Tomorrow, January 26, is Australia Day, which marks the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788. While I’ve never been “down under” myself, I’d visit in a heartbeat right now just to escape this exceptionally dreary winter we’re enduring in New York. But absent a business class ticket on Qantas, the next best thing is to check out the festivities at some of the city’s best Australian bars and restaurants, where the beers are big, the meat pies savory, and the servers are a lot friendlier than you’re used to.
The Sunburnt Cow in Alphabet City, Bondi Road on Rivington, and the fancy uptown Sunburnt Calf – which happen to be operated by the “Moo Life Group” – are marking the day with drink and food specials and DJ’s spinning Aussie tunage. Show up for a $20 or $30 happy hour (depending on just how “premium” your tastes are), murder a few pints of Coopers (they don’t really drink Foster’s), and sup on kangaroo sausage and Lamingtons, which are vanilla spongecake squares with strawberry jam, chocolate, and coconut. There’s also a $2 appeal for Queensland flood victims, so cough up a couple of bucks for a worthy cause.
Eight Mile Creek, meanwhile, has a beer and pie tasting (my two favorite things), as well as a special dinner menu and Tyrone Noonan of the Brisbane band George playing classic Australian music downstairs. (I’m pretty sure they’ve moved on from Men at Work, so don’t ask.)
If you’re looking for a mellower scene, take the L train to Williamsburg and head to Wombat on Grand Street, where you can toast the the Sunburnt Country with Australian wines, oysters, and Tetley Tea-marinated hanger steak, all under the loving gaze of George the Wombat (pictured).