Australia’s cuisine is an adopted one, imported by the modern migrants from Europe and Asia and an aggregation of recipes, styles and techniques using a wide range of fresh ingredients – largely derived from the countries of our immigrants.
Yet the original inhabitants of this country, the Australian Aboriginal people, were incredibly clever hunters and gatherers. In Australia’s harsh conditions where early European explorers had no idea how to survive, Aboriginal people had passed on 50,000 years of experience through generations and they had a diet as healthy as we have in a modern society.
Tukka, in Brisbane’s West End, has been celebrating Australian bush tucker for years, and chef Bryant Wells has received many awards for his innovative menu. On our visit, we started with the Native Platter($21 per person) of emu, crocodile and kangaroo with native berries and a lilly pilly and Bunya nut salad – a range of tasty unique bush flavours that excite and educate. There is also a confit of Tasmanian possum ($19) or a crocodile fillet cured in wattle seed ($19).
For the main course there is a choice of seared kangaroo fillet ($29), served rare and tasty with peach and potatoes; a grilled coral trout ($30) and a terrine of rabbit ($32), an imported meat with pepperberries, quandong jelly and seasonal vegetables. All the dishes are well-cooked, tender, full of flavour and well-balanced, showcasing the wealth of food available to the original inhabitants of this land.
No doubt these meals are presented and cooked quite differently than our Aboriginal ancestors enjoyed, but the flavours are preserved and celebrated. An excellent range of local wines and beers are available by the bottle and glass to complement the unique flavours of Australia. Leave room for dessert – whilst chocolate doughnuts or apple and rhubarb pie are not native, they are worth waiting for.
The service at Tukka is professional, attentive and informative. This is formal dining with a difference. There may be an element of novelty in trying possum or emu, but here the emphasis is on fresh, quality ingredients with sophisticated, if not subtle, flavours which show that the original ancestors of this great land ate well.