Supernormal Canteen – Another McConnell Gem!

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Menu:

Menu at Supernormal Canteen

T and I were heading out to dinner and decided to check out Andrew McConnell’s latest venture and temporary pop-up in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. The name of his new place, which is located right next door to Cutler and Co. is called Supernormal Canteen – which is due to open in March next year at its permanent location in Flinders Lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD.

As you walk in you are greeted with an open space filled with wooden communal and individual tables with Japanese characters saying “Suupaanoormaaru” (Supernormal) all along the table top. To the left is a white washed brick wall with its name – half in neon red lights. The centrepiece is the hundreds of lanterns complete with googly eyes that line the ceiling. Spectacular. The design gurus Projects of Imagination are to thank for the design here. The whole vibe of the place is relaxed and fun and has a food and drink menu to match. There are two main dining areas, as well as some seating out the front.

Supernormal Canteen was launched in November as part of The Age Good Food Month and was only meant to be open until December 21st, but due to its overwhelming popularity was extended till the beginning of March. Supernormal Canteen serves Japanese/Chinese food together with sake and Asahi beer, and gets packed by about 6:30pm – where you would then expect a wait for a table.

The menu consists of about 18 dishes to share which vary in size, as well as 4 different desserts. The dishes range from Wood Grilled Cabbage, Pepper Cured Blackmore Brisket, the famous Lobster Roll, Chicken & Prawn Dumplings and Szechuan Lamb just to name a few.

T & I decided to order some dishes to share. For drinks I ordered the Iced Coffee – which comes with a little aluminium cup with extra sugar syrup for you to add when you feel like it. The coffee was strong but delicious and I loved the addition of the extra sugar syrup for later. We were also given some roasted peanuts (in place of where most restaurants would give out bread) to nibble on whilst we waited for our dishes to arrive. They were deliciously flavoured – and you had to stop yourself from eating the whole bowl in one go.

The first dish we got was the Bonito Sashimi, Dashi, Radish & Seaweed. The dish comes with the Kingfish at the bottom of the plate with the radish on the next layer and finished with the seaweed on top. The Kingfish was fresh, thick and just perfect, paired with the dashi and the crunch of the radish and seaweed it really was quite delicious. A really great combination.

Our next sharing dish was the Fried Mussels, Egg Mayo, Lettuce. The sauce was interesting as on the bottom there was chilli and the egg mayo was placed on top – so when you dunked in the mussels you got a combination of both the sauces – really great! The Fried Mussels itself were delicious and the first time that I was eating mussels this way! The mussels were crisp on the outside and just still moist and juicy on the inside. The way you were meant to eat it was to wrap the mussels in the lettuce and dip it into the sauce. Any which way you eat it – this dish is just fantastic and I would highly recommend it.

Next up I ordered a Lobster Roll – I mean how could you not order one especially if you have tried one before (I had my last one at Golden Fields). The bun was sweet as was he lobster and combined with the tang of the mayo was just delicious. It definitely kept me wanting more. I would have loved a bit more lobster in my roll though.

We went with some of the larger dishes as well with T ordering Grilled Ox Tongue, Tomato, Yuzu & Potato for her and we also ordered the Steamed Snapper, Ginger, Coriander. T said the Ox tongue was cooked well and she did enjoy the flavours. The Steamed Snapper dish came out with the snapper being buried under the coriander and radish – you had to push that all aside to reveal the snapper. The snapper was perfectly cooked – not too soft, not too tough – and the flavours of ginger, spring onion together with the fresh coriander was quite good. It smelt great and tasted Just as it smelt – it was also a very generous serving.

Even though I was quite full I had to have dessert – and lucky I didn’t skip it as it turned out to be the yummiest and one of my most favourite desserts ever. I ordered the Yoghurt Cream, Lychee & White Chocolate. When it comes out it looks like berries and lychees have been buried in a powdery snow like substance – and it really doesn’t look like much. Just wait till you dig into the dish. The powder was an awesome texture and as you dig further you get the hit of the white chocolate. Combined with the freshness and tang of the berries and the “yoghurt”, sweetness of the lychees and the white chocolate – the result is absolutely divine! I really do hope they keep this dessert on the menu when they move to Flinders Lane.

I really enjoyed the vibe and the atmosphere at Supernormal Canteen. They serve really delicious, casual Asian inspired dishes and have a great drinks menu to go with it. The staff are super friendly and very knowledgeable about the food. There are rumours that when the new permanent venue opens up it will also house a karaoke bar – for extra added fun! I for one cannot wait to see the permanent venture opened.

 

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Menu consists of shared dishes and a great drink menu – refer to above section for Menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun and Relaxed
Standout Dish: Yoghurt Cream, Lychee & White Chocolate
Service: Friendly and very knowledgeable

http://supernormal.net.au/

Supernormal Canteen will be opening in Flinders Lane sometime around March 2015

Supernormal Canteen on Urbanspoon

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Casa Ciuccio – Great for Sharing Dishes

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Casa Ciuccio has been on my list of places to eat for a fair while now and we finally got to check it out for Dinner on a Saturday night. There were four of us and we had made a booking for the earlier sitting of 6pm (and the table was needed back by 8:30pm). N and I arrived before the other two, and as we walked in we thought it was a lovely, quaint place that had a rustic, charming and homely feel.

