Arnguli Grill Desert Gardens Resort Yulara

Arnguli Grill Desert Gardens Resort Yulara
Arnguli Grill, Desert Gardens Resort, Yulara

Arnguli Grill is the main restaurant at the Desert Gardens Hotel. This is the venue for buffet breakfast as well as a high quality meal in the evenings.

We had originally been booked for Ilkari at Sails In The Desert however one of the local tour guides recommended we switch to Arnguli as he felt it was of a higher quality compared the buffet.

We are glad we took this recommendation.

The ambience of the room is a very simple affair. High ceilings with plenty of glass have you looking outward. The simplicity of the room complements this with the outdoors being the true feature.

Tables are grouped together so we were rather close to the tables next to us. If you did want a more romantic table I don’t imagine it would have been a problem to be seated a little more away.

Our table had a beautiful Aboriginal art runner that also happened to be available for sale in the gift shop next door. That said it was very tasteful and helped break up the starkness of white throughout the room.

The menu was quite varied with good choices. Entrees ranged from $18-$25 and mains started at $33 to more than $50 if you were opting for premium steaks.

As a starter we opted for the Australian taster plate featuring Crocodile, wallaby, emu and kangaroo.

Arnguli Grill Desert Gardens Resort Yulara

The croc was quite chewy while the wallaby was amazing minced with tomato marmalade with hints of hoisin sauce. The Emu was incredibly tender and the kangaroo done perfectly unlike the tough meat we experience at the ATT Outback BBQ.

IMG_9395For mains I went for the chicken roulettes which were amazing. Served with tender beans and carrots and sweet potato purée this was a wonderful meal. The mustard sauce was perfect with the chicken and the stuffing not overpowering with Apple, pork and silver beet.

My dining partners went for the steaks with Jyan having the eye filet which was enjoyed. The meat was very tender and perfectly cooked.

Andrew had the rib fillet Angus on the bone which he also enjoyed.

The meals were of a good size and were well priced given that we were in a resort in the middle of Australia.

The desserts were huge with Jyan having the trio of gelato and Andrew and I opting for the chocolate mystique. This was a great combo of cheesecake topped with chocolate brownie. This was accompanied with figs and caramel ice cream.  This desert was huge and I really do recommend that this could easily be shared between two people.

Overall the food was amazing.

Service was attentive however the staff were difficult to engage at times with empty plates sitting way longer than we would normally expect. Normally this would be fine in a resort however we had an evening tour booked so getting the bill took a while.  Once we stood up and walked towards the cashier the staff were able to jump into action to collect payment.

If you are visiting the Uluru Yalara resort and are looking for a fine dining experience I highly recommend checking out the Arnguli restaurant.

Dr George

AAT Kings Uluru Sunset & BBQ Dinner

When it comes to supplying a “true Aussie experience” I have to say the closest descriptive term for the AAT Kings Uluru Sunset & BBQ Dinner is “Aussie cattle experience”.

Right from the start you are herded, orders barked in a whip like fashion and food supplied in a sloppy haphazard way.

If you are looking for true Australian hospitality this is not the tour for you…

So for the purpose of review I’ll head back to the start…

We were picked up for our tour at the hotel. The bus was large an packed to the brim with pensioners who appeared to be part of a larger package tour. I soon learned this herd was soon to be know as “Nellie’s tour”.

While superficially friendly the tour guides were short sharp and staccato in deliver of factoids but you are essentially left to your own devices. The sacred nature of the land we were visiting was given a cursory glance but very little was shared as to the stories or wonder of our countries indigenous people…

The bus dropped us off for our intimate Uluru sunset experience to a viewing area shared with 6 other bus loads of people.

Our tour included champagne, beer or juice which was satisfactory. There was also a table that included 2 bowls of dips, one salsa, chips, cheese cubes and vegetables sticks to dip with. Essentially a preview of Aussie BBQ should you live in the suburbs and have a Coles or Woolworths nearby.

