463-467 Plenty Road, Preston
Stray Neighbour’s appeal is that it brings some sophistication to the part of Plenty Road that feels a bit neglected. While the same stretch of road was revamped and ‘foodied up’ closer to the city, this part of Preston was just that little bit too far north. Stray Neighbour, various other shop fronts and food stops are changing the tide.
The feel here is classic ‘northern hipster’ with high ceilings and soft lighting produced by Edison bulbs. The fake grass, outside area can become crowded but there is the nice touch of an original boiler in the middle of the space. The restaurant is open and inviting.
First impressions were good, upon sitting a negroni order was swiftly taken to the bar and menus laid down. We chose the ‘feed me’ with the dessert option. This consisted of a chef’s selection of menu items and seemed reasonable at $55 a head. A bottle of Riesling was chosen to accompany the menu on the recommendation of the waiter.
Still no negroni…
Our croquette starter arrived with the bottle of wine. Still no negroni; we cancelled it, not much point having an aperitif with a starter. With only five wait staff and one person behind the bar, the service clearly suffered. The restaurant area was full, there was a function in another area and the beer garden was at capacity. Staff apologised for the wait between some of the meals.
The croquettes were everything that was expected; crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The beetroot and goat curd salad was nicely balanced in both flavour and texture. The sesame tuile was crispy, complementing the softness of the curd.
The kingfish dish was nothing spectacular with no technicality involved. Some sliced fish slapped onto a plate, the ‘ginger dressing’ tasted like straight up soy sauce and was splattered on top. Ordering this off the menu is $14.
The Cape Grim scotch fillet once again proved that presentation was not a priority. Chips and steak were unceremoniously dumped on the plate next to each other. The steak was cooked as asked however some parts were not rendered well, which meant portions were fatty and sinewy. The chips seemed to be frozen packet chips and therefore were overcooked, dry and tasteless. The chimichuri butter was delicious however it was not enough to save the dish. At almost forty dollars it was not worth it.
The beetroot and goat curd was nicely balanced in both flavour and texture. The sesame tuile was crispy, complementing the softness of the curd.
The decor and vibe on entry to Stray Neighbour appears to promise the perfect mix of sophisticated but simple local fare. Unfortunately the experience did not live up to the promise or the price. There were some dishes that were flavoursome, but overall the food appeared to be made and served with little love or care.
Words and Images © Amanda Hann 2017