There's no shortage of Asian-themed bars in Brisbane. Just off the top of my head, Kwan Brothers and Madame Wu come to mind and both left fairly positive impressions for me. You would think my mental quota for this genre of venue would be satisfied but for whatever reason, when I heard of Longtime, I was newly intrigued. I'm not sure how long ago Longtime opened; it seems 'newish' but not brand new. When it opened, I did a spot of casual research and found that they were hosting a theme night with guest chef Dan Hong from Ms G's in Sydney. I loved that restaurant so I was super keen to try this special event but alas I was working on the nights it was on.
Fast forward a year or so and I still hadn't been to Longtime. A friend of mine was visiting from Sydney and requested someplace 'cool' to dine. I know there are funky, thematic venues littered throughout Brisbane but my skeptic's voice told me there wasn't going to be anything on par with Sydney or Melbourne. My mind went blank and I panicked momentarily until Longtime presented itself as an option. It's difficult to know whether a restaurant classifies as 'cool' when you haven't been there yourself but the website looks hip and the font is edgy so what the heck, I made the booking.
Unlike many other restaurants, there is no live online booking service. I sent a booking request through via e-mail and got a reply fairly quickly. You can only make a booking for the 5:30, 6pm and 6:30 time slots. After that, it's a walk in and wait system.
The reservation making was a smooth process but the reservation keeping left something to be desired. We got there at 6:30pm, right in time for our booking and the place was overflowing with panicky staff/confused patrons. Longtime is not easy to find unless you're observant and have a good grasp of the Valley. I had Google Maps on my phone and still nearly walked past the entrance. There's a tiny, dark sign stating 'LONgTIME' at which point you turn into a tiny alleyway. The alley has bar stools and high tables for people to enjoy a drink while they wait to be seated. This works well in theory but our group of 4 were waiting aimlessly as there was no one to take our drink orders. Without a drink in hand, waiting is very boring. It was too noisy in the courtyard for any decent conversation so we sat awkwardly assuming our table wouldn't be long.
I chased up the staff at some point and learned that our table was 'getting prepared'. It was probably a good half hour before we actually got seated. That's not the worst I've had to wait but more than I expect when there's a booking in place. Again, if we had successfully received drinks while we were waiting it wouldn't have been as painful. Having said all that, the guy who seated us was extremely apologetic and explained there were two large group functions on that night so we understood their struggle.
Now that we were comfortably seated, we all put down our drinks orders and took some time to take in the surroundings. The actual interior dining space at Longtime is a lot larger than it looks from the outside. It's an expansive hall with hanging greenery and lights. The decor reminded me of my wedding, which is to say that I loved it even though it wasn't in line with the style of food they were serving.
Our cocktails were fantastic, well-presented, delicious and adequately boozy. Our night was starting to pick up, fast.
Isan taco of five spiced eggplant and house smoked chili sauce, and Longtime fried chicken burger with white pepper mayo
The food at Longtime, like that at many other fusion Asian restaurants, is designed to be shared. The tapas are sold as individual items, so we were free to choose specifically what we wanted from that menu. For the mains, we ordered a variety, plus rice.
Soft shell crab bao with apple slaw
The little starters were so adorable to behold. Bee and Davy both chose the soft shell crab bao. Marc ordered the mini chicken slider and I went for the eggplant taco. All were not only cute but tasty and successful in whetting our appetites for the mains to come.
Spicy green papaya salad - with mint, chili, coriander, red nahm jim, shallots and crispy garlic
The first of our mains was the spicy green papaya salad. I love green papaya salad and it's one dish that I know I'll never make at home because I can't be bothered to source and grate green papayas. This version was very delicious with a perfectly balanced spicy, sweet, sour, funky dressing and fresh, crunchy strands of green papaya. It had just the right amount of heat for me.
Slow cooked rib fillet salad - with pickled cucumber, thai basil and roast chili dressing
Slow-roasted pork belly - on a bed of chinese broccoli and smoked oyster sauce
The pork belly was beautiful to look at but was a tad salty for our liking. The meat itself was cooked well and there was nothing wrong with the veggies but the sauce was just that bit too salty. It was OK when offset with the rice.
Penang curry - of slow cooked beef cheek, peanuts and ginger
Our final main was one that was recommended by our waitress, the beef cheek penang curry. This dish was perfection with a delicious, creamy yet not overly heavy curry and melt-in-the-mouth morsels of beef. With the rice, it was a simply irresistible combination.
We loved the food at Longtime Restaurant and Bar. There was a bit of a wait to get our table, despite the fact that we made a booking in advance but they made up for it by owning up to the issue and then knocking out delicious drinks and dishes. The beef cheek curry was our group favourite.