Tips for the photography is to separate from the crowd and move up the hill a little. This way you will not have numerous selfie stick toting fools incidentally photobombing your shots.

AAT Uluru Sunset & BBQ Experience

Uluru is stunning and it’s the highlight of the afternoon.

Once the sun has partially set (not fully) we were separated and herded to a different bus for the Aussie BBQ experience. This is hosted at the Uluru Cultural Centre about 10min drive from the sunset viewing point.

Normally this is held outdoors however as there was a storm was looming our meal was moved inside in the gift shop / cafe.

It would appear that there was one “leader” who appeared frantic busy seating people in a haphazard way, ignoring people who had been waiting, allowing the pushy and rude to be seated first.

As a result our group was hidden away in the corner that appeared to be well centered in the service blind spot. We were the last to be offered the opportunity to graze at the feed trough.

The Aussie BBQ experience is, well, a BBQ served with salad, “dessert” followed by tea and coffee.

AAT Uluru Sunset & BBQ Experience

The mains consisted of one steak cooked as you like it… once decided you were locked in and not allowed to check out the other food till your steak was ceremoniously served from a metal bain marie dish as the staff member wandered around questioning “medium rare?”

Nellies group appeared to be the darlings of the evening as they were served very quickly, they were finished their mains before we had to complain to be able to access the other food offerings as our steaks were not yet being cooked.

AAT Uluru Sunset & BBQ ExperienceOther than steak they have a buffet with lamb sausages (these were good), prawns (I’m told were heavy on the garlic but good), chicken sticks that were clearly steamed and small portions of overcooked kangaroo.

AAT Uluru Sunset & BBQ ExperienceThe salad was terrible with a selection of 4 choice all looking sad and lifeless by the time we were “allowed” to access them. I say allowed as those who dared to try to get food before their steak was delivered were sent away and told to sit back down.

For those who love to drink there was plenty of bottled wine, beer and drunk people to enjoy these with.

Non drinkers could have tap water or canned soft drink.

AAT Uluru Sunset & BBQ ExperienceDessert consisted half a Lamington with fruit sauce and a line of whipped cream. Half a lamington. Half…

AAT Uluru Sunset & BBQ ExperienceTea and coffee was a serve yourself affair with Nescafé blend 43, Lipton’s tea or milo.

Once the cattle were fed all were herded outside to have a brief look at the stars… This  had the chance to be a magical moment however it was cheapened by drunks falling over, thick accents talking over the tour guides shrill voice and the guides shrill voice.

Stars gazed upon the cattle was herded back onto the busses where kitch Australian music was played. This included convict favorites to help us to all remember the sacred Aboriginal land we were fortunate enough to visit.

Would I visit Uluru at sunset again? Absolutely. It’s stunning and truly a wonder of the world. Would I do it with AAT Kings? Ahh no.

Dr George

Tim Ho Wan Heading To Melbourne

Tim-Ho-WanAs As reported in Gourmet Traveller:

Tim Ho Wan, the international yum cha franchise, which landed its first Australian venue in Sydney in 2015, will open in Melbourne, at the eastern edge of Chinatown, on March 18.

It won’t take bookings, so as with its rival, dumpling behemoth Din Tai Fung, at the nearby Emporium, punters can expect lengthy queues.

Founding chef Mak Kwai Pui will be in town for the launch, but the day-to-day responsibility for the signature sugar-dusted barbecue pork buns, vermicelli rice paper rolls, pan-fried turnip cakes and siu mai will be in the hands of head chef Yong Qiang Wei, who previously headed the kitchen at Crown Cantonese restaurant, Lucky Chan.

Billed as the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant – the tiny hole-in-the-wall Hong Kong original won the étoile in 2010, only a year after opening – it has now grown to encompass more than 20 outlets across Asia and Australia.

