Contrary to what most people think, us Aussies don’t eat a lot of Kangaroo. It’s not a staple on our primary school canteen menu, and personally, I've never had it cooked for me at home. It is good for you though: super lean, low fat, and a good source of protein, iron and zinc.
So if you see it on a Melbourne menu, what do you do? Well, if you're eating at any of the places below, we say give it a crack. These guys are doing the best kangaroos dishes in Melbourne right now. Hop to it (sorry).
Seasonal fresh produce, cooked to perfection over giant flame pits. That's what you can expect from Matilda. Finny then that one of their best dishes isn't cooked at all. It's Scott Pickett's kangaroo tartare with sweet, fermented red peppers. Kangaroo is pretty gamey, like venison, so you want to cook it rare. Scott takes it to the next level with this one: silky smooth, with crispy Buckwheat crisps to shovel it into your gob.
If you want to know what's happening on the cutting edge of Australian native cuisine, swing by Altair out in Warrandyte. Chef Kelvin Shaw runs the show here with his wife Michelle. The menu is seasonal, but there's usually a kangaroo on there. At the moment it comes seared, still pink in the middle, with a simple medley of radicchio, beetroot and native plum. Still one of our favourite places in town. These guys were using finger limes and green ants before it was cool.
The Meat & Wine Co
Southbank, Hawthorn East & South Yarra
World class produce (including the exclusive line of Monte Beef) make The Meat & Wine Co a reliable date night banger. They're also doing an excellent kangaroo skewer: think medium rare loin with buttered potato, native bush spices, tomato chutney and crispy onion rings. Good alternative if you want something leaner than the marbled Scotch fillet. Hawthorn East is probably our favourite venue of the three, but we're not fussy.
With a whopping $275pp set menu, Ben Shewry and the gang at Attica know they've gotta prove themselves each and every night. Good thing it's officially one of the World's 50 Best restaurants. The roo is one of Shewry's signature classics: a salted fillet, served with native currents purple carrot and bunya bunya puree. You can only get it as part of the degustation, but it's worth the 57 courses just for one more mouthful...
Dinner By Heston
First, we acknowledge that you’re really going to have to roll the dice to get a booking at this place. But mark my words, if you do, you’re in for a treat. With a long list of awards, the dining experience at Dinner by Heston definitely lives up to the name. Good to see the UK's bespectacled genius digging our native fauna too. He's dishing up a curried kangaroo tail (you don't see many of them around town), kicked upp with saffron, red wine and amaranth. It's so, so good.
Steak Ministry Bar & Grill
Steak Ministry is good for everything from group hangs to date nights. The contemporary décor delivers a smooth ambience, and don’t forget to ask staff for wine pairing suggestions. The dish you want here is the "chopped" Cured Kangaroo Loin with a herby Lemon Myrtle labneh, mountain pepper cracker and winter veggies. Lemon Myrtle and kangaroo go together like peaches and cream (note: kangaroo goes terribly with both peaches and cream).
Rare Steak House
One of Melbourne’s finest steakhouses, Rare Steak House is all about the A-Grade beef. In fact, we feel weird telling you not to order a cow here. These guys source beef from across the country, ranging from Gippsland and Ballan in Victoria to Murray Bridge in South Australia and Rockhampton in Queensland. The roo here is great though: a grilled backstrap, served with sweet potato chips, green beans and a red wine jus. Good if you're on a gym kick and want some extra protein (minus the calories).
Image credit: Griffin Simm