BITE OF THE MOMENT: Burke & Wills

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[All photos by Conor Rose]

January 2nd isn’t typically the day most people would go out for a hefty lunch and some day drinking, but in an era when “self care” and “treat yo’self” are trending, we decided to go all out and begin the year on a decadent note. Burke & Wills, housed on the Upper West Side behind a facade reminiscent of old NYC steakhouses, is actually home to a chic, Australian influenced bistro in both food and decor (a print of a human vs. kangaroo boxing match hanging on the dining room wall was a favorite of ours).

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Treating ourselves began with cocktails. About that draft Old Fashioned – draft cocktails can mostly be a miss, but we could have been fooled that this was actually crafted by hand, with just a very slight sweetness and an impeccable presentation. Large single ice cubes and a simple orange peel garnish are key! For me, the ideal cocktail would be described as gin based with some lime, preferably light green in color, poured into a not annoying to hold vessel, so the My Happiness hit the spot on all those points.

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In hopes of integrating some veggies into the young New Year, we split the Roasted Beet Salad for our appetizer.  As active beet salad orderers, this one makes it into the top tier, composed simply as it should be with fresh ingredients, goat cheese fritters and candied hazelnuts.

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For entrees, we chose the roasted salmon topped with a fresno chili jam, atop a brandade (which I just had to Google and it’s a salt cod/potato puree) which was filling, and the salmon was both crispy and tender.

Their signature Kangaroo Burger surprised us twice – thinking it might be too gamey and too rare to our liking (as they hadn’t asked our cook preference), we were wrong. The juicy burger was topped with tomato jam, pickled onions, arugula, a fluffy, lightly toasted bun, and a side of triple fried french fries (chips!).

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There is perhaps no better dessert to round out brunch than coffee poured on top of ice cream, so we ended the meal with their affogato – gelato dressed with brownies and a shot of espresso on the side, waiting to be poured all over that gelato. One thing I know about Australians is that they definitely know their coffee, and as a newly minted coffee snob, the shot was expertly pulled.

As someone who knew literally nothing about the Australian diet besides vegemite and Tim Tams, this small foray into their cuisine (and history – Google Burke & Wills the explorers, I just did!) has me intrigued. Hop along (kangaroo pun, sorry, not my idea) to Burke & Wills to find out a little bit more about cuisine Down Under.

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For more photos, click here. This meal was provided by Burke & Wills, however all opinions are our own.