Strangeloves

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As Rob and I talk with the Strangeloves guys as they prepare that night’s curry feast, Bennie makes himself scarce – I subsequently find he’s found some friendly locals to thrash at checkers.

577 Mt Alexander Rd, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9078 3574

We experienced vicariously the trials, tribulations and satisfactions as our buddy Kurt and his business partner Michael set up shop in the hospitality industry with their Moonee Ponds wine bar Stangeloves.

We made a few visits soon after hung they out their shingle.

But as its primary focus is booze, it’s struggled to find traction for son-and-dad food adventures.

Throughout, though, as the pair have worked hard at establishing themselves, they have hosted special events such as tastings, organised a modest food list of tapas-style items and made it clear to their customers that they’re welcome to order in fare from the many surrounding restaurants.

More recently, they’ve introduced $10 curry nights for Sunday evenings, the first two comprising Jamaican goat curry and beef Madras.

So it is that we venture to Strangeloves on a chilly and blustery evening with the splendid company of our next-door neighbour Rob, himself something of a veteran stalwart of western suburbs cheap eats.

Strangeloves occupies a stretch of Mt Alexander Rd just down the hill from Puckle St.

The neighbourhood is cluttered with a  diverse range of eateries, some of which shape as potential Consider The Sauce features, some of which don’t, and some – such as the swanky Greek joint Philhellene - we’d love to try when an occasion comes along that warrants that kind of expenditure.

As well as eateries, there are a number of nightclub-style bars that we presume cater to a much younger and raucous crowd than us.

It is into this environment that Michael and Kurt are trying to carve themselves a prosperous niche, and by all accounts slowly succeeding, though one should never under-estimate the hard slog that starting such a business can entail.

Michael tells me they envisaged their customer base would be an older crowd looking for a quiet, comfy and cosy place to have a drink and socialise.

To that end, they boast a cracking wine list, while Rob – who is partial to imbibing Scotch – gives a big thumbs up to the whiskey list. There’s also a small but very hip range of boutique beers.

Happily, the customer demographic has developed an unforeseen bonus aspect, in that it seems there are also quite a few  20-somethings who find such a place offers plenty.

As Rob and I talk with the Strangeloves guys as they prepare that night’s curry feast, Bennie makes himself scarce – I subsequently find he’s found some friendly locals to thrash at checkers.

Curry night at a wine bar? I keep my hopes and expectations firmly in neutral.

Unnecessarily, for it turns out Michael is a dab and experienced curry cook – and the tucker they turn on for us is top-notch and quite unlike anything any of us has eaten previously.

The white rice is studded with grains of its black sibling.

The spiced potatoes are beaut, with the onions almost becoming part of the gravy.

But the highlight is the pork curry.

This features belly pork and two kinds of bamboo – the crunchy strands of the preserved variety and the spud-like chunks of the smoked kind, which has a somewhat similar texture to the canned bamboo shoots we’re all familiar with from Chinese food.

Health food this is not, but the taste and textures impress us no end. The chilli rating is kinda high, but Bennie and I both moderate the effect by pushing several small red peppers to the side.

And at $10, we conclude this is a primo cheap eat of a thoroughly and delightfully distinctive kind.

All three of us love the pleasant and convivial couple of hours we spend at Strangeloves, and we suggest getting along to one of the Sunday curry nights  is a fine thing to plan on – before the boys move on to something else.

A warning though …

The streets around this stretch of Mt Alexander Rd are a minefield of parking restrictions ready to trap the unwary and the hasty.

So keen were we to chow down, that all three of us failed to notice the “permit holders only” signs on the side street in which we parked, costing us a $72 fine.

We were in good company – there were at least four other vehicles in he same short street similarly pinged!

For the latest curries and details of others special events, you can visit the Strangeloves website or check them out on Facebook.

Strangeloves on Urbanspoon

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