Supernormal Melbourne has evolved from Andrew McConnell’s Golden Fields (now Luxembourg) in St Kilda, with a stop past the Supernormal popup in Fitzroy over the summer. Designers Projects Of Imagination have been inspired by Japan in designing a modern space with clean lines, wood, concrete and metal. There’s neon katakana signage, a Pocky vending machine and the option of karaoke in the private dining room downstairs. Don’t however, be fooled into think that this is a Japanese restaurant. No such claims are made, and the food is a fusion of modern Australian, Japanese, Korean and Chinese flavours and techniques.
Supernormal is very well staffed. In the kitchen and on the floor there is a constant buzz of people making sure things run smoothly. Service was of a very high standard throughout the night – professional yet friendly, although I did find that the pacing of the dishes was a bit off. My wife and I started with a New England Lobster Roll and a cocktail each while we were waiting for our table, and it was great to be able to have a bite to eat while we were waiting as we were starving. When we got to our table, the first 2 dishes came at what I’d consider a reasonable pace and then 3 dishes were squeezed onto our table in very quick succession, before we’d had the chance to start eating any of them.
The menu contains a variety of small and large dishes and is designed to share. On the drinks front, on offer is a small selection of cocktails as well as sake, wine, beer, spirits and a few other Japanese offerings. Cocktails were nice, but were on the pricey side for Melbourne.
New England Lobster Roll ($16.00 each)
The New England Lobster Roll has survived from it’s time at Golden Fields. The brioche is loaded with butter on the inside and toasted on the insides giving both a crispy and soft texture, the lobster is present in just the right proportion, as is the kewpie mayo and touch of watercress. It’s not cheap but there’s no denying that it’s comfort food at its best. One part of me says, $16.00, ouch! but the other part knows that I’ll be grabbing one the next time I’m there.
Sea Urchin Crisp ($5.00 each)
One of the specials for the night was the sea urchin crisp. This was a great appetiser. A crispy and not at all oil crisp topped sea urchin. The soft, creamy texture of the sea urchin offset the crisp texture nicely.
Roasted, salted pumpkin seeds are offered to all diners to snack on while waiting for the main dishes to arrive. A nice, simple touch.
Cobia, Pickled Fennel, Yuzu & Chilli ($17.00)
We selected this from the “raw” section of the menu. It was really tasty. Cobia has a firm texture and is very flavoursome. The pickled fennel and tartness of the yuzu provided some nice balance to the dish without overpowering the flavour of the cobia. The chili wasn’t particularly strong.
Pickled Spanner Crab Salad, Cabbage Hearts, Watercress, Miso Dressing ($18.00)
This dish was one of the highlights. There was a generous amount of crab in the salad, and all of the flavours combined nicely together, with a mixture of gentle flavours and soft and crunchy textures.
Cold Rolled Pork Belly, White Kimchi, Yuziang Sauce ($16.00, 4 pieces)
This dish was nice, however it didn’t hit the highs of some of the other things that I ate during the night. I found that the flavour of the pork overpowered the other flavours of the dish. I’m a big fan of pork belly but I felt like I was eating nice ham with some other flavours popping in occasionally. An example of the components of the dish being greater than the whole I’d say.
Pan-Fried Spicy Beef Bun ($6.00 each)
Excellence resumed with the spicy beef buns. The bread was dense and heavy, but not in a bad way, and provided a good balance to the moist, tender beef which had a real spicy kick to it. A real winner.
Prawn & Chicken Dumplings, Chilli & Vinegar Sauce ($14.00, 6 pieces)
The prawn and chicken dumplings were great. Nothing fancy going on here, just really flavoursome filling wrapped in a perfectly cooked and textured dumpling skin. The chilli and vinegar sauce was excellent, finding the perfect balance between the two components.
Soft Poached Meringue, Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt, Apple & Shisho ($16.00)
To finish off with my wife and I went for this dessert based on its appearance and the gushing on about it that was going on at the table next to us. We were not disapointed. The shisho was a slightly minty iced granita and was part of a textural mish mash with crunch apple cubes, crunchy meringue and soft, creamy yoghurt. There was a lot going on here, and it all worked well together. Very refreshing and very light.
My wife and I both left Supernormal quite satisfied. It’s pricier than we had expected but there’s no denying that this is another win in the McConnell portfolio of restaurants. Quality ingredients, deceptively simple food elevated by technique and (apart from the pacing of the dishes) flawless service combine to make for a great meal.
180 Flinders Lane
Sun – Thu: 11:00am to 11:00pm
Fri – Sat: 11:00am to 12:00am