REVIEW: Subcontinental

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015

Shortgrain, the bar space beneath Surry Hills’ Thai restaurant Longrain, shut its doors at the start of the year. Situated 90 seconds around the corner from the Two Thousand offices, we poured out a little liquor as we mourned not being able to buy the fried chicken wings / greens ten dollar lunch combo, then waited anxiously for the new restaurant to open inside the space.

First of all, the bad news, relevant only to cheap Two Thousand writers and their interns: the new restaurant doesn’t do lunch. They’re working on a takeaway dinner menu to launch later in the year. The good news? Pretty much everything else about Subcontinental, the new restaurant and bar beneath Longrain is good news!

While Shortgrain offered snackier versions of the Thai dishes served upstairs, Subcontinental changes it up pretty drastically with a South Central Asian menu, as the name suggests. While decent Indian food is hard to come by in the inner city, so too is decent (or any) Sri Lankan, Bengalese or Nepalese cuisine, and it all gets a look in on the Subcontinental menu.

The space hasn’t changed much, save for the portraits of smiling turbaned men which hang over each of the booths, watching you fuck up the pronunciation of half the dishes. The house made pappadums are great for snacking on as you sip on a G&T, something you’d never consider ordering before a round of curries, but after learning that there’s a different G&T on each night at Subcontinental, you get on board. Which begins a theme of realising what the restaurant is trying to do and just going with it.

The crisp Pani Puri aren’t quite as exciting as the ones you’ll find in Harris Park but, they’re probably the only ones you’ll find in the city. Filled with tamarind water at the table and eaten in one gulp. Ever seen buratta on an Indian menu before? You’ll see it on your plate with a light green sauce and herby orange salad and it’ll be gone before you even work out if it makes sense. If you order the pork belly curry expecting a soft brown mess, you’ll be surprised by an excellent piece of roast belly, complete with crackling, half-submerged in a dark and spicy broth. Order a Tandoori lamb cutlet and try your hardest not to pick the thing up and eat it with your hands.

While there’s a good deal of decadence on offer, it’s just as easy to keep things cheap and classic with a simple vege curry, a bowl of basmati and a chapati to eat it with. The addition of fresh, sweet pineapple to the raita makes it a must-order, and the biggest misstep on the menu (a beetroot pickle that tastes like little more than raw beetroot) is very easily remedied (there’s a classic mango & chilli pickle which is ten times better).

Subcontinental is a welcome addition to the series of Surry Hills streets that are forever half-closed due to road maintenance. It speaks volumes that the Longrain team were able to close and open an entirely new restaurant in about one tenth of the time that it’s taken the Sydney City Council to install a flowerbed.

8 Hunt St, Surry Hills

Tues-Sat, 5:30-10:30pm

How much
Mains from $24

Speak Your Mind