Sydney's best kangaroo
Such is the Australian cultural peculiarity that the kangaroo not only adorns the national emblem and TV shows, but also dinner plates across Sydney.
Lean, healthy and apparently beneficial as the meat may be, it's probably not surprising that it is tainted with "Skippy Syndrome" -- a public sympathy for not wanting to devour Joey’s mum.
But it's versatile, good value and has the added kudos of being entirely free-range, unfarmed, methane-free and sustainably managed. It tastes pretty good, too.
On whichever side of the fence you hop, here are five takes on a plate of 'roo in Sydney.
Char-grilled 'roo at Blackbird Café
OK, it’s not going to win awards for originality, but where else can you depend on finding a char-grilled tender kangaroo loin glazed in chef's special orange marmalade sauce ($29.90) at any time of the week?
It helps that the 'roo in question is perfectly cooked and paired with steamed veggies, making it tip-top in the healthy stakes.
On account of its low fat content, kangaroo's not the easiest of meats to master, becoming easily overcooked or tough, so Blackbird's spot-on loin is a rare find: the pink meat and bloody juices adding umami-laden depth to the sweet citrus sauce.
It's a generous portion, so bag a window seat and let your meal go down whilst watching the world -- and tourist boats -- go by.
Blackbird Café, Balcony level, Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour, +61 (0)2 9283 7385, 8 a.m.–11 p.m. daily.
'Roo pizza at the Australian Hotel
No quibbling over this one –- get to The Rocks and tuck into a kangaroo pizza at the heritage-listed Australian Hotel, equipped with marble wash-rooms and an old-world feel.
A bastion of all things fair dinkum, there are more than 100 Aussie beers to choose from (no imports) so it may come as no shock that the kangaroo pizza ($25.90) is the most popular (and certainly least Italian) pizza on the menu.
Strips of meat are marinated in native mountain pepper and served with roasted capsicum, cranberries and lots of gooey cheese. Not the healthiest take on Skippy, but there aren’t many better ways to fill up whilst sampling the beers and wines amongst colonial charm.
The Australian Hotel, 100 Cumberland St., The Rocks, +61 (0)2 9247 2229, Sunday-Thursday 10:30 a.m.-midnight, Friday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-1 a.m.
Raw or cooked 'roo at Kingsley’s Steakhouse
On a cold winter night, Kingsley's cosy warmth hits the spot -- old stone walls, low ceilings, exposed beams, wooden floorboards and immaculate service.
There’s an excellent take on the 'roo fillet here -- a worthy alternative to steak -- served with onion and juniper jam and a mayo-free Italian coleslaw ($31.50).
Kingsley's also serves the more unusual carpaccio with celeriac and horseradish remoulade ($17.50), which elevates raw Australian fare to a thing of elegance and sophistication. The wafer-thin, uncooked, translucent meat sits delicately alongside the rich, mayo-heavy remoulade.
Up the cosiness ante with a good red wine and again, 'roo proves its value as a meat for dedicated carnivores –- best raw or cooked as little as possible.
Kingsley's Steakhouse, 29A King St., City, +61 (0)2 9295 5080, Monday-Friday noon-3 p.m., 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 6 p.m.-10 p.m.
French 'roo at Restaurant Paradox
Anachronistic, honest and good value, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Paradox in Crow's Nest -- especially if you're after a taste of Cordon Bleu cookery. It's not modern, glamorous or trendy, but what owner and chef Michel Delcour lacks in snootiness, he makes up for in flawless French food -- and a firmly European take on 'roo.
A kangaroo steak tartare is faultless – deliciously peppery, bright meat and plenty of punch from capers and shallot turn the boomer into an entrée of which Escoffier himself would be proud.
Kangaroo fillet with green peppercorn sauce is a pleasure, too. The sauce -- usually paired with steak –- is rich and fiery and does well to cut through the subtle gaminess of cooked 'roo. Bon appetit, mate.
Restaurant Paradox, 98 Falcon St., Crow's Nest, +61 (0)2 9956 8898, Monday–Saturday 7 p.m.–late.
BYO, three courses $49.
Fillet of 'roo with a view at the Clovelly Hotel
The pub with a decent view is a wonderful thing -- and The Clovelly Hotel's (or "Cloe") view opens onto the ocean and rocky headlands of the eastern suburbs shoreline.
Thankfully, its food can stand up to the setting and their 'roo dish ($26) is no exception. Great value posh pub grub it is -- proven by the sliver of truffle topping my 200-gram kangaroo fillet.
Things are kept simple so that flavours aren't hidden -- choose a sauce from the list (the chef recommends parmesan aioli and gravy on the side and who are we to disagree?), and pair your posh kangaroo with a big bowl of hot chips and a cold beer. We'll drink to that.
The Clovelly Hotel, 381 Clovelly Road, Clovelly, +61 (0)2 9665 1214, Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-midnight, Saturday 10 a.m.-midnight, Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.