Dear Mr. Gold,

Yesterday I went to Outback Steakhouse for a casual lunch with my girlfriend. I’ve always liked the faux-Australian atmosphere, even if it is a tad on the hokey side. Where else can you see boomerangs nailed to walls and get to say “give me a bloomin’ onion!” without a person giving you odd looks? This time, though, scanning through the menu options,

I couldn’t help wonder about Australian cuisine and what it actually consists of. Are there any places in Los Angeles that offer an authentic Aussie experience or at least something that comes close?

Mike, Encino

Dear Mike:

There is Australian cooking — shrimp on the barbie and all that, fried eggs on the hamburgers, Vegemite on the toast and a fairly uninteresting meringue dessert called a pavlova. And then there is Australian cuisine, which is more or less an Asian-influenced market-oriented style not so different from California’s, but with rock oysters, blue-eyed cod and yabbies instead of Copper River salmon. Australia is considered a hot ticket by foodies these days, both for the restaurants and for the wine, and half the new chefs in London seem to be from the Antipodes. Unfortunately, there’s not much Australian cuisine here. Cinch, a tricked-out Japanese-fusion in Santa Monica, was opened by a Sydney-trained chef, a disciple of the great Tetsuya, but he’s long gone, and the restaurant is on hiatus. Still, Providence, the great Melrose seafood restaurant, has the delicious Australian sea bass called barramundi on the menu most of the time now — Providence would probably slide right into the eclectic Sydney restaurant scene. And if you want to be literal about the whole thing, Harmony Farms, an oddly compelling butcher shop specializing in buffalo roasts, grass-fed beef and the meat of quasi-edible animals, sells frozen packages of both emu and kangaroo. Hardcore. 2824 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta, (818) 248-3068.

LA Weekly