As I was walking through the hotel lobby Saturday afternoon, the concierge called me over. He had an envelope with my name on it, a note from Chef Andre. It said: “Ross’s wallaby has arrived. Will prepare it for your dinner tonight in Henry’s.”
Well, I’d asked for this but I have to say that now it was coming to fruition, I had mixed emotions. On the one hand, I’m always excited about trying things I’ve never had before–like wallaby. On the other hand, I had agreed to eat–well, wallaby. Something I’d experienced so far as either an animal that looked like a miniature kangaroo or else as a flattened road-kill. Neither image made me particularly hungry. Still, I’d asked Ross to procure a wallaby for me and he had and now Chef Andre was going to cook it.
I have to say that the menu at Henry’s rather bucked me up for what I was about to do. It was broken down into “Classics,” on the left-hand side, and “Evolution” on the right. The Classics were all the normal, boring dishes offered at most nice restaurants—salmon, filet mignon, oysters.
Evolution, on the other hand, was something a bit more exciting: Bruny Island goat, Hudson Valley wild rabbit, Wessex Saddleback pork, licorice braised leg of lamb, duck legs.
When my waitress came over she said, “Are you the gentleman that brought in the wallaby?” I told her I hadn’t exactly brought it in, but, yes, the wallaby was for me. Well, she said, Chef Andre was going to prepare it two different ways: first as an appetizer of wallaby tartare, and then as an entrée of wallaby loin. She told me the portions would be small and the Chef suggested I order a couple of other entrees to get a feel for the rest of the menu.
I figured if I was going to have wallaby tartare, I might as well just go for the whole wild thing menu, so I also ordered the Bruny Island goat (thinking maybe that was one of Ross’ animals as well), as well as the Hudson Valley rabbit. So—wallaby, goat, wallaby, rabbit.
So, you want to know, what was the wallaby like? It was wonderful. The raw meat was blended with chives, capers, smoked paprika and a little local olive oil. It was rich but not the least unctuous (wallaby has very low fat) and much more flavorful than beef tartare. The wallaby loin, rare-cooked medallions the size of half dollars, were as tender as fillet mignon but more flavorful—kind of nutty, actually. They were served on a bed of Jerusalem artichoke puree and lovely fava beans. The goat reminded me a bit of lamb—definitely a rich, full flavor with a bit of crunch to it. And the rolled loin of rabbit almost tasted like an extremely mild, large-flaked tuna. I mean, you couldn’t honestly call it gamey but it definitely wasn’t to be confused with chicken. All in all, great Tasmanian tucker.
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