Dining with Skippy: serving up local fauna at the Prairie Hotel
There’s one particular story I really get a kick out of telling particularly international guests. It’s about the Prairie Hotel. The reaction from foreigners is almost unilaterally one of shock, followed by mild outrage that eventually morphs into intrigue. The Prairie is a pub in South Australia that’s infamous for serving up native Australian wildlife, and making it taste and look like it came straight from a Michelin starred restaurant on the east coast.
The Prairie Hotel, Parachilna
The Prairie Hotel was first licenced in 1876 and ever since has been serving up hospitality to those visiting the Flinders Ranges. It’s been through quite a few hands over those years, but since 1991 Ross and Jane Fargher have held the title of publican. 26 years since moving in, their passion for the hotel and the nearby Flinders Ranges is just as strong, and this shows in the quality of the hotel and it’s fare.
The first interaction most travellers have with the Prairie is the sign on the Outback Highway. Three big caution signs for animals on the road, with an ominous ‘On your plate’ perched underneath. It’s this sign that has brought the hotel a reputation for serving feral road kill, which is a more or less accurate way to describe parts of their menu.
However, our tours groups come in directly from Blinman in the ranges, so we bypass this sign. As a result, Ross gets to take great pleasure in explaining to our guests “We’ll get back there [to the hotel], and have a bit of a feed on what we’ve just seen today.” There’s a touch of confusion, and so the qualifying “some of the kangaroo, emu, goat, camel, and the quandong (wild peach)” normally comes next. A mix of laughter from the Australians on the tour and shock from the overseas visitors ensues. I will admit the laughter from the Australians is sometimes directed toward the reaction of the their newfound international friends.
Back at the hotel, evening entree is a feral antipasto platter, featuring smoked kangaroo, emu liver pate, camel mettwurst and soft goats’ cheese. Each item comes clearly marked with a yellow diamond sign (which some take as a warning), so you know you’re eating pesky emu that refused to stay still for a photo earlier in the day. He stayed still eventually.
Following on with mains, guests can take the full native dining experience with the FMG – Feral Mixed Grill, featuring kangaroo fillet, emu fillet mignon and camel sausage. For those less adventurous, the Prairie Hotel is in cattle country, and the slow braised beef cheeks with creamy mash and spinach is my personal favourite. A vermicelli noodle salad with dry roasted cashews is also offer, a close second place in my books.
Desert is a quandong crumble pie with cream and roast almost gelato. Quandong is a native fruit, with a taste in the realm of peach, apricot or rhubarb. This is provided of course you saved room for desert, and if you didn’t… well I’m happy to take one for the team and finish your quandong crumble pie too.
Written by Nick
Nick is one of our touring pilots on our Taste of the Outback trip.
Want to visit the Prairie Hotel? It’s a destination on several of our tours, including Taste of the Outback (4 Day). We stay overnight in the historic hotel – it’s a fantastic place to cap-off a great couple of days in the Australian Outback. See the tour page for more information or call us on 1300 206 130.