FOOD! Strange Matter

In the old Nancy Raygun space, Strange Matter tries to be both Vegan-friendly diner and club venue and ends up confused about both.

In the old Nancy Raygun space, Strange Matter tries to be both Vegan-friendly diner and club venue and ends up confused about both.

Already with 1,685 Facebook fans, and only open since late December in the heart of VCU, Strange Matter is clearly marketed to a student population but has some promising strengths.

There are a few handsome booths along each wall, with colorful, well-done murals painted on the concrete walls, and the food stands up for itself. I had the Southwest Burger ($9), with salsa, avocado, lettuce, tomato and southwest mayo. It came with a choice of sides, which include mashed potatoes, curried potato and apple hash, fries, and carrot, fennel, and apple slaw. The burger was rich and juicy, and my fries were a perfect hefty complement. My friend had the Vegan Apology ($11), a sandwich full of different meats with grilled cheese for bread. Surprisingly, he wished it came with veggies. The handwritten menu also offers breakfast till 3pm and Black Hand or Lamplighter coffee and Carytown Teas for $2.

The long bar remains, fitted with bar stools of every shape/size/style, which only adds to the schizophrenic feel of the place. You can have character without looking haphazard, and getting all the same type of bar stool would do a lot for them. The back of the room still had work ladders and buckets lying about, which seemed unprofessional for a place that’s officially open for business.

Our waitress told us their ABC license is coming “any day now.” The owners want to allow the space to be a club venue again, beginning by offering rockumentary Wednesdays on their projection screen near the stage up front. The night I went, they showed the Stones’ Gimme Shelter. The handful of people there for the movie were strangely attentive, whereas even fewer were there for food. The movie was a little too loud in that big space, so that if you were there to dine, your conversation came second.

Twelve stand-up arcade games line the back of the long room, with familiar titles like Street Fighter II and Ninja Gaiden. Answer the short survey with your bill and you get 2 free arcade credits (which is 2 quarters, since the games still only cost 25 cents a play).

Sadly, I think it will be challenging for Strange Matter to balance both its club and restaurant identity, since the club part tends to take over. With great bones and location, capable food, and unique offerings like video game tournaments, I look forward to seeing how its identity will develop.

Strange Matter
929 W. Grace Street

(For more on Strange Matter’s back story, check out our previous coverage.)

  • error

    Report an error

Holly Gordon

Holly Gordon spends her days working with Richmond’s hearty nonprofit community and her nights singing in a community chorus. She loves her feminist book club, and is always distracted by shiny things.

There are no reader comments. Add yours.