By Tara Kyle
SOHO — Two years ago, Aussie outpost Eight Mile Creek lost its signature dish to a New York State law citing kangaroos as an endangered species.
But now, marsupials are back on the menu.
A lawyer for the SoHo restaurant has successfully argued that most kangaroo species aren’t endangered, making way for Eight Mile Creek's patrons to once again sample $10 kangaroo skewers (served with a purée of roasted garlic, red peppers and berries) or a $29 kangaroo loin (with a rosemary-infused sweet potato mash and a reduction of veal bone, shitake and red wine).
“A lot of foodies love it,” Eight Mile Creek co-owner Andrew Jordan said of the meat, which reappeared on his menus in the past few weeks.
A New York State law prohibiting the sale of certain wild animals used to include kangaroos as a blanket term. But after lobbying by Eight Mile Creek, the rewritten law now prohibits only the Tasmanian Forester Kangaroo, which is on the endangered species list.
Jordan said the kangaroo meat marks a return to a time when the controversial delicacy was the best-selling item for patrons ordering catering, bar munchies and sit-down dinners.
Eight Mile Creek had to stop selling the meat in late 2008, when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation intervened, Jordan said. The timing at the height of the recession and the popularity of the meat until that point made a substantial impact on business, according to Jordan, a Sydney native.
“We had people sit down, see the menu, we’d be pouring the water and they’d say, ‘where’s the kangaroo?’” Jordan said. “Then they would get up and leave.”
The Australian government estimates the kangaroo population to be in the tens of millions — but they're still not eaten as commonly as chicken or beef. Jordan compared the status of kangaroo meat as an emerging dish in Australia to US counterparts like buffalo, elk or moose.
Kangaroo is best served medium-rare, Jordan said, and Eight Mile Creek customers who want it cooked more than medium are encouraged to change their order.
“It’s really lean meat, if you overcook it, it gets really stringy,” he said.
Otherwise, kangaroo’s flavor is not dramatically different from other popular meats, Jordan said -- leading to frequent confusion whenever parties share skewer orders with a large group.
“You’ll have a collection of girls and boys,” said Jordan, “and they say, ‘where did you get this beef from?’”