BY BRADLEY HAWKS
The Thirsty Koala, Astoria’s new Australian restaurant, brings Queensland to Queens. Adorned with indigenous artifacts like boomerangs and didgeridoo (a long woodwind instrument) among vibrantly lit blonde onyx and pinewood-planked walls, the new menu reads like a comestible glossary of Australian terms, from jaffles and crosti to kakadu, kumara, and even kangaroo burgers with “the lot.”
Filling a longtime gap in the Queens culinary landscape, the eatery is the collaboration of three Astoria mates, Katherine Fuchs (former FDNY chief turned executive chef), Alex Styponias (Astoria-born mixologist, raised in Greece), and Christine Chellos (Aussie native and financial advisor).
According to Fuchs, the menu features “dishes that are familiar, but with an Australian flare” which she describes as “international…often British…with some Asian influences,” including herb-crusted lamb “lollies” over caramelized pumpkin; ginger beer-battered fish ‘n chips; boomerang tacos with grilled prawns (using Nixtamal tortillas); jaffles (Australian pressed sandwiches); and a variety of “crostis” (crostini).
A must-try crosti is the kakadu, an open-faced toasted sandwich with sweet and tangy kakadu plums, prosciutto, kalamata olive tapenade, shallots, house-made goat cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Burgers come as sliders or 8oz. monolithic sandwiches, available in either beef or kangaroo meat. Order it with “the lot” and it will arrive stacked with goat cheese, beet slaw, grilled pineapple, bacon, and a fried egg.
The hard-to-find marsupial meat is also available as a steak with pomegranate reduction over kumara mash.
The wild game meat is extremely lean, resembling a cross between bison and venison. The steak is best described as a sweeter filet mignon. On the flip side, there are several vegan and gluten-free options including an “Earth Chili,” loaded with edamame and black beans in a thick, piquant tomato stew. It has enough spice to warm you but not set you running to the fire hydrant.
Desserts include a lamington, with strawberry jam sandwiched between slices of yellow sponge cake, rolled in a dark chocolate ganache, then dusted with fine coconut shavings. The sweets menu is rounded out with palova, a Tim-Tam tiramisu, and extensive array of “flat whites” (Aussie espresso with microfoam) and other java featuring Intelligentsia Coffee.
Presently BYOB, the liquor license has been approved on its way. Coopers and Fosters will be served on tap, headlining a beverage program of Australian and New Zealand wines and craft beer. Aussie-inspired cocktails created by Styponias will include a Hooly Dooly caipirinha and the Gabba—a gin and honey blend named after the Brisbane Cricket Ground. Even without a bar, The Thirsty Koala has already proven itself a bloody fantastic addition to Ditmars Boulevard.
35-12 Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria
Tue-Thu 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Fri & Sat 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Sun 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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