Kangaroo Burgers Hop Onto Menu at Upper West Side Australian Bistro

By Claire Oliver on July 19, 2013 6:35am 

 Burke & Wills' Chef Stan Matusevic serves a preview of the restaurant's Australian fare at the New Taste of the Upper West Side food festival last month.
Burke & Wills' Chef Stan Matusevic serves a preview of the restaurant's Australian fare at the New Taste of the Upper West Side food festival last month.
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Burke & Wills

UPPER WEST SIDE — Kangaroo is hopping onto the menu at a new Upper West Side eatery.

Burke & Wills, a "modern Australian bistro" on West 79th Street, is opening July 24 with an imaginative take on the continent's fare, the restaurant said in a statement.

Burke & Wills replaces The Sunburnt Calf and aims to be more upscale, offering a raw bar and rotisserie items including brisket, lamb kofta and whole quail. The menu also features a kangaroo burger, served with tomato jam, shaved onions and triple-fried chips, and cocktails by Greg Seider, who has worked with The Mercer Kitchen and Le Bernardin.

Burke & Wills is named for Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills, British explorers who embarked on an expedition to cross Australia from south to north in 1860.

These explorers also influenced the restaurant’s wood-paneled interior. Artwork inspired by their journals and wildlife illustrations hangs from walls that sit below an atrium-style glass ceiling, creating a bright and airy feel using natural light.

“Burke & Wills is a casual but classic place where people will feel at home, whether they’re neighborhood residents or tourists,” co-owner Tim Harris said in a statement.

Kangaroo has bounced onto menus in the city before. In February, a Queens eatery, The Thirsty Koala, began serving kangaroo burgers, sliders and steaks. In 2010, Eight Mile Creek, a former Soho Aussie outpost, reintroduced the lean meat to its menu after successfully arguing in court that kangaroo wasn't an endangered species.

The new Upper West Side bistro is one of three restaurants Harris and co-owner Matilda Boland are opening this summer under the umbrella of their new Southern Cross Hospitality Group.

Both were longtime employees of MooLife Group founder Heathe St. Clair, who passed over the keys to the Sunburnt Calf’s two locations earlier this year. The Southeast Asian-inspired Hawker Bar opened in the restaurant’s former Prospect Heights spot in June, and Manhattan Cricket Club, a cocktail lounge, is scheduled to open above Burke & Wills in September.

Hawker Bar recently got into hot water after continuing to serve alcohol without formally transferring Sunburnt Calf's liquor license.

But while the local community board in Brooklyn rejected the license transfer, the Upper West Side's Community Board 7 welcomed the new Burke & Wills, offering advisory support for its liquor license transfer earlier this month. After the community board vote, the license has to go to the State Liquor Authority for final approval.

Burke & Wills, at 226 W. 79th St., will open for dinner from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily starting July 24. It will also serve weekend brunch starting at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and noon on Sundays.

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