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Restaurants & Bars 8

Burke & Wills, 79th & Broadway, UWS

JeffOverley | Aug 16, 201310:24 AM

Anybody else been to this Aussie-inspired place yet? I stopped by last weekend and was pleasantly surprised. Normally wouldn't post this, but given that so much buzz surrounds any remotely promising restaurant opening on the UWS, figured it was worth an exception, since I've heard barely any chatter about the spot.

Here's my Yelp review (five stars, food pics at link):

(Absurdly long review alert) ... This Aussie spot opened a couple weeks ago with very little fanfare, but definitely deserves some love. The main dining room has a great feel - small and tucked away in the back, featuring lots of charcoal gray and vintage black/white framed art, with a huge old-school arched skylight overhead.

Drink/food list is small for now but apparently will be expanded once any new-restaurant wrinkles are ironed out.

Speaking of drinks, they're nicely balanced and actually pretty of-the-moment in terms of going back to the classics (think gimlet, Tom Collins, whiskey sour, etc.). Wine selections hail largely from New Zealand and are solid representatives of well-known Kiwi labels (Brancott, Fernridge, etc.).

As for food, what few flaws exist are more than acceptable at this price point, not to mention at a newly opened spot. We only tried small plates, including ...

*Bass ceviche with coconut milk, chiles and either kaffir or mint (can't recall) - strong fish flavor subdued by cool/spicy/herbal dressing. Really interesting.

*Beef tartare - excellent anchovy flavor, perfectly sized shards of bovine. More egg and garnish on side would be nice, and toast points would be better than baguette, but those are very minor issues.

*Merguez sliders - cooked medium-rare, the rich lamb countered by cool cucumber and soft potato buns with natural sweetness. Brilliant.

*Chilled corn soup with crab - not sure I would change anything here. Lovely corn flavor, reasonable amount of shellfish.

*Oysters with cucumber mignonette - fresh, clean, what else can you say?

*Kale Caesar - finely shredded, studded with fava beans and pumpkin seeds, properly dressed, with fat rectangles of pecorino on top. Win.

*Prawns with chimichurri - huge, legitimate prawns in a vibrant sauce. The full-body presentation might be putting form over function, as it's hard to grill shrimp without overcooking while also getting rid of the nastiness between head and body (when deep-frying, that gunk is obliterated and you can happily eat the whole crustacean). That said, the shrimp were cooked very nicely, akin to a steak done medium.

Staff was on-point, and oh yeah, they play golden oldies, which deserves a sixth star. Good times.

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