Cigars (and dining on actual kangaroo) in Sydney.
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OK, I did all the work for you. Kangaroo doesn't taste like chicken. By consensus it's gamey and has a metallic aftertaste. That's why you usually see it on menus around Sydney accompanied by a heavy and strong-flavored sauce. No different at Kingsley's Steakhouse and Cigar Lounge, where "Skippy" filet is served with Tasmanian Mountain Pepper BBQ Sauce. Take your cue from the name of the restaurant -- have a steak. And, of course, a cigar.
Kingsley's has a steak menu that will be familiar in name to the American visitor. Be aware, however, that this is not prime beef, though you won't be paying premium prices. The strip loin, a nearly 11-ounce New York strip steak, can be had for only $15, but it doesn't have the marbling that you'd want to give it that real beefy flavor. There is a certified Angus rump steak on the menu, as well as filets. For the more adventurous, there are steak specialties, which range from oysters to prosciutto, to king prawns to béarnaise sauce served on top of or inside the beef. If you're really hungry, you can have the Kilo T-Bone, an advertised 35.2 ounces of beef for a little more than $23. Explore the exclusively Australian wine list, but don't overindulge yourself too much; you want to be able to make it over to the cigar cabinet and then downstairs to the lounge.
Kingsley's has a better selection of Cuban cigars than many Sydney cigar shops, and it keeps its inventory in proper condition. On a recent visit the list included three Cohibas -- the Lancero, Exquisito, and Panetela. The Lancero ran $21. Most attractive of all were the several sizes of Hoyo de Monterrey. I chose a Double Corona -- not a cigar I often smoke back home due to a lack of time -- and was happy to find it had the expected nutty taste, but it also had a not-unusual problem in many Cuban cigars: a very tight draw.
I might have been better off with a Montecristo No. 2, but all the ones I've seen and tried on my visits to Asia and Australia have tended to be mild. A better choice, though smaller, might be the Partagas Serie D No. 4, a robusto that consistently impresses. Kingsley's listed the price of a box at about $283, just more than $11 a stick. Hell, at those prices, buy a round for your new best friends at the bar.
The cigar bar that sits in Kingsley's basement might remind Americans of the time when every U.S. bar and restaurant was carving out space to call a cigar room. Happily, Kingsley's cigar lounge carries little pretense. Its walls are decorated with the covers of old Cigar Aficionados and recent issues rest on end tables next to brightly colored sofas and chairs. The bar has only four seats, but plenty of standing room, which is usually necessary on Wednesdays through Fridays when the downtown after-work cocktail seekers fill the joint.
The bar has a full range of refreshments, and since the local beer is Australian, it's world-class. Try a Victoria Bitter, known as VB, or a Carlton Lager, though if anyone urges you to try Cooper's instead, don't argue. Your thirst quenched, move on to something that goes better with your Cuban cigar. Surprisingly, Australia produces an excellent rum, Bundaberg. Kingsley's pours two types, gold and black. The Bundaberg black is remarkably smooth and has a slight sarsaparilla overtone. Nice stuff.
Maybe the best thing about Kingsley's is the attitude. It's clearly Australian -- "No worries, mate" -- and the staff is friendly and quick-witted. The whole place, in the oldest of industrial sandstone buildings (circa 1833) in the Sydney CBD (Central Business District), gives you a sense of being solid. Just don't walk past it. The front door is in off the street and the sign that advertises it is not all that noticeable.
Kingsley's Steakhouse and Cigar Lounge
29A King Street
Sydney City, Sydney, Australia
(61) 2 9262 4155
Open for Lunch and Dinner
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