Casa Ciuccio is the latest restaurant from the Bar Lourinha (CBD) team – Jo Gamvros, Simon Benjamin and chef Matt McConnell (brother of Andrew McConnell of Cumulus Inc, Golden Fields etc)- which is located on the trendy Gertrude Street. Ciuccio means cheeky Neapolitan donkey and there is evidence of donkeys around the place such as behind the bar on shelves alongside a burnt red brick wall.  There are various dining spaces which consists of a front room ‘picar’ bar, a first floor private dining (which can seat up to 22 people) which adjoins ‘Bar Chooch’ and deck and is completed with a European-style courtyard. At the front room you can sit at tables or high stools or head into the ‘kitchen table’ where you can watch the chefs cook right in front of you.

The menu is Mediterranean-inspired (flavors of Spain and Portugal) and consists of share plates (raciones) and small snacks (para picar), has a great drink menu and larger dishes from the grill and coal pit. All the meats from the coal pit are cooked long and slow over coal (for between three and six hours) and fruitwood and served with potatoes and condiments to create a smokey flavour. Sounds tempting right? There is also a selection of vegetables to choose from. The menu is designed to share dishes thereby being able to try many dishes which is the best possible scenario.

There was four of us for dinner and we decided to get a dish from each section. We got the Yellowfin Tuna from the Para Picar section, the Ocean Trout from the Racione, the Octopus tentacle and Garfish from the Grill and the Wagyu Brisket from the Coal Pit. The Yellowfin Tuna came in three chunky pieces of tuna atop of a piece of potato and was delicious. The tuna was cooked perfectly and had a great rustic flavour and texture. Next up was the Ocean Trout which was served cold served with a lime dressing and had added tanginess with the gherkins. The trout was fresh and quite tasty.

The octopus tentacle was next and is quite impressive when it comes out – served on a plate with a wedge of lemon. The octopus is seasoned with lemon juice, oregano and garlic and is steamed and is a paler shade of tandoori red. It comes chargrilled and when we cut into the tentacle it is soft, tender and has a punch of spiciness to it. It definitely was the dish of the night and is a must try for anyone coming to try the food here. You really could eat it all night long.

The garfish dish was quite generous in serving size and came with two whole garfish on the plate draped in pieces of pomegranate. Pomegranate is one of my favourite fruits and it added a nice tang and sweetness to the dish. The only issue with garfish are the tiny tiny bones that make it hard to eat. The garfish was cooked just right and was juicy and flavorsome.

Next up was the Portuguese Goat and Rice and the Peppered Wagyu Brisket and Potatoes from the Grill. The Portuguese Goat and Rice was similar to a Paella and everyone around the table thoroughly enjoyed it, but would have liked more pieces of goat. The other three said the goat was tender and the flavours mixed with the rice, tomato was fantastic. The Wagyu Brisket was tender and the smokey flavours added depth to the perfectly cooked dish.

Eventhough we were all quite full from the dinner meals there was no way we were going to refuse dessert. We decided on ordering two desserts and sharing them between ourselves. We got the Chocolate Buneuelos and Hazelnut Sauce and Dulce de Leche Cream Pot and Peanut Praline. I didn’t know what a Buneuelo was – it is like a chocolate filled donut and together with the hazelnut sauce was quite delicious. The Buneuelos pastry was soft and tasted like a delicious cake and had icing sugar over the top. The best dessert however was the second one we had ordered – the Dulce de Leche Cream Pot. It was smooth and creamy and the peanut praline on the top added the texture of the crunch together with the caramelized sugar. If you have to pick one dessert to try – pick the Cream Pot! The caramelized sugar was made perfectly and looked like glass which I think is the best way to judge a good caramelization.

The staff at Casa Ciuccio were friendly and upbeat and have a wealth of knowledge in terms of the drinks on the menu and the food. Our waitress was very helpful in suggesting what dishes we wanted and if we had ordered enough. There is nothing better than having these qualities in your staff. Casa Ciuccio is a great place to experience some European dining that has a homely and rustic feel to it.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Donkey Express Lunch Menu – There are two menu’s to select from and costs $35 for 2 courses and a glass of wine – http://www.casaciuccio.com.au/pdf/Casa-Ciuccio-donkey-express.pdf
Dinner Menu – http://www.casaciuccio.com.au/pdf/Casa-Ciuccio-menu.pdf
Private Dining Menu – You can select from the $65, $75 or $85 menus – http://www.casaciuccio.com.au/pdf/Casa-Ciuccio_Private-dining-menus.pdf (You will need to make a reservation for private dining)
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely and Rustic – classically European
Standout Dish: Octopus Tentacle
Service: Fantastic and Attentive and very helpful!
Online Booking:No, You will need to call up. They take reservations for Groups of 4 or more
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.casaciuccio.com.au/
15 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Tel No: 848 88150

