If you had the chance to dine at Longrain Surry Hills back in the early 2000s, there's a good chance several of chef Martin Boetz' dishes are still etched in your memory. Now he's back and reprising some of those favourites, all while kick-starting a new beginning in Brisbane, with the opening of Shortgrain.
After departing Surry Hills stalwart Longrain in 2013, followed by a time in the Hawkesbury running the Cooks Co-Op, Martin Boetz has travelled further north to settle in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley. Rather than a dark and moody restaurant, Boetz is going brighter and more casual with a day-to-night restaurant and a grab-and-go grocer adjoined. "It's an eatery and we've got a small food store on the side – that will have fresh veggies and Thai curry pastes," says Boetz. "Some curries will be sauce-only in Tetra packs that you add your own meat and vegetables to, and then there will be curries with protein, plus veggies and herbs."
Alongside the shop, at lunchtimes Shortgrain will focus on dine-in set dishes. "For lunches we're going to do quite a few one-dish wonders, so curry, rice and relish in a bowl; khao soi with braised beef; and crispy pork with chilli jam." It won't only be a wholly traditional Thai affair as well, with take-away banh mi of crisp pork or crisp skin chicken available to grab-and-go.
Come evening, the lights will be dimmed just a touch, and larger share plate dishes will be a focus. "The dinner will have more Longrain-style shared meals curries, some salads and small little bites," says Boetz. And it's here you'll find some of Boetz' longtime favourites, from the eggnet that sent Masterchef fans into a fuss, to the deeply caramelised pork hock, a masterstock braise that celebrates the sweetness of pork. "There will be an incarnation of the egg net with a wafer style outside," says Boetz. The turmeric wafer is served beholding caramelised coconut, prawns, bean sprouts and mint as a flavourful starter; alongside spiced cauliflower and coriander fritters with a sweet chilli and ginger sauce; and salt and pepper cuttlefish with soy mirin dressing and lime.
Mains will also include crisp fried fish with green chilli, galangal, nahm jim; spiced chicken braised in turmeric with rice, sweet chilli, galangal and mint sauce; and a dry-style red curry of pork belly with snake beans, salted duck egg and lime leaves. "For dessert we're also doing a duck egg caramel custard in a pork fat pastry, so they are little tarts; and my favourite coconut sorbet is going to be back on the menu."
Boetz moved to Brisbane in late 2022, and has worked on developing the concept through this year to ensure it's the right fit for the burgeoning food scene in Fortitude Valley. "The people are really great – the little street we're on is a really lovely food precinct. It's a beautiful building," says Boetz. "Brisbane is buzzing. It reminds me of Sydney in the time before the Olympics, how busy it was and it really came alive."
Shortgrain, 15 Marshall St, Fortitude Valley, shortgrain.com.au