.
Nearby Thainatown was virtually non-existent, nor were the contemporary Southeast Asian restaurants (Spice I Am, Madame Nhu, Chin Chin) that now pepper the surrounding backstreets of Surry Hills.
And that much-loved bar, where cocktails heave with the flavours of the tropics, is an integral part of the Longrain magic. (Though, as Christie once told Gourmet Traveller, the original brief for Longrain was a Mediterranean restaurant, with the bar space leased out as an art gallery or scooter shop.)
After Boetz left the restaurant in 2013 to focus on his Hawkesbury River produce farm, Louis Tikaram took the lead in the kitchen before heading to West Hollywood to open the celebrated E.P & L.P. Current executive chef Griff Pamment joined the restaurant group in 2017.
The Sydney restaurant, which has outposts in Melbourne and Tokyo, cited the end of its lease as a catalyst for Longrain to explore "new opportunities".
"With almost 20 years of trade under its belt, Christie says Longrain's end of lease signals a new beginning," the restaurant announced on Instagram.
"Longrain Melbourne and Tokyo will continue business as usual."
In the meantime, we'll be waiting with curiosity about the Longrain group's next Sydney move.