The kangaroo steaks sold out last night, the first time they were on the menu at Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis and, as far as we know, in the Twin Cities ever.
Executive chef Joe Wuestenhagen added it to the menu after extensive testing showed that diners would like it.
"I thought he was joking," said co-owner Cynthia Gerdes as she remembered her surprise at the suggestion of serving the 'roo. Then she headed to the Internet to do some research on the meat and found that it was considered to be both healthful and to have a lower environmental impact. "Greenpeace has endorsed more kangaroo consumption," she said.
That's because the 'roo is not a farmer friendly animal."These are animals that are ruining Australia's lands. Farmers are shooting them," Cynthia said."I never researched a food so much in my life. We don't put an item on the menu to gain some ink," she said.
The upside of kangaroo: No methane gases from the animals (unlike for cattle). They don't damage soil, because they don't have hooves. All-organic meat, as these are wild. The meat is lean.
The downside: People think of kangaroo as a cuddly creature.
"Some people might give us a little backlash, or a lot. That's why I had to think this through," said Cynithia. "In a perfect world, no one would eat meat. But they do eat it. And it's a huge part of restaurants' menus."
She noted that when bison was first introduced to the Hell's Kitchen menu 11 years ago, many restaurant owners raised their eyebrows about that. Bison? Who would eat that? Now it's de rigueur on many menus.
So how does kangaroo taste? (And no, it's not like chicken.) The restaurant reports that the meat has a beefy, slightly sweet and smoky flavor.
"We didn't know how well this would be received, but sold out in one night? This took us totally by surprise," she said.
Initially they are preparing the kangaroo only as steaks. "Our purpose is to get people to try it on the menu," said Cynthia.