Reminiscing over fond memories of his last visit to Australia, my guest suggested we dine at the only Australian bar in the city. Hearing there was kangaroo on the menu, it was a good enough a reason as any for me to visit, and cross another off the foodie bucket list.
Though “Moose’s” is also just as much a Canadian bar, as it highlights Australia and its food and drink. A point made clear by the use of a koala and a moose in their logo, and the crossing of both nation’s flags on the banner that pointed you towards the basement bar. In hindsight the restaurant’s name was also a play on its actual location.
Inside, the room was dark with wooden furniture and rust coloured walls. A showcase of Australian memorabilia stood by the door with stuffed kangaroos and wombats, signed rugby balls, team merchandise, and the possibility to purchase a souvenir cup holder for $8.
The restaurant’s decor had a similar theme. A moose bust stood guard by the bar, he showed pride with the Australian flag attached to his antler. The same blue and red with stars that lined the bar and much of the seating area’s railing as pendants.
We grabbed a booth on the step up platform, across from the actual bar. And settled down to browse through a stack of menus. It was Wednesday and we could have taken advantage of their wines at a discount. However, we didn’t want any of the “wine Wednesday” deals, but instead went for an Australian bottle, seeing as we were here more for the Aussie experience. This is the Bin 65, Chardonnay.
We were also just in time for happy hour so took advantage of the 30% off all appetizer special that would end at 7pm. We gravitated to all the Australian appies, trying those that were the most unfamiliar.
“Roo on a stick” is four herbed marinated kangaroo skewers. The meat didn’t look as appetizing as chicken, pork, or beef would. It was pasty with a dull grey colour and an iridescent sheen. I missed the darken black of a good char. As for taste it was musky, a dense flavour like that of organ meat. The herbs didn’t help, but instead only made things bitter. They were trying hard to cover the natural flavour of the meat, as apposed to highlighting it. Instead, the kangaroo was best dipped into ketchup, how Canadian. Overall, as my first taste of kangaroo I found the texture more off than the taste.
I much preferred the kangaroo meat inside a burger, ground up and mashed together as a patty. These are the “Roo sliders”, 3 miniature kangaroo burgers served on traditional damper (bun) with blueberry relish. Though I didn’t get enough flavour with this as well. I didn’t taste any sweetness from the jam, let alone blueberry. If it was dressed with once again ketchup, mustard and pickles; like an ordinary burger I would have liked it more. It also had a one dimensional flat taste, that a side of fried would have helped to alleviate in between bites.
“Battered sav” is Australia’s answer to the corn dog. It is covered in butter then deep fried with a tempura-like airy breading. It was tasty, but oily. My guest found it better than any corn dog, whereas I missed the sweeter, starchy corn breading from this interpretation. It could have also used some sweet and sour or more ketchup to dip into. It was no surprise, we used the latter, and again for the “party pack” below.
This was a set of miniature Aussie meat pies and sausage rolls covered in pastry. The meat pies were not unlike a torterie that you have with ketchup from Quebec. “Minced meat beef in Aussie ketchup”. The pastry was golden brown and flakey, but what laid beneath it was tasteless. I couldn’t taste the tang of ketchup from the Aussie version, so squeezed on the Canadian kind thick. The sausage rolls had a nice chew to them, but I didn’t get much flavour from the sausage itself. I was expecting the saltiness from pigs in a blanket, but instead got bland meat. Once again ketchup was most helpful here. I guess this Canadian-Australian bar mash up is a good idea. Cause dating a French Canadian, I know much of traditional French Canadian cuisine has you eating everything with the condiment, ketchup.
Overall we regretted our heavy order of Australian appetizers. The first bite of everything was the best. But then it just got tired. There was too much bread and meat. And looking around everyone else was ordering pub fare. Although no regrets, as my first taste of Aussie fare, and a great walk down memory lane for my guest.
Just a mention on this cute touch, when our meal began we were asked our names, and later it appeared on the bill, for a personalized touch.
Truth be told, I liked the idea of the bar, but the reason why I would visit: for the Australian food, left a lot to be desired. And the Canadian cuisine was just bar fare that you can get anywhere.
However what sets them apart we failed to try. They offer chicken parm and a lot of it, in great variety. This is what will get me back through the doors and recommending them to a specific set of people. Like the Canadian classic: poutine, they have chicken parm influenced by cuisines from all over the world. The traditional version is breaded chicken, tomato marinara sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Here the chicken remains the same, and where it gets interesting is what tops it. The “Bollywood” version had a mild curry gravy over the breaded chicken, then potatoes and cauliflower topped with paneer (a type of Indian cheese). “Uncle Sam” used mac and cheese as a topping, then topped that with bread crumbs for a crispy crust. “Oktoberfest” use mustard as the base with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese as the topping. And they are still nine more, just as interesting variations for you to choose through.
But when all you want is the classic chicken parm and plenty of it, they have a food challenge just for you. The challenge asks if you can handle a “kilo of beast”. This is a 1kg parmie and fries that tests your ability to finish it within 45 minutes. If you succeed the food is free and you get one of their moose’s tee shirt too. If you fail you pay the $35 plate in full. I am definitely planning to come back for this.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Don’t deny your cravings.