Restaurant Reviews

Short Grain

Martin Boetz returns home to Queensland with a vibrant eatery dedicated to the diverse flavours of Thailand.
Short Grain by Martin Boetz's whole fried fish
The whole fried fish at Short Grain by Martin Boetz.
Jeremy Simons
15 Marshall Street, Fortitude Valley

Before stepping foot inside Short Grain, the message is clear. See the bright scarlet sign above the door? It reads Short Grain by Martin Boetz. 

Boetz is the chef who captivated Melbourne and Sydney with Longrain before launching The Cooks Co-Op in the Hawkesbury. Now he’s back in his hometown, doing what he does best: Thai food.

When GT visits, he’s buzzing around the slick, brick-walled space, delivering vibrant dishes to tables and clearing them away, like the terrifically intense jungle curry we just devoured. Boetz’s rendition is layered and punchy, brimming with chunks of sweet grouper, soft Thai eggplants and firmer, bitter pea eggplants.

It’s a dish that may challenge some diners, but Boetz crafts a menu that appeals to all. Who wouldn’t enjoy a salty snack of fried chicken skin crackers topped with smoked trout and green mango? Or a luscious red curry with coconut-braised duck leg, Siamese watercress and makrut lime?

Chilli lovers won’t be disappointed either, with a fresh salad of green mango, herbs and chilli, atop salted, crisp amberjack pieces; and a fiery dry red curry of Skull Island tiger prawns with chopped salted duck egg, snake beans, and crisp Thai basil leaves.

The latter pairs magically with a glass of Dr Loosen Bernkasteler Lay Kabinett Riesling. The off-dry wine, with its tropical fruit characters and balanced sweetness, helps tame the heat. And that’s how the entire wine list has been constructed – with plenty of aromatic whites and light reds to pair with the bold Thai flavours.

Short Grain by Martin Boetz restaurant interiors in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley.

Long-time fans of Boetz may recognise dishes from his tenure at Longrain. Like a riff on his signature eggnet dish, in the form of a crisp turmeric wafer filled with prawns, caramelised coconut and bean sprouts. Or his much-loved caramelised pork hock dish, featuring tender, masterstock-braised meat, coated in sticky caramel, and topped with crisp fried garlic and chilli vinegar.

While it shares some dishes, Short Grain is not a clone of Longrain. The experience is less formal; the room is brighter; and there’s a small grocer section, with jars of house-made curry pastes and sauces. The food, however, is equally flavour-packed, balancing the essential Thai flavours: sweet, salty, spicy, sour and bitter. Throughout his career, Boetz has been able to amplify these flavours to great success.

In a way, it’s serendipitous that Short Grain even exists. When Boetz moved back to Brisbane, he intended to open a small Thai grocer, not a restaurant. But when he stumbled upon a stunning heritage-listed space that was too big for that, the result became a hybrid of the two. Boetz has long-term plans to step back from the restaurant and focus on the grocer. Maybe that time will come. For now, let’s celebrate the return of a home-grown star.

Short Grain
15 Marshall Street, Fortitude Valley
Martin Boetz and Daniele Passaretta
Price Guide
Wheelchair Access
Opening Hours
Lunch Thu-Sun; Dinner Wed-Sat
A welcome homecoming.

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