IT isn’t every day you get the chance to try zebra, kangaroo and crocodile for lunch so when the opportunity arose I snapped at the chance.
But what started out as a joke is fast becoming a hit with hungry residents looking to try something new.
Despite only going on sale yesterday, more than half of the 80 burgers in stock have already been sold, so I headed down to One77 for my very own I’m a Celebrity-style bushtucker trial to see what all the fuss is about.
As I made myself comfortable there was only one thought running through my head - ‘I’m a reporter get me out of here’ - because the thought of tucking into crocodile and chicken burgers for lunch hardly whetted my appetite.
But how wrong could I be?
I like my food as much as the next man and I’m pleased to report the succulent, juicy burgers were packed with flavour and my recommendation would be the tantalising zebra burger.
The latest additions to the menu has caused such a stir among locals that staff are now having to order more stock.
Labour councillor Pamela Hargreaves, chairman of Hartlepool Families First which manages the bistro, said: “The recent scandal around horse meat inspired us to think about other meats that may appeal to Hartlepudlians.
“Yes, they don’t include any beef, but they don’t include any horse either.
“They are also a healthier option to beef, with crocodile meat having one of the lowest levels of cholesterol than many other meats.”
Coun Hargreaves joked: “So why not hop along and give the kangaroo a try, but be careful of the crocodile as it has a bit of a bite.”
The meat has been sourced a specialist London-based meat supplier, Freedown Food, who featured on Gordon Ramsey’s television programme ‘The F Word’ in 2011.
Manager Paul Thompson, who is also an independent councillor, said: “Although people may think that this is a joke, we are not horse-ing around.
“This is a genuine chance to try something exciting and cooked to perfection.
“These meats are popular treats in South Africa and Australia and are sourced from responsible and sustainable farms.
“Despite being exotic, the burgers are not deer and start from only £3 and are served in a fresh bun with salad.”
Coun Thompson said the zebra and crocodile burgers had been the best sellers so far and he had been “amazed” by the response.
Head chef Lindsay Stevens, 25, added: “The burgers are selling really well - better than we all expected.”
• Crocodile and chicken
This particular burger, which had an unusual flavour, comes with a “bite” and hungry residents have been ‘snapping’ it up at the popular cafe.
Not my favourite, but it was wonderfully cooked.
The experts say crocodile meat has a low level of cholesterol and is exceptionally juicy and tender with a firm texture.
Antelope was a potential winner in the burger contest with its succulent, juicy meat and there is no need to elope to warmer climes with this meaty treat on your doorstep.
The experts say antelope meat is mild-tasting and finely grained and is similar to venison.
Kangaroo packed a punch with its meaty content packed with flavour and if you want to try one you better “hop” to it as these burgers are skipping out the front door.
Kangaroo meat has a high protein and iron content and according to those in the know it is a fine grained meat, which when cooked has a texture likened to liver.
• Wild boar
This meaty feast jostled with the zebra burger for top spot.
Wild boar was most similar in taste to pork and residents certainly won’t be “bored” tucking into this tasty treat. Firm flesh and lean, wild boar meat has a distinctive, tender and refined flavour.
The impala burger had the most unusual and distinctive flavour out of all the meats on offer. Food experts say it is exceptionally tender and delicious, but I found the red coloured meat to be quite gamey in taste. Not one of my favourites, but the fast food – in every sense of the word – seems to be going down well.
There is nothing black and white about zebra meat with this fulsome burger certainly earning its stripes in the taste test. Zebra meat, which is sweeter than beef, was my pick for top spot.