You've got to try these Australian meat pies
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., June 30, 2006
3110 Guadalupe #150, 380-0032
Aussies plead ignorance when they claim they don't know who made the first Down Under meat pie some 150 years ago. We think it must have been a British sailor skilled in the art of Cornish pasties, meat pies that originated in Cornwall during the 1200s. Originally meant for the upper classes, it became the ideal portable lunch for miners and seamen. Regardless, the meat pie is now an inherent part of Australian culture; they eat 275 million of them a year, and everyone has their favorite vendor.
Jack Fennell, with his wife Emilie, was transferred to Australia while working for Dell. The first meal he had when he got off of the plane was an Aussie meat pie, and before they left, an idea was hatched to present the pie to the old hometown. They couldn't get any bakers there to share the secrets, so, armed with research, they found consultants here to perfect the recipes. They tested the product by giving them away free at events, if the consumer would only rate the quality of their pies. Now they are open, bringing a bit of authentic Aussie tucker to Austin.
Situated in the former Half Price Books location on Guadalupe, Boomerang's is sleek, with brushed-metal accents and boomerang icons everywhere. You place your order at the counter, and it comes out of the heated holding case immediately. The pies in question are oval, about 4-inches long, 3-inches wide, and 2-inches deep, enveloped in golden flaky pastry. Amazingly, they can be eaten out of hand, with little chance of a contents-blowout.
The fillings run the gamut from the Traditional ($4.75, minced beef and onions in seasoned gravy with Worcestershire; rich and delicious, and one of our faves) to the Chicken and Mushroom ($4.50, chunks of juicy chicken, and loaded with mushrooms and onion). There are 11 different variations of chicken and beef, pizza, and vegetarian, all between $4.25 and $4.75 apiece.
The Steak and Mushroom ($4.75) is crammed full with strips of tender steak, mushrooms, and onion in a thyme-kissed sauce. The Mediterranean Veggie ($4.50) is a mélange of sautéed vegetables and tofu with basil and balsamic vinaigrette in a wheat crust. It's the only one that needed a bit more seasoning. The Southwest Adobe Chicken ($4.50) is excellent: filled with a mix of chicken, peppers, corn, black beans, and pico de gallo; spicy; and the individual ingredients remain distinct in taste. The Supreme Pizza ($4.75) has pepperoni and Italian sausage, mushrooms, garlic, peppers, olives, and mozzarella.
For sides, there are kettle chips (thick, nongreasy, homemade potato chips), homemade soups and salads, tortilla chips and queso or salsa. We had a superlative draft Maine Root root beer ($1.25), and they offer a full range of coffee drinks, beer, and wine. You can even get the pies frozen, to-go, for reheating later: $4 each, or four for $15.
All said and done, Boomerang's is a welcome addition to Austin's growing pantheon of international culinary delights. Jack and Emilie got it right. When winter rolls around again, there's one dish we want to see on the menu: the Pie Floater, a specialty of our sister city Adelaide: a luscious meat pie afloat in a pool of pea soup. Yummmmmm.
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