Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country this week including Pinbone, Supernormal Canteen, and Tinderbox Kitchen.
Bound to be one of the summer's hottest hotspots, Supernormal Canteen (pictured above) opened its doors this week for a six-week run in a double shopfront space in Gertrude Street, next to Cutler & Co. Billing itself as a "test kitchen" for the real Supernormal, the Japanese-leaning venture Andrew McConnell plans to open in the CBD in March, the Canteen is basically a pop-up restaurant, albeit a meticulously designed one, with an exciting pan-Asian menu from one of Melbourne's favourite food sons. Projects of Imagination are responsible for the design, favouring massed paper lanterns, concrete floors, whitewashed walls, J-Pop-inspired graphics (including a red neon sign) and elegant timber furniture made by Profile Furniture's John Foley. One of the two rooms houses a massive communal table, the perfect spot to consume a menu that's big on skewers (sesame cucumber pickles, pepper- and chilli-cured brisket, sticky chicken snacks), rolls (including the Golden Fields-inspired lobster number) and the grill (fab wood-grilled baby corn with miso butter). There's also soft-serve ice-cream with changeable toppings (peanut and salted caramel, perhaps) and a short, sharp drinks list that includes sake and Japanese whisky. Fun times. Supernormal Canteen, 53 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, Vic. MICHAEL HARDEN
Anyone lucky enough to have had a preview of the Pinbone crew's food at things they've catered or their pop-ups knows that this mob is serious about the quality of the food on the plate and the wine in the glass, but are otherwise pretty irreverent. For their opening menu at the space formerly occupied by Buzo, chefs Mike Eggert and Jemma Whiteman and maître d' Berri Eggert present the likes of chicken liver parfait chocolate crackles and a savoury, bar-snacky "fairy bread" of brioche toast buttered with mascarpone and dotted with a mixture of roes and Avruga. Those are the kookier examples, certainly, but they work. The wine list, meanwhile, is a heart-on-sleeve dear-diary note of what the team likes to drink right now, which means a lot from the Loire and Rhône with a smattering of interlopers from Heathcote and Jerez, South Africa and South Australia. And in perhaps the best news for the neighbourhood, they're opening for all-day brunching and boozing on Sundays. Sign us up. Pinbone, 3 Jersey Rd, Woollahra, NSW, (02) 9328 1600. PAT NOURSE
The new wood-fired offering from chef-owner PJ McMillan has definite spark. Carnivores will be licking their fingers, digging into Muscat-glazed quail, with blood orange and salad leaves, or tackling a slab of fork-tender, cumin-rubbed lamb shoulder, paired with house-made quince paste and scattered with smashed green olives and almonds. A decent "market garden" selection ensures veg-centric diners are catered for too. Sweet charred leeks with goat curd, are accompanied by tiny fried capers and cloves of roasted garlic, adding bursts of flavour. The brace of pizze also makes the cut. The Margherita is generously dotted with fior di latte, the supple, puffy base showing telltale marks of the huge curved, zinc-clad oven which dominates the restaurant's matchbox red and charcoal interior. Tinderbox Kitchen, 7/31 James St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3852 3744. FIONA DONNELLY
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