You can check out Tim Ho Wan here: http://timhowan.com.au

Chops Grill – Explorer Of The Seas

Chops-Grill
Chops Grille: Royal Caribbean Explorer Of The Seas

Recently I have had the absolute pleasure of experiencing my first cruise… Now normally this is something I have shunned. Fear of dealing with drunk guys, loud families and ball room dancing pensioners had kept me away. I’ve heard cruising often described as “the elite of white trash on the seas”…

The above said, I spoke with friends recently who had their world turned around with a successful and fun cruise. This got me into research mode…

So yes, there are some liners that are trashier than others… I was advised that Royal Caribbean was one of the more classy lines. With a little research I was booked into a 3 day sampler cruise from Sydney on Explorer Of The Seas. I was able to get a great deal on an Owners Suite: my private oasis from the great unwashed who seemed to be giving their “all you can consume” drink cards a less than subtle nudge.

One of the advantages of booking a suite on Explorer Of The Seas is Chops Grill. For breakfast and lunch this is your private dining room. It’s amazingly sound proofed from the “Windjammer Cafe” (Explorer Of The Sea’s massive buffet) that it’s directly next to.

Upon entering the restaurant it is serene, moderately quiet, and free of the crazy hub-bub of drunk guys in bad wigs (seriously!!) bumping their way to unlimited carved roast and mashed potatoes next door.

Breakfast is a choice of a modest buffet or off the menu.

IMG_8181

My partner and I opted for the Eggs Benedict and Salmon Omelet.

For me the eggs Benedict were ok but nothing to get excited about. The hollandaise wasn’t the best however the eggs were cooked to perfection with a slightly runny yolk. The spinach was good however the hash browns were undercooked. I added some turkey sausages that were pretty dry.

My partner reported the omelette was adequate however a bit dry. I agreed as well as the flavor being quite salty.

That said the fruit, tea and ambiance was great.

For lunch the options are to order from the menu or to slip into the next door Windjammer buffet grab a feed and come back to enjoy it in the much quieter space of the restaurant. We opted for the latter with no dramas.

Come dinner time you can sit down to an exclusive, electronic candle lit dinner with the speciality of steak.

As a starter we decided to share the scallops as a entree.

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The scallops where huge! Pan fried they were still delightfully moist and easy to cut. The combination of bacon, onion and apple was tasty and complemented the scallops well.

For mains we opted for the petite filet mignon and the short rib of beef.

The steak came out medium as had been requested. It was quite tender and was enjoyable.

The beef short rib I feel was a little overcooked. Much of the fat that makes short rib so tasty had been rendered away leaving the meat a little dry and stringy. The sauce did however help hold in moisture and it complemented the meat well.

Sides included creamed corn, garlic mash and sautéed mushrooms. I liked the corn. The mash could have had a little more butter. The mushrooms were just a tad undercooked.

Overall impression was that this restaurant is a great space. It’s cozy, intimate and a perfect complement to the luxury side of Explorer Of The Seas.

The food was good, certainly of a higher standard than the main restaurant and it’s buffet neighbor. I imagine that this is expected given there is an additional cover charge to eat here at dinner and lunch.

Perhaps it was the fact this was my first dinner on a cruise ship I had pitched my hopes a little too high? Overall a good experience however I feel the kitchen was not quite to the standard I came to expect from other reviews.

I’d say I’ll be back, and with the right cruise I would however let’s just say I know some kick ass places for steak here in Melbourne.

Keep an eye out for my other reviews of the food on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer Of The Seas.

Giovanni’s Table: Family Style Italian
The Main Dining Room
Owners Suite Room Service

 

Gami Korean Chicken Brunswick St

Gami Chicken Spare Ribs
Gami Korean Fried Chicken Brunswick St Fitzroy
Gami Korean Fried Chicken Brunswick St Fitzroy

So tonight I was doing a spot of book shopping on Brunswick St Fitzroy (Vale Polyester Books) when as I wandered down the street I was offered a small gift box of the most delicious friend chicken from Gami…

Normally I don’t accept give aways but the waitress had a nice smile and I was starting to think about dinner…  Dham! Let it be said that free gift fried chicken is not to be sniffed at! It was wonderful. Crisp, not overly salty and the flesh was so so tender!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!

