Top Thai – the LONgTIME crew opens sAme sAme on Ada Lane
It takes a lot of guts to close a beloved restaurant – especially one that was as immensely successful as LONgTIME. When the brains behind the beloved Thai restaurant announced that the eatery would be wrapping up service after five years of rave reviews, the collective outpouring of emotion was unlike anything Brisbane had seen before. The heartache was quickly tempered, however, by the follow-up reveal that a successor restaurant was already in the works on The Calile’s Ada Lane strip. sAme sAme is LONgTIME’s heir – an artfully designed dining destination dishing up a familiar take on Thai fare with some undeniably impressive enhancements.
According to Tyron Simon, the decision to close LONgTIME and transform it into a dedicated functions space was not one made lightly. As one of the original owners of the Fortitude Valley restaurant (alongside Frank Li and Bianca Marchi), Ty has seen it grow and evolve over five years into one of Brisbane’s most popular restaurants. Since doors first opened in 2014, quiet nights have been a rare occurrence, with guests flocking to savour LONgTIME’s southeast-Asian cuisine. Such popularity is a double-edged sword – as business boomed, so did the pace of service. Orders flowed, meals were devoured and tables were turned over at a cracking pace, but such a speedy service meant patrons couldn’t linger long over their meals. When Ty and his team opened hôntô in 2018, they did so with a focus on a slower, more deliberate product – one that ensured diners and staff could breathe and focus on making the experience as enjoyable as possible. It was around this time that the LONgTIME crew was approached by the Malouf family, who were seeking a top-flight operator to take on the flagship dining space at their five-star boutique hotel The Calile. As enticing as the opportunity seemed, the venue would be expected to operate seven days a week with three services a day (plus room service orders). These expectations didn’t align with the LONgTIME crew’s new slow-it-down ethos, but when they were offered a spacious tenancy on the forthcoming Ada Lane precinct instead, Ty and co. decided it would be the perfect opportunity to transition LONgTIME’s product to a new home with a more relaxed atmosphere. Thus the team got to work on sAme sAme – a spiritual successor to LONgTIME that would plate up an elevated take on Thai fare, sans the break-neck pace of the previous iteration.
When it came to sAme sAme’s interior design, Tyron enlisted the services of Richards and Spence to conceptualise the fit-out. Ty’s brief was simple – the restaurant needed a centralised kitchen (with lighting that matched the rest of the interior) and the dining space had to offer a blend of vibes. When pressed for notes on preferred aesthetic touches, Ty mentioned a fondness for the Fiat Jolly – a vehicle that boasted wicker seats instead of the regular cushioned variety. The resulting fit-out is striking and precise – concrete, brick, smoky mirrored surfaces and wicker form the core pillars of sAme sAme’s interior palette, blending a sense of grandeur and intimacy across several key spaces. Depending on mood, guests can enjoy four kinds of dining experiences – a breezy perch in the Ada Lane-facing front bar, placed at sAme sAme’s communal table underneath the impressive arched ceiling, seated at the curved kitchen bench with a view of the action, or tucked away on the far side bathed in mood lighting. Head chef Ben Bertei (now a co-owner) has overseen the kitchen fit-out, adding in charcoal barbecues for a new fire-licked element to the offering. sAme sAme boasts 30 less seats than LONgTIME, a calculated move to help reduce the pace and facilitate more considered service. Once sAme sAme was underway, the Maloufs once again reached out with a new offer to occupy the second-floor bar space. After considering the offer, Ty and his crew agreed to take it on, opting to create a venue that could act as both a standalone venue and handy area for folks waiting for a table at sAme sAme downstairs. The bar – called LOS, or Land of Smiles – boasts a minimalist green-heavy palette across its walls, furnishings and ceiling, in contrast to sAme sAme’s cream complexion. A private-dining space is currently being assembled above Jocelyn’s Provisions, adding another new element that can cater to birthdays, corporate events and other special occasions.
The food and drink
A few years back, the LONgTIME kitchen crew once removed its famed crab bao from the menu. This move prompted an open revolt amongst its die-hard regulars, and from then on the team was wary of tinkering too much with the crowd favourites. For sAme sAme, many of the calling-card dishes that forged LONgTIME’s culinary identity have been transferred across, with a collection of new and intricate dishes comprising of seasonal items added to the list. As of opening, the menu segues through a selection of raw bites (oysters, beef tartare nahm tok), bar snacks (prawn larb taco, pad prik king chicken wings and LONgTIME’s chicken burger), mains (grilled beef short ribs, whole crispy fish, grilled pork neck), curries (coconut and turmeric curry of Moreton Bay bug, twice-cooked lamb shank massaman curry), noodle dishes (roasted pork belly pad see ew, charred white asparagus with fish sauce), and desserts (peanut-butter parfait with chocolate mousse). Like LONgTIME, sAme sAme boasts a wine list that skews towards minimal intervention, sustainable and organic drops (focusing on the three R’s – riesling, rosé and Rhône). Each drop drinks indicatively of its wine variety, so you won’t be caught off guard if you are seeking a classic sip. That being said, those that favour textural drops will find plenty of interesting bottles to enjoy. Upstairs at LOS, guests will be able to enjoy sAme sAme’s snack menu, while a selection of 140 tequilas filter into a formidable cocktail selection.
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