It's time for a midweek catch up with a couple of girlfriends and the chosen venue is Supernormal Canteen.
Kirsty and I arrive together just before 7pm and we're informed by the lady in charge that she can either squeeze another stool in the window in a space that is really for 2 or we wait until 8:30pm.
We look questionably at the space she has suggested and feel bad for the couple sharing that area as we'd basically be impacting their date too. We ask her if she's sure she can get three in there and she just shrugs and says it would be squishy!
It's actually not a bad table. The stools are comfy enough and the table has plenty of surface area for lots of dishes. Slight downside is that every time the door opens, there's Winter breeze blows through and when it gets busier and people wait for tables they hover around us. But it's better than squishing or waiting till 8:30pm. I'm just surprised she didn't offer it to us.
Anyway we settle in and although Zoe is 10 minutes away we make the decisions and start ticking that order sheet.
The pickles arrive really quickly and Zoe hasn't appeared yet. Whilst pickles won't go cold, and given this is a canteen after all which gives the impression it will be speedy, we are worried that the other dishes will come out just as quick so we have to flag the waiter down and ask him to wait until our third person arrives.
After Zoe arrives, I expect the food to come out almost as quickly as the pickles but it doesn't and across the whole night, the food comes out pretty slowly which is a bit of a surprise.
The prawn yakitori arrive and they are fingerlickin' delicious. Could have had another easily! Chargrilled and smoky, combined with the sweet prawn meat and creamy mayo - just yummy.
The duck bao which Zoe shreds for us goes down well. It's really all the favourites that are as good as I remember and no surprises.
The food is the standard I've come to expect from Andrew McConnell and I don't think there's any difference to the quality when comparing to the CBD offering. It calls itself a canteen but it's not canteen prices, it doesn't feel like a canteen in setting and the speed the food comes out is also not canteen. The only canteen thing about it is perhaps the brusquely efficient way the front of house manager turns round those tables getting people in and out; a task which would be easier if the food came out quicker no doubt.
So in terms of dining experience I prefer the CBD option as it's just a bit more relaxed and the hospitality is warmer. There's little if not no price differential, the food comes out at the same pace so why wouldn't I take the non canteen option? I can't see the benefit of the canteen unless I was a St Kilda resident and didn't want to travel.