As I searched for a good Australian restaurant, I found this place with cute name, Thirsty Koala in Queens. With high ratings, we headed out for Australian Brunch! We arrived few minutes after they opened, and we were welcomed by a giant fluffy koala and baby koala, all ready for Halloween.
The inside was larger than it looked from the outside. I liked the simple decor, the tear-drop looking light was really pretty. They had photos of Australian landscape and such, also some artifacts as well. There were not many people there when we arrived, but in about 30 min or so, it became really busy.
The front wall facing the street can be opened up entirely, extending the dining area onto the street. With this, it had lots of natural lights coming from the outside, making it nice and bright.
We started off with Flat White ($4.25), after falling in love with one from Hugh Jackman’s Laughing Man (you can read about it here: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/laughing-man-coffee-tea/). The coffee came in a bright colored mug, and the mug was really heavy, even when it was empty. The flat white was just ok, not great compared to the one from Laughing Man. And since it was not just regular coffee, no free-refill.
We ordered Fried Calamari ($13.50) from the “small plates” section of the menu as appetizer. I thought the price was a bit high for “small” plates, but I heard that their calamari is really good, so I figured it must worth the price. It is made with their special gluten free flour mix, and served with sweet chilli & Thai basil yogurt sauce. It had good amount of calamari, more than enough to share among two people. It was lightly fried, really nice and crispy on the outside, not greasy at all. The calamari was still plump and had good texture.
The sweet chilli saucewas nice, it was sweet and spicy, and went well with the calamari. The Thai basil yogurt sauce was ok. It was not as flavorful as the sweet chilli sauce, but more like plain yogurt.
From here, it went really slow motion. It took a while for our main dish to come out. We ordered Burger with the Lot (Australian Grass-Fed Beef) $16.50) to share. It is made with 100% Australian grass-fed beef, grilled pineapple, Canadian bacon, fried egg, beet slaw, akudjura remoullade, caramelized onions, Tasmanian pepper berry demi glaze, fresh lettuce, sliced fresh tomato, sliced fresh red onion. Oh my, it really was a mouthful. It is also served with fries with the side of ketchup and sweet chilli sauce.
I was so excited for this burger, from the moment I saw a photo of it. When it (finally) arrived at our table, I was surprised to see a patty in a shape of a round ball. It was just sitting there in a middle, with all the other toppings and buns being bigger than the patty, creating dead space around the patty. I am not sure the reason why they made the patty into a ball, but it was very difficult to eat. As everything else was bigger than the patty ball, they fell apart around the patty. It tasted good, but the effort it required to eat it was a bit much. The beet slaw on the burger was new thing for me, I am not a big fan of beet, but it added really nice, fresh flavor the to the burter.
The fries were nice, not too special, but it was soft and potato-y. The sweet chilli sauce was interesting with the fries, not great together, but it was something different.
Throughout out our meal, I don’t remember our server ever coming to check on us. But, other staffs took care of us with removing dirty plates, refilling weather, bringing our food…well, basically, they did everything. I think our server kind of forgotten about us, didn’t event know if our appetizer came out. When we were about to finish up with our burger, he all of a sudden looked at our table and asked “did the appetizer come out? Oh it did? I missed that. Hahaha!”…I guess it was funny to him that he was obviously NOT paying attention to our table. But that didn’t change his behavior. After we finished our food, other staffs came to pick up the dishes, cleaned off the table, and gave up new napkins and silverware. Then, we sat there for 5-10 min while waiting for our server to come give us a dessert menu. When no one came, we had to grab one of the staffs to ask for the dessert menu.
I wanted to try couple of typical Australian desserts, so we ordered Pavlova ($7) and Lamington ($7). They are both gluten free. The desserts also took a little while to arrive. Pavlova is a light fluffy meringue cake topped with fresh cream, seasonal fruits and fresh passion fruit syrup.
I had a high expectation for this dessert, and it was so much better than I thought it would be. The meringue was decadent, sweet, and yet light. The fresh cream was velvety and strawberries were fresh. The passion fruit syrup was kind of sour and provided good contrast to the sweet meringue pie. It was sooo good, each bite just melt in your mouth…
Lamington is said to be an Australian favorite, light fluffy sponge cake sandwiching a thin layer of strawberry preserve rolled in chocolate butter cream and coconut. It was a small, almost square-shaped cake, with sort of Jackson Pollock chocolate drizzle. I feel like the chocolate was just there to fill the empty space on a large plate, left by dessert that is too small for the plate…
Regardless, it looked very interesting. When I cut them open, I saw a thin layer of strawberry just as they said. It was a good, fluffy piece of cake. There was something very comforting about this dessert, I can see it being popular among kids and adults alike.
Overall, the brunch was good, not great. The desserts were awesome, which was the highlight of the brunch. The burger was good, but the roundness of the patty and how difficult it was to eat it was more memorable than the actual taste. The slow service was a bit too slow. The table next to us felt the same way, and that they had to grab one of the staffs to go check on their food, since it was taking so long to come out. If there was no other staff assisting, and we only had our server, it would have been a disaster. Thank you to all the other servers for helping us have a better experience!
The Thirsty Koala – 35-12 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105