Tag Archives: Thirsty Koala

Queens restaurants serve up kangaroo, alligator, other exotic meats


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks

Looking for something new to try?

Even in New York City, adventurous foodies can get bored. But people looking for a taste of the exotic can find plenty of options in Queens.

In Astoria, the Thirsty Koala serves kangaroo burgers, sliders and steaks.

“The wild game meat is extremely lean, resembling a cross between bison and venison,” Queens Courier dining writer Bradley Hawks said after trying the kangaroo dishes. “The steak is best described as a sweeter filet mignon.”

Kangaroo burger 

Moving from marsupials to reptiles, Max Bratwurst und Bier German Restaurant has rattlesnake and alligator on the menu.

“Believe it or not, the [rattlesnake and alligator bratwursts] are very popular, especially among the young crowd,” said Fiori, a manager at the Astoria restaurant.

He described the rattlesnake as tender and flavorful. The serpent is combined with pork to make the bratwurst because rattlesnakes are expensive and have little meat on them.

The alligator bratwurst tastes like chicken, Fiori said.

The restaurant decided to add exotic meats to the menu as a way of standing out from other area eateries.

They wanted to “make a challenge” for their customers, said Fiori, who sometimes hears diners daring each other to try the alligator or rattlesnake bratwurst.

Alligator is also on the menu at Sugar Freak in Astoria.

Its popcorn alligator dish is made by deep frying the meat and serving it with a spicy, tangy grape jelly sauce.

Slightly less adventurous diners who still want to try something new can head to Alobar Restaurant in Long Island City or one of four Bareburger locations in the borough.

Alobar offers familiar meat, but served in an exotic way.

Its Amish pig tails are exactly what the name implies.

“It was one of those approachable items that people aren’t afraid of trying, especially the way we prepare them,” said executive chef Michael Rendine.

The tails, which are six to eight inches long, are deep fried and covered in house barbecue sauce. Rendine said you eat them like ribs or chicken wings.

Originally an everyday menu item, the pig tails are now only served as a Tuesday night special. But Rendine added that people come in and ask for the dish all the time.

Amish pig tails

Bareburger, on the other hand, offers a familiar way of eating meat made from an unusual animal.

In addition to the typical beef and turkey burgers, diners can order ostrich, wild boar, elk and bison on their buns.

Manager Bobby Kumar said customers like the ostrich because it tastes similar to beef, but is lower in cholesterol and 98 percent lean. He added that they enjoy bison and elk, which are also red meats, for the same reasons.

Wild boar is leaner than beef, but has a similar texture to ground pork.

“We’ve become very well known for our exotic meat,” Kumar said. “After some people try it, some people fall in love with it.”

 

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The Thirsty Koala brings Queensland to Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Bradley Hawks

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.

Thirsty Koala
35-12 Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria
(718) 626-5430
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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