Winter at The Thirsty Koala
By Ilija Sekulovski
So, let’s get straight to it. I grabbed a fellow food lover, and we tried a spattering of lots of appetizers and entrees, and a few desserts. Most of these are from the daily menus – I’ll bring you all a brunch review soon, promise.
We started with the corn and jalapeno fritters, which are Red onion, jalapeno, parmigiano reggiano, and coriander, and the Thea’s meatballs, which are 100% grass-fed beef, garlic, onions, tomatoes. served with field greens, lime vinaigrette and a thai basil yoghurt sauce. The meatballs are gluten free, and the fritters are vegetarian. These were probably my favorite appetizer – the meatballs, which actually come from an original recipe crafted by owner Christine’s mother, and have Chef Kathy Fuchs’ unique twist on them, are fluffy and juicy, as compared to traditional meatballs. The corn and jalapeno fritters were equally fluffy – and not as spicy as you’d expect something with jalapeno to be! They were really palatable – and I loved the pairing of the home made sweet chili sauce.
We moved on to tacos – I grabbed the octopus, and my companion had the chorizo. Her favorite part was the mixture of flavors between the chorizo and avo salsa, with the lightness of the salad. My favorite part was the fact that I had an entire octopus tentacle on my plate. Seriously, look at that. The texture of octopus is comparable to a soft meat, like chicken, and it paired really well with the chipotle sauce – but if spicy isn’t your thing, use small portions – the sauce was seriously kicking.
At this point, we were pretty stuffed, so we took a food coma break with some drinks. We had the Koala Pimms special, which is lemonade, club soda, cucumber syrup and fresh strawberries, and the Gimme a Pash, which is Rum, coconut juice, cucumber syrup, lime wedges and mint leaves. Both were really refreshing – the Pimms tasted like really light cucumber juice, and the strawberry and cucumber slices were a nice touch. The GImme a Pash was strong and like a really great mojito. Also – I had a glass of wine called Jealous Bitch, because how could I not.
We moved on to the sausage rolls, which are 100% minced grass-feed beef, pork, pork belly, fennel seeds, shallots, tomato and herbs wrapped in puff pastry, and the burrata, which is creamy ricotta in a fresh mozzarella shell, seasonal fruit and pesto. Of course, like everything else on the menu, Chef Kathy makes it all from scratch – and if you’ve never had homemade cheese, you’re missing out. For real.
Finally, it was entrée time. I know what you’re thinking: there’s more? Oh yes. Filet Mignon and Barramundi Amandine. You guys. I love meat. I am a meat lover. You could feed me a steak every day and I’d be happy. You could feed me filet mignon every day and I would literally be in heaven. But that’s probably not safe, so I’ll stick to treating myself on occasion.
The filet mignon was sent out with Thai basil yogurt sauce, and I have never thought about that pairing before…but oh my. Seriously, if there is one entrée I think everyone should try, it’s the filet mignon with that sauce. The barramundi amandine, Australian sea bass, citrus beurre blanc, capers, shallots, fresh herbs with a choice of side (we had the sautéed field greens), was equally wonderful, and if you like fish, this is definitely a great choice.
And now for dessert. There was vegan key lime mousse (avocado whipped with fresh key lime juice and sugar resting on a raw walnut cinnamon crust) and sticky date pudding. Chef Kathy told us the sticky date pudding is a special she’ll be offering through the holidays – it’s not on the regular menu, but we literally melted. Seriously – this is supposedly a classic Australian dessert, and I can completely see why. I easily have a new favorite dessert. The vegan mousse was extremely light and refreshing – think Key lime sorbet almost, mixed with a really great nutty crust.
Overall, I really love the new additions to the Thirsty Koala menu. Like always, the service was phenomenal – I always love that I can look up from my food and see all three owners – Christine, Alex, and even Chef Kathy, fluttering between tables, talking to customers, and keeping the restaurant in good spirits and not just running things from afar. Like every visit, I’m already itching for my next meal at The Thirsty Koala.
Did I mention they have a gorgeous Christmas tree up? ‘Cause they do.
The Thirsty Koala
35-12 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria, NY 11105