Reporter's Notebook

Slater's 50/50 promotes kangaroo burger for September

The Southern California-based Slater’s 50/50 burger chain has something special for its Burger of the Month promotion in September: a kangaroo burger called The ‘Roo.

Controversial? Actually, like most Slater’s burgers, it’s only half kangaroo meat. The other half is ground bacon, in keeping with the six-unit chain’s everything’s-better-with-bacon philosophy.

Typically imported from Australia, kangaroo meat is a rarity in the U.S., but the burger has been a hot seller, said Brad Lyons, the chain’s executive chef. In the first four days, about 500 were sold — which is impressive considering the price ranges from $14.95 to $18.95, depending on the size of the patty requested.

It’s a premium burger: The kangaroo/bacon patty is topped with huckleberry ketchup and crushed macadamia ricotta along with melted brie. It is sandwiched within a honey wheat bun with thick-cut bacon strips, along with baby greens and radish slices.

Apparently Australians down under are reluctant to eat kangaroo. Something to do with the fact that it’s their national mammal, or something.

Or maybe it was that TV show featuring Skippy the bush kangaroo back in the late 1960s, which I watched when I was a mere babe in arms.

In every episode, good ol’ Skippy — the marsupial equivalent of Lassie — rescued little Jimmy who fell in the well or saved little Sally from a pack of wild dingoes. (This is what the anti-meat crowd should do: produce more TV programs featuring astonishingly smart and heroic livestock. Then we won’t eat them.)

Lyons, however, contends that kangaroo meat is not gamey and is very lean — though probably not so much when combined with ground bacon. Most importantly, the ‘roo meat has a terrific flavor profile, he said.

“We love having menu items that pop, but it all starts with the flavor profile,” he said. “We’re not going to put something on the menu that doesn’t fit.”

Slater’s Skippy burger, er, The ‘Roo, will be available through the end of September. Hint for next month’s: Slater’s may go a bit Gangnam style with the flavors of Korean barbecue.

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Reporter's Notebook is NRN's newsroom blog, where our editors give their points of view on news happening in the restaurant business.

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