Surprisingly enough, in the decade and a bit I've lived in Melbourne I had never been to the Supper Inn. It's always somewhere I had meant to go, but knowing it had always been there and always would be there always seemed to be other established favourite or interesting new places to try.
The entrance to the Supper Inn is kind of strange. It's certainly clear which building it's in with the name maybe 4 metres long across the front. But the actual door you need to enter isn't marked, and the entrance to the restaurant is through another unmarked door at the top of a dodgy seeming staircase.
Go in through the door at the top of the stairs and you enter a fairly dingy and dated room, although not one without character. One thing I didn't really appreciate was being told off by one of the staff for not leaving a phone number when leaving a booking for that night on the answering machine. Given the chance that my 6.30 booking would go astray I arrived early, around 6.20, so there was never an issue about whether we were arriving or not, and as I'd left it so late to book if no tables were available we would have just gone somewhere else. A nice polite reminder to leave my number next time (which I should have) would have been more than sufficient.
Chewy recommended we order the suckling pig, which we did. The crackling on the skin was good, richly coloured and crispy, but there wasn't as much meat with the dish as I was expecting and as a whole the dish was disappointingly small given the price.
The second dish we ordered were the scallops with spring onion and ginger. This was more generous in size than the pork, with numerous if small scallops. Taste wise I'd describe it as reasonable rather than good. The combination of the white scallops and green spring onion did look good, and I think they could have improved the dish quite a lot by taking a bit of care with the presentation.
The third and final dish was the beef with black bean sauce. This was the most generous serve of the dishes. For a dish I don't always like, the beef was nicely cooked and the sauce wasn't added in such quantities that it overwhelmed the flavours of the other ingredients, which happens disappointingly often. Three dishes all reasonable - no hits but no real misses either.
Average or maybe slightly above food for Melbourne Chinatown, I strongly suspect this place thrives on what may have once been a well deserved reputation as a Melbourne institution, and the fact that it is open until the early hours of the morning. I found the set up crowded and dated but still kind of fun, but was put off a bit by the staff. The food came outr easonably fast but a smile and a bit of politeness to customers never hurt anyone guys. I'd go back if my preferred places in Chinatown were closed or full, but I can't see Supper Inn becoming my Chinese restaurant of choice.
Food - 6.5
Ambience - 7
Service - 6
Cost - 6.5
15 Celestial Ave
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9663 4759