Longsong is not-just-a-bar and definitely not a restaurant. Standing at the bar, or in the voluminous lounge and dining area, you might be transported to another country: a sexy, spacious New York bar, or a designer restaurant or hotel in contemporary South East Asia.
Longsong does pay homage to its perennially packed downstairs sibling (Longrain) and its Asian heritage. Overhead an installation of glowing lanterns by Jan Slook references Thailand’s floating lantern tradition.
The front of Longsong, which overlooks Little Bourke Street, is reminiscent of the kind of balmy colonial bars you see in movies set in the cities of French Indochina. Staghorns hang on the white brick walls beside huge open windows cut out of the warehouse brick. Between this area and the main dining space is a sleek granite and timber bar with greenery hanging from the framework.
Chef David Moyle is best known now as the owner and former head chef of Franklin in Hobart. He doesn’t specialise in South East Asian cuisine, and the menu at Longsong doesn’t try to imply that he does.
The kitchen at Longsong is simple – there’s only one piece of cooking equipment: a woodfire grill. The menu features meats and seafood on skewers – calamari, chicken, duck heart – as well as a smoky grilled quail with bitter greens and a punchy, hearty beef tartare. But the menu changes constantly. Highlights have included a whipped smoked snapper served with wafer-thin house-made crisps.
The beverage program is based largely around kegs filled with moonshine, wine and more, and Rootstock founder (and wine writer and judge) Mike Bennie structured the wine list. There are classic drops such as a Charles Heidsieck champagne, and Longsong is serving magnums of minimal-intervention Pét-Nat sparkling.