Restaurant News

Supernormal, Tomahawk Bar, El Público, La Boca Bar & Grill

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week.

Supernormal, Melbourne

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week, including Supernormal, Tomahawk Bar, El Público, and La Boca Bar & Grill.

The opening of a new Andrew McConnell eating house will always set Melbourne hearts aflutter, so it's been an exciting week for many in town with Supernormal finally throwing open the doors of its new permanent home after a lengthy gestation. Street level on Flinders Lane, Supernormal is a large, sleekly outfitted (Projects of Imagination) space. It's all raw and polished concrete, with exposed utilities, timber panelling and zinc detailing - a chic, slightly austere palette that flatters the Japanese/Korean bent of the menu. Those who ate at the Fitzroy pop-up Supernormal Canteen this summer will recognise some of the dishes here - white-cut chicken with black sesame paste (pictured), sesame cucumbers, excellent house-made tofu - but the bigger space and kitchen also means a bigger menu with some particularly noteworthy raw fish dishes (duckfish with white miso and sea lettuce is a must) and a range of dumplings thrown into the mix. A smart wine list with a good range of sake, plus the promise of belting out a few tunes in the karaoke room downstairs, should see fever pitch maintained for some time. Supernormal, 180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9650 8688. MICHAEL HARDEN

Tomahawk Bar
This pared-back watering hole began pouring a tasty selection of craft beers a few weeks back - everything from Bacchus Brewing's stonking 12 per cent Death Star to Nail's oatmeal stout and BrewCult's session-worthy HopZone IPA. Food choices are ballsy; each dish incorporates beer or an element of the brewing process. Crunchy "hop-corn" chicken nibbles paired with a salty caramel dip are a cool variation on the usual beer snacks. Or try a dish of juicy, fennel-spiked pork meatballs with yoghurt and toasted barley, and torn chunks of sourdough alongside for dipping in your Nap sauce. You'll need a second drink before launching into the gutsy arancini stuffed with hop-smoked mushrooms, wheat and melty chèvre - but, you know, that's kind of the point. Cheers! Tomahawk Bar, 182 Grey St, South Bank, South Brisbane, Qld, no phone. FIONA DONNELLY

El Público
It's May the fifth every day at Perth's premier Mexican cantina. Or at least till next Tuesday when El Público calls time on its nine-day Cinco de Mayo menu. Launched on Monday, this collection of Tex-Mex favourites proves the kitchen is as adept with the greatest hits of Mexican-ish cuisine as it is with deep-cuts such as beef mogo mogo balls and cuttlefish tostadas. Take the burrito, for instance: cloaked in foil and padded with the usual refried bean and avocado suspects, it looks eerily similar to the ghost of so many late nights past, but with tender brisket and champion house condiments, it's transformed into tortilla-wrapped eating of a higher order. Fish nachos, meanwhile, flip the script by casting raw salmon as the star while relegating the corn chips (blitzed into crumbs and scattered over the plate for crunch) to the ensemble alongside zesty tomato, coriander leaves and diced onion. There's more to the menu than Old El Paso remixes, though. If fried shrimp tacos and hot wings by the pound don't get the party started, fun drinks like wacky Rogue beers from Oregon and a musky Bubblegum Spider sure will. El Público, 511 Beaufort St, Highgate, WA, 0418 187 708. MAX VEENHUYZEN

La Boca Bar and Grill
La Boca chef Nicholas Arriola arrived in Adelaide from Argentina with a headful of family recipes and a parrilla shipped from Argentina. The traditional grill in a vast charcoal-fuelled fire pit forms an impressive centrepiece at this new restaurant in the rejuvenated Stamford Plaza Adelaide. Arriola keeps it simple focusing on appealing barbecued food to share, and the menu reflects this with a larger selection of set-meal options rather than à la carte choices. Each of the five menu choices starts with an assortment of entradas comprising bread and salsas with bites of morcilla sausage, beef and onion empanadas, sweetcorn and pork cake, and mussels in creamy white wine sauce. The meal then moves onto plates of mixed vegetables and meats from the parrilla - a choice of beef, pork, chicken or lamb. It's all rich and juicy, with just the right hint of smokiness from the smouldering redgum. LaBoca Bar and Grill, 150 North Tce, Adelaide, SA, (08) 8461 0860. DAVID SLY

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