Friday, January 17, 2014

Supernormal Canteen

 photo supernormal-7133_zpsc70f6014.jpg

Looking at the definitions for the words 'super' (very good or pleasant), and 'normal' (conforming to a standard), you'd think it's a bit weird for a chef to name his restaurant 'Supernormal'. 

 photo supernormal-7033_zps681be20f.jpg

Although, maybe he's making a statement, and saying that there is a certain level of quality that we should be expecting when we go out, that our level of 'normal' should really be 'super'. 

Or maybe I'm just reading into it too much. 

 photo supernormal-7015_zpse4e1a5e0.jpg

Andrew McConnell's newest addition to the Melbourne scene comes in the form of a pop-up, slotting itself neatly next door to it's much much bigger brother, Cutler & Co. The concept of a pop-up seems to get mixed reviews today, but I like the buzz they bring to the Melbourne dining scene (that's already bustling as it is), allowing chefs to try stuff out and have a little play. After all, creativity has to stem from somewhere!

 photo supernormal-6998_zps7f01ee04.jpg

Supernormal Canteen is cheeky and fun, bustling on a weekday at 7:00pm, with it's startled cartoon lanterns filling the ceiling and arrows pointing everywhere, adding some fun details to an otherwise minimalist space. 

 photo supernormal-7029_zps99346436.jpg

 photo supernormal-7005_zps84e3d7ca.jpg

While I waited for a spot to clear on one of the two communal tables, I perched on a couple of milk crates in the corner, next to some vending machines with brightly coloured Hello Kitty and Thomas the Tank Engine you do. Here I was fed plum wine, dancing delicately over my tongue, and boiled peanuts which were a refreshing change to the usually over salted ones you get at most Chinese restaurants, and also very, very addictive. Before I knew it, one little tray was gone, and between Ricky and I, when he arrived shortly after me, we nearly cleaned up another two. Oh my!

 photo supernormal-7002_zps5ca2f7db.jpg

Supernormal keeps the menu short and sweet, condensing the food and drinks all into one strip. The menu was saturated in Asian flavours, but all grown up. 

 photo supernormal-7043_zps8f863024.jpg

 photo supernormal-7037_zpsd7b8b326.jpg

Our night started on an enourmous high with the kingfish sashimi, seaweed and radish. Textures galore, with generously thick slices of kingfish, perfect for sinking your teeth into, with a feathery crispness sneaking in from the seaweed and burst of freshness from the radish. I could eat this every day. I know. Big call.

 photo supernormal-7050_zpsd338b2d3.jpg

The famous lobster roll was pretty much a no brainer, although I have to admit I wasn't as blown away as I would have liked to be. The bun was sweet, the lobster cool, but I felt the flavour was more muted that I expected it to be. Sure, I always love a bit of a mayo hit, but I want the sweetness of the lobster to come through as well. 

 photo supernormal-7067_zps6fc25839.jpg

 photo supernormal-7063_zps8b810af7.jpg

The soft shell mud crab and fried egg mayo was served as a deconstructed san choi bao, pop a dollop of the sauce in the heart of a lettuce leaf and wrap it around a piece of crab. Sumptuous, with all levels of crispy from the lettuce to the only complaint was that the serve was positively tiny!

 photo supernormal-7078_zpsfb11353b.jpg

The pig's head bao with kimchi cucumber, is not actually a whole head, but instead a croquette rolled out of the best bits and crumbed ever so lightly. In fluffy, cloud-like, steamed buns, there was nothing to dislike here. With a pinch in the mouth of chilli, it kept one quite excited. Definitely a highlight.

 photo supernormal-7087_zps8de0e2e9.jpg

Surprisingly, one of my favourite things of the night? Peas in XO sauce. I wish I was kidding, but I'm not. A combination of loose peas (the scandalous things) and sugar snap peas in a very light coating, really just a delicate sheen, of XO was just amazing. Served room temperature, the crisp texture and overall freshness of the product really shone through. Don't be deceived by the simplicity, and don't miss out if you visit!

With only 4 items on the dessert menu, it only made sense to eat half the menu. Right?

 photo supernormal-7101_zpsa5060b8f.jpg

A cocononut panna cotta with fresh lychees simply sings of a balmy breeze at the beach, almost looking like a bouquet with a sprinkle of raspberries...or something.

 photo supernormal-7123_zpsf795a121.jpg

But really, the star attraction for me in the sweets department had to be the soft serve white miso with pink lady ice-cream.  

Ooh lala, she was so fruity with a surprisingly comlimentary richness from the miso, giving a delightfully strong kick of umami to the senses. Don't miss this before the summer is over. 

Andrew McConnell always knows what he's doing, and this addition, even if it is a temporary one, to his empire is definitely worth a visit. It'll be interesting to see how the vibe changes, or what makes the final cut to the menu at the more permanent residence in the CBD when it opens up.

However, I suggest you don't wait until then, and actually get in for some of the best peas of your life and umami heavy desserts. Aww yeah. Maybe that could be Supernormal's super power? Super umami? Mmmhmm.

Supernormal Canteen has extended it's closing date from the end of 2013 to March 1st 2014.

53 Gertrude Street

Supernormal Canteen on Urbanspoon

View I'm So Hungree in a larger map


  1. Oh wow, that panna cotta sounds just perfect for this warm weather ... but then, I am always a sucker for fresh lychees (and very disappointed when I end up with canned ones instead!).

    1. Tell me about it! Nothing beats fresh lychees, although I do like the canned ones for making cocktails... ;)

  2. Iiiiiiiiinteresting, Ash. I like the menu especially the pigs head and kimchi bun. Sounds like my kinda food to eat. Have to keep this in mind next time I'm in the area instead of always hitting the same spots *yawn* lol

    1. Haha, I get so bad with picking new places sometimes, just too overwhelming! Def check this place out sometime though :)

  3. Miso soft serve! AHHHHH!!!!!!!!

  4. Maaan... it doesn't even look like a pop-up, and so cuuute the place too! Trust McConnell to come up with such interesting dishes.

  5. I've been waiting to go here until this place moves to its permanent location but this post has made me think I should get to Gertrude street pronto