Longrain is on Little Bourke Street, just down at the end of Liverpool Street. Apart from incorrectly calling this restaurant "Long Grain", I've been in love with this restaurant since Fox first introduced it to me early in my life here in Melbourne. Since then I've been there 3 or 4 times and it has become one of my favourite places to dine in the city so it seemed, to me at least, the choice for dinner to celebrate 6+ months at work.

While there are times, if you are prepared to wait a few hours, to drop by Longrain and get a seat - but by far the safest way, especially for a Friday, it's best to book ahead. We booked several weeks ago for a 9:15pm table, giving us enough time to gather ourselves after work, and have a drink in one of the lovely bars in and around Liverpool Street.

Double Happiness was our first choice, but it was very busy (which wasn't a surprise) so we climbed the stairs to New Gold Mountain for a few pre-dinner drinks in the quiet, cool surrounds of the Green Bar.

New Gold Mountain is quiet. It's easy to hear what your companions are saying, and conversation is the name of the game. So few bars let you do that. Background music is a misnomer and often dominates small bars and pubs. When we were at The Carlton the week before, the music got louder and louder until we were yelling at each other - no fun when the music was just piped, and frankly: shit.

We walked the short distance to Longrain for our dinner and were shown straight to our table. Sometimes, if you arrive a little early or your table isn't ready, you will be seated either at the bar, or at the small side-tables and given an extensive wine and cocktails list. Very well worth spending a little bit of time sampling the creative cocktails on offer. At the table, I ordered a Thai Bloody Mary, as Fox had recommended it from an earlier visit. It was spectacular!

Longrain encourages sharing. We each ordered a main dish, and had it delivered to the centre of our round table for everyone to sample. The food will blow your socks off. The flavours, the smells, the textures, the sauces. Just as well too - as Longrain is a very noisey restaurant - it's quite difficult to have a conversation with anyone not sitting directly next to you - but once the food comes out - no one is interested in conversation.

There were seven of us, so that gave us as many main dishes. Longrain decided we needed their spectacular tofu dish so gifted that to us as well. We had a _lot_ of food on the table and my stomach gave up long before my desire to eat it did. I think the new formula for ordering would be 5 dishes for 7 people in future though I'm not complaining - I spent most of Saturday dreaming about the caramelised pork hock with chilli vinegar and deep fried eschalots that stood out as my favourite among all the favourites.

While Longrain offers a beautiful restaurant and knowledgeable and friendly service - it really is all about the food. It will shut you up. It will make you make those mmming groaning omgoding noises and stop any other conversation until the food is done.

I highly recommend Longrain.

I thank the lovely Craig and Suzanne, Dave and Jen, Willo and Fox - especially Fox for organising the whole deal - for a wonderful evening, delicious conversations, and a very lovely birthday.

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