Anyone who’s throwing the old ‘Depreston’ tag around better check themselves. It’s been a good five years since you could say “Preston’s a bit shit, eh?” and really mean it.
These days there’s a bunch of great eateries leading the cultural charge—DenDeke and Takeaway Pizza are two of the best. But Stray Neighbour was there before either of them. Brothers Ben and Dan Stray opened the place up back in 2015. The plan was a quirky little wine bar that slings something better than your standard parma.
Three years since, and it’s mostly been mission accomplished.
The food at Stray Neighbour is bloody amazing. Like let’s move past the Wes Anderson-ish dog-head beer taps for a minute and take a look at the herb-crumbed chicken schnitzel with cabbage slaw. Easily in the running for best schnitty in Melbourne. And you can get it for flipping breakfast (!!)
If you’re just swinging through on your way to a fashionable soiree, there’s a bunch of bar nibbles to line the stomach (the crispy chicken ribs with spicy aioli and halloumi sliders with pickle are both rippers). Otherwise, head for the heftier mains and settle-in for a game of pool and a chinwag.
The guys have some really interesting beers up at the bar too. Choose your flavour (or your breed)—each tap is capped with a dog’s head. The Bodriggy Session IPA is always a good start, but keep an eye out for rotating specialties like Wayward’s Sour Puss Raspberry Weiss.
The wine list here has always veered toward the small-batch and the local. Ask Dan what’s interesting, or grab a bottle of the McClaren Vale Jericho Shiraz.
Funny thing—we were in an Uber the other day and the driver, who has lived in Preston all his live, is thinking of moving. “You can’t stop gentrification,” he said. Well yeah, that’s true. But it does come with perks (the world’s best schnitzel being one of them).
If Stray Neighbour kick-started the Preston revival, we say job well done.
Image credit: Griffin Simm