When people ask us what our favourite restaurants in Melbourne were, Supernormal is one of the first places that spring to mind. We left quite a few restaurants in Melbourne promising ourselves we’d go back. But then we got super engaged in crossing the Top 100 restaurants off the list and we never did. Except for Supernormal. We hit it first off for lunch on the second day of our trip, and the first day staying in the city. It’s a relatively large restaurant on Flinders Lane, with a large glass window and a cheery cherry neon sign welcoming you. We were offered a seat at the bar, as the dining area was full. No worries. We soon learnt that being a couple in Melbourne means you eat at the bar, or wait a long time. But if you are normally against this sort of thing, at least do it at Supernormal. Trust me, they’re the best seats in the house. Especially if you sit on the kitchen side, rather than the bar side. We not only received the best service from the bar staff and wait staff, we also watched the chefs at work, and chatted to them about what they were doing, and the best dishes to order. It was so incredibly fun, and we left feeling part of the Supernormal family.
The only downside of watching the food being cooked is that you get food envy, even though what you are eating is amazing. Which, apart from feeling like family (a sentiment backed up by the warm greeting we received on our second visit), was probably a large part of why this was the only restaurant we revisited. We were stuffed full, but so entranced by some dishes being plated, we had to try them!
As with the majority of restaurants in Melbourne (and Perth!), the dish style here is share plates. A form of meal Lance and I revel in. We started with the sea urchin crackers, a special of the day. The look of the sea urchin was a little off-putting (I think the term ‘manky vagina’ might have come up), but the dish itself was anything but manky. Raw, thinly sliced sea urchin, on a housemade seaweed cracker with pickled onion. The ocean flavour of the urchin was strong, the texture slightly chewy, slightly silky. The seaweed cracker snapped, crackled and dissolved as you ate it, like a thin prawn cracker, and the pickled onion set everything off.
The white cut chicken salad was ordered on a recommendation by Rob Broadfield at the reviewers lunch I attended, and it didn’t disappoint. The soba noodles, seaweed and spring onions the perfect base for the perfectly poached then chilled chicken and spicy sauce. The chicken was so tender and clean, not the slimy texture you can get with cold cooked chook.
We then went the bao route. Given my love of duck, that was a given, so we grabbed a duck leg seeing as there was just the two of us, and the pork bao. The pork was braised, crumbed and fried, and served with a tamarind sauce. This sauce was spicy, rather than the sticky sweet style of tamarind sauce I’m more used to. The spice and tartness of the sauce balancing the fluffy white mantou bun and rich fried pork well. The duck came DIY style. A plate of buns, a plate with the duck and cucumber, and a couple of sauce dishes. At first glance, the duck leg looked dusted in cocoa, but it was a dark, thin crispy shell created from the deep frying. It cracked open satisfyingly to reveal moist flesh that fell easily off the bone. The plum sauce and vinaigrette complimented it perfectly.
We wanted to keep eating at this point, but simply could not. So we ordered dessert. We shared the green tea and plum soft serve – playful in it’s colourful swirl, and texturally spot-on. The tart plum soft serve, compote and freeze dried pieces playing well against the grassy matcha. The peanut butter parfait was pure sweet heaven. A peanutty mousse on a macaron base with that wonderful chewiness macarons get. Salted caramel sauce, peanuts scattered about the place and a ball of chocolate ganache mousse finishing off the sweetness overload. Lance got this the second visit too.
Our second visit was our last dinner in Melbourne and made the perfect finish to the trip. We ordered three dishes, only one of which is still on the menu a few months later – the New England Lobster rolls. These were sweet and delicate parcels of lobster in a soft buttery bun. And my dessert was the baked ginger pudding. Straight from the oven in a cast iron pan, this dense gingerbread style pudding was everything Christmas dreams are made of. Realistically, this was big enough to be a share pudding – but after two weeks of doing nothing but eating, I greedily fit in the whole thing! Lance was too busy eating a peanut butter parfait to care too much!
Definitely deserves it's spot on our top 3 "normal" restaurant list. (Vue de Monde is in a class of it's own!!)