Andrew McConnell is taking over NGV this summer

Japanese potato salad at Supernormal Natsu

Japanese potato salad at Supernormal Natsu

Natsu brings Japanese potato salad, grilled things on sticks and bento picnics to the Melbourne Triennial.

Art meets life meets lunch in Melbourne this new year as Supernormal pops up at the National Gallery of Victoria. Supernormal Natsu, a full-service version of Andrew McConnell's celebrated modern-Asian eatery, takes over the existing Garden Restaurant from January 19 to 28 as part of the Triennial Extra Festival.

The Triennial, which opens on December 15, has been called the NGV's most ambitious project to date, featuring the work of more than 100 artists and designers from 32 countries. So it seems only fitting, especially in a city where art and food so often intersect, that one of the biggest names in Australian restaurants is part of the picture.

Open from noon till 10pm daily for its run, Natsu takes its name from a haiku term, natsumeku, which describes the turn of the season to summer, and while the name and setting might suggest aesthetic delicacy, the food offer is all about casual warm-weather fun.

The menu is new for the venue rather than a port of the Flinders Lane original, so you won't quite be able to pair your Guo Pei with a lobster roll or get a dashi cracker dotted with caviar to go with your Yayoi Kusama, but there's lots here to like.

The hibachi is set to fire up for yakitori, and chefs will be cramming bao with good things. There'll be quail cooked in flatbread with lemon, a flounder made for feasting with egg-drop sauce and crab fried rice, while fans of Japanese potato salad may be excited to hear of the Natsu take on the genre, which brings sea urchin roe and cured egg yolk into the fold. To beat the heat, seafood will be served on crushed ice, the soba comes cold, and the menu runs long on vegetable dishes.

McConnell says he loves the idea of people spilling out onto the lawn in the garden with a picnic, and to this end his team has packed up bento boxes of pickles, vegetables, seaweed salads and savoury dishes.

"The Triennial Extra Festival is an incredible celebration of art, music and fun in the cultural hub that is the NGV," says McConnell, "And we get to do what we love to do in one of the most beautifully situated dining rooms in the city. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?" 

Supernormal Natsu, noon to 10pm daily, 19-28 January, National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, Vic, supernormalnatsu.com


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