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 12pm to 11pm
Friday: 12pm to 1am
Saturday: 12pm to 12am
Closed Sundays

Casa Ciuccio on Urbanspoon

Builders Arms Hotel – Restored Bistro & Bar

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My work friends and I were after a place for dinner on a Sunday night and decided on Builders Arms. It was one of the places on my list for a while now and luckily it was one of the places that was open on a Sunday night. Builders Arms is located on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy and is housed in a landmark public house, which has been restored and renewed. The team behind this is Andrew McConnell (Cumulus Inc, Cutler & Co), business partner Anthony Hammond and chef Josh Murphy they have turned this place into not so ordinary pub.

The team has mostly left the Builders Arms unchanged, but the addition of wooden floors and white interior is reminiscent of McConnell’s other places like Cumulus. It is somewhat a modernized classy pub. The dining room in the heart of the Builders Arms Hotel is called Moon Under Water, and is a place that I want to come back and try. The name comes from George Orwell’s essay. Moon Under water provides a degustation menu of 4 courses and you can book dinner from Wednesday through to Sunday, as well lunch on Sundays.

As you walk in through the entrance, you are greeted by the pub, where there are high tables that you can sit at. If you keep walking through into the next section there is a smooth transition into the bistro area which is where we were seated for dinner. The night that we were there, Grossi Florentino himself was seated at the table next to us. The tables are wooden and comfortable and really do set the scene from an old school movie with modern touches of leather and white crockery. We are given the menu and decide on some entrees and what we want for our mains. Two of us order the Olive Toast, Oritz anchovy, pepper and I share the Chickpea salad, Marinated Carrot, Green Chilli and Shanklish with H. The Olive Toast was crunchy and flavoursome with the olive tapenade being the hero of the dish. The Chickpea Salad I think was the dish of the night for me – I loved all the flavours and textures that were presented. The marinated carrot with the chickpeas was a great combination and there was just the right amount of tang and the pleasant surprise of almonds. A definite must try dish!

For mains I was struggling to decide between the Fish Pie and the Roast Snapper. I went for the Roast Snapper, Lemon Suace and Fennel in the end, as I didn’t really feel like smoked trout which was in the Fish Pie. The Roast Snapper was a great dish and the lemon sauce was a delicious. The texture of the fish was perfect and it was grilled to just the right amount. The zucchini that was under the fish added the extra flavour. Initially I thought the serving was a tad bit small, however by the end of the dish I was quite full. For any fish lovers out there – I am sure you would enjoy this dish. H had the Fish Pie and he allowed me to try it. This dish came highly recommended by our waitress and rightly so – the pastry on the pie was out of this world – it was perfectly made and tasted buttery and magnificent! I could sit there eating this pastry all day. I don’t have a picture of what was inside, however it had Smoked Trout, Prawns, Rockling, Sorrel – all these were baked in a creamy sauce and the addition of each individual flavouring from the prawns, trout and sorrell made for a great dish. C had Steak Tartare with Traditional Condiments and said it was fresh but he has had better Steak Tartare’s before. V had the Pork Schitznel, Shredded Cabbage and Bulldog Sauce and said the dish was not bad, but her pork had lots of fat in it, so it made it a bit hard to eat the dish.

Next up was dessert – and when looking at the menu nothing really grabbed me. I was interested in trying out the Strawberry Cream, Rhubarb, Shortbread and Lemon and as L was getting it, decided to try some of his. C got two homemade scoops of ice-cream. The dessert was nice but not something that I could really rave on about. I liked the mix of strawberry and rhubarb with the crunch of the shortbread. The shortbread was quite tasty.You should also note that there is a Rotisserie Royal menu with a different type of meat being cooked each day of the week. Something that no other restaurant in Melbourne has.

Overall, dinner at the Builders Arms Hotel was pretty good especially for a chilled out Sunday dinner – it was the perfect atmosphere – casual, homely yet stylish. Builders Arms is the kind of place that people would frequent quite often for homely and delicious dishes, as well as for a casual drink with mates. Builders Arms is a great casual bistro in a great location.

NOTE:Builders Arms Hotel is also available for private functions and events which are held in the upstairs Private Dining Room

Rating :
3 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – A la Carte – refer to http://www.buildersarmshotel.com.au/bar-bistro/menu/. Each night there is a different Rotisserie Royal Menu (can also be found on the above link). There is also an over the counter menu – http://www.buildersarmshotel.com.au/bar-bistro/over-the-counter/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience:
Standout Dish: Chickpea salad, Marinated Carrot, Green Chilli and Shanklish
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No- you will need to call up
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.buildersarmshotel.com.au/
211 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Tel No: 9417 7700

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 12pm to 10pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11:00am to 10pm
NOTE: The Bar is open from noon till midnight every night, except Friday & Saturday till 1am

Builders Arms Hotel Bar and Bistro on Urbanspoon