Supernormal Canteen is coming back – and this time it’s sticking around.
Owner Andrew McConnell says the reboot of his successful test kitchen will be up and running inside his now-closed St Kilda restaurant, Luxembourg, by late July.
“Our time at the canteen was really valuable,” McConnell tells Broadsheet. The original canteen – and pre-cursor to Supernormal proper in the city – ran for 12 weeks in the summer of 2013/2014, inside the Gertrude Street space now inhabited by Marion.
“It gave us a chance to look at a few dishes and develop a lot of things. We always thought it would be nice to do that again, somewhere, sometime.”
McConnell says that summer was the most fun he’s ever had working in a restaurant.
Supernormal sous-chef Tim Geogan will be heading up the kitchen, with a menu featuring whole garlic clove yakitori, pig’s head bao, steamed pork buns, chicken skin chicharrones, Chongqing popcorn and lots of dumplings. Supernormal’s trademark lobster rolls also make the cut.
There will be a raw bar (slightly smaller and “quite different” to the one at Supernormal) plus a bona-fide charcoal yakitori bar.
“One of the things I love about walking into an izakaya in Japan is the smoke that comes off a yakitori grill,” says McConnell. “It’s quite atmospheric.”
McConnell says the space – which will be designed by Zenta Tanaka (of Collingwood’s Cibi) – “won’t be like what the canteen was before, graphically or physically.”
“[Tanaka] has his own distinct aesthetic that’s very unique,” says McConnell. “Really understands how a casual dining space – or eating house or yakitori izakaya – should feel.”
“It’s also a chance to evolve the food and the menu.”
On the drinks side, Supernormal sommelier Leanne Altmann will curate a pared-back selection so “there won’t be any fillers,” says McConnell.
Staff will be wearing t-shirts; there’ll be paper napkins and bamboo chopsticks. McConnell stresses this isn’t Supernormal 2.0 – it’s its own venue: faster, louder and more casual than its sibling.
Delivery will also be a large part of the canteen – a major point of difference with Supernormal – and will be available across the same opening hours as the restaurant. McConnell is thinking of running a test kitchen for two weeks before doors open, which will only be available via delivery.
"We expect to be just as busy cooking for home delivery and take-away as we are for in-house guests," McConnell says.
Here’s hoping you’re in the delivery zone.
Supernormal Canteen will open in late July.
2/157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda