The bar at this Surry Hills classic now occupies its own entire floor
Sure, Longrain’s drinks list might seem a bit fruity judged against the likes of the new breed of moustache-whiskey bars, but it moves with the times. You can still get your Camp Bitches and your lychee-enhanced Ping Pongs, but the Drifter makes a strong case for the newer offerings. It’s a tall glass of trouble in the form of mescal, ginger beer and pineapple and chilli syrup, the sweetness toned down with lime juice and orange bitters, finishing with the antiseptic tang of the mescal itself. The DJ playing Thursdays through Sundays looks regulation-bored. Should a very-noughties mix of “soul, Afro-Latin beats, smoking dub lounge and cool jazzy breaks” not be your cuppa, come earlier in the week. The food, though, has as much sizzle as ever. The salt-and-pepper tofu, sauced with sweet soy and lime, remains the best in its class in the city, while the skewers of Berkshire pork, flavoured with tamarind and chilli, take a good lick of flame from the grill. We could take or leave the cumbersome barramundi spring rolls, but the bun stuffed with pork belly, pickled carrot and daikon, Vietnamese mint and chilli jam is a lemongrassy taste of the good life. Knowing exactly when to go hard on authenticity and when to loosen up has kept the kitchen pumping for 14 years, and the bar has maintained the same magic. Go with the ’Grain.