We’ve gotten wind that Aussie restaurant Eight Mile Creek has had to take its trademark kanga skewers off the menu owing to a legal issue. A restaurant receptionist told us that a State agency (he couldn’t remember which) had decided that kangaroos were endangered, but when we asked a manager to speak on the record about why exactly skippy wasn’t being served, he said he wasn’t at liberty to discuss the matter. He indicated that it’s at a sensitive stage and he’s hoping to get kangaroo back on the menu in the upcoming weeks. (Emu carpaccio, in case you're curious, is still available.) When we visited the bar as civilians and asked an employee about the matter, we were told that it had gone to court and that the restaurant had “won” against the State of New York, but that it couldn’t yet put kangaroo on the menu because it was still “illegal.”
To be sure, details about this are still sketchy. A source who heard the story from a manager at Eight Mile said he was told it had to do with a 100-year-old law pertaining to game meat. A rep from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets indicated that she wasn’t aware of a kangaroo ban, but said that supermarkets sometimes run afoul of the Department by using suppliers that haven’t been approved. The NYSDAM has no jurisdiction over restaurants, however, so we contacted the Department of Health, and are waiting to hear back. Long Tan, which serves kangaroo meat FedExed from Australia via Jersey-based exotic-meats distributor Fossil Farms (which wasn’t reachable for comment today) isn’t aware of any sort of ban.
Kangaroo meat is said to be lean, with a gamey taste similar to ostrich, and it’s said to be environmentally preferable to beef because kangaroos produce less methane. The meat is growing in popularity according to one distributor, but a Times article indicates that kangaroos are a protected species in Australia, meaning they can’t be commercially farmed and there is a quota on the amount that can be killed in the wild. The kanga population ranges from 15 million to 50 million each year. “In Australia, kangaroos are like rabbits,” said an employee at Sheep Station who hadn't heard anything about a ban. “Although they’re a lot more pleasant to look at.”
Update: A rep from the New York City Department of Health says: “It’s certainly not us who brought them to court and it’s not our law that bans the meat It may have been possible that the meat wasn’t purchased from an approved source.”