Can You Say Kangaroo?
I ate kangaroo. This will either draw a furrowed brow or increase whatever Q rating comes from telling people about this latest culinary adventure. Or maybe it will get you to try it yourself.
Rather than add to the collection of formulaic stories, the thought was it would be a lot more compelling – and taste-bud friendly – to find the most eclectic, obscure menu items featured in NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2017. Where better to start than Down Under — or in this case, the Upper West Side — for the Australian-infused fare of Burke & Wills (226 W. 79th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue).
The three-course lunch lets you choose one small plate, one large plate, and one dessert from the concise but diverse menu.
THE SMALL PLATE
Braised pork belly served with the most perfect-looking (and tasting) fried egg, fresno jam and faro (for those unfamiliar with faro, it is a grain very similar in look and taste to quinoa). One bite in, literally, and the hope was it would never end. You know that feeling of first sinking into a beanbag chair? Yeah, same thing happened here.
THE LARGE PLATE
Kangaroo burger, arugula, pickled onions, tomato jam, triple-fried chips (large steak fries). As explained by the friendly waiter, Danny, kangaroo meat has a venison-like quality in its texture and taste. Because of that, they cook it in 10% pork fat to better suit the American palate. It is prepared medium-rare and you would be well-served to enjoy it that way. The side of spicy aioli is nice but leave it off the burger because the savory tomato jam and delicately spiced onions work in concert to complement the flavor of the meat. And maybe if you’re lucky, you can find out how the chef masterfully toasted the bun. That was a backyard barbecue lover’s dream.
Dessert: Warm, powdered donuts with both Nutella and dulce de leche dipping sauces. A sentence like that doesn’t need further description.
All that for $29 (for $6 you can add a glass of house wine). Given the panoply of tastes and robust servings, you will leave full, happy and satisfied, content with the knowledge you got far more than your money’s worth. Bravo, Burke & Wills.