Yes it did take me a block do make the decision but sure as god made little apples I was turning around with chicken on my mind…

Henceforth Gami chicken will be known as the crack cocaine of the chicken world. I can’t help but wonder if this is what Los Pollos Hermanos from Breaking Bad tasted like.

Check out the menu:

Gami Menu
Gami Menu

Now one thing to note… The menu is great but unless you are planning on designing your own heart attack these are platters best shared… There is no freaking way I could eat a whole chicken or even a half one.

That in mind I opted for the smallest meal on the menu, the chicken spare ribs.

Even this serve was pretty big and I had spare chicken to take home with me.

The coating is amazing. This version was the standard coat however I’m keen to try the spicy as well as other options of soy/garlic and sweet chilly. The chicken is remarkably tender and moist which is always going to be a winner in my books.

I’ve never had picked radish with chicken. It’s a interesting combination that quickly becomes morish.. Bit of chicken, cube of radish, repeat. Added to this a nice side of coleslaw and I had a very enjoyable meal.

Seriously this place is rocking it…

Hint for those who hate chicken bones you can get your fix in boneless form! Love it.

Love this place.

Dr George

Gami Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Some Velvet Morning Clifton Hill

Some Velvet Morning Clifton Hill
Some Velvet Morning Clifton Hill
Some Velvet Morning Clifton Hill

So today I wanted to try out some thing different from my local haunt Cafe Quince when Some Velvet Morning popped up on my Zomato radar.

Some Velvet Morning is an interesting “little piece of Brunswick” in Clifton Hill…  Clifton Hill is a fairly white collar suburb and (for sake of ease I’m just going to call this place SVM) SVM more of an artistic style venu. Live music in the evenings, alcohol service available, not all the cushions comfortable… Kinda get my drift?

That said the breakfast burrito on the menu totally caught my eye so I went in with an open mind, wallet and mouth.

So first up was the coffee…

Coffee @ Some Velvet Morning Clifton Hill
Coffee @ Some Velvet Morning Clifton Hill

The coffee was good however in Melbourne, you can’t really afford to have shit coffee…

I placed the order for my burrito…

With a bit of time up my sleeve I decided to take a few pics… When I’ve visiting a place I like to ask permission before I start snapping. It’s polite and I find anonymous snappers obnoxious.

I was interested that when I asked I got the response “well only if you give a good review”… Umm ok, that’s really up to you isn’t it? I don’t think I am the only part of the equation.

Anyways I managed to while away a bit of time taking some pics, drinking my coffee, sorting my mail, resorting my mail….  Waiting. Hmmm I wonder where my meal is.

So rapid service (even when they seem to be keen on good reviews) isn’t on the forefront of their “key cultures”.

One of the reasons is probably that the kitchen is taking up a small corner of the bar area. It’s not big at all.

That said I didn’t see any other food being prepared… 40 min later the waitress asked if I wanted another coffee when I explained no I really just wanted my meal… 5 min later I could smell mexican flavours, 10 min later the food arrived.

The Breakfast Burrito Some Velvet Morning
The Breakfast Burrito Some Velvet Morning

Waiting aside the burrito was actually really good. The salad was fresh, the pulled pork had a nice combo of sauce and beans… The only shot of disappointment I had was that the dollop of white on top was an egg rather than sour cream… Sour cream would have totally made this dish!

So yea… Given the limitations of the kitchen the meal was great.

Sadly the service is seriously slow (even when then know you are doing a review). Given there are multiple places to have breakfast within 100m of SMV you might want to consider this.

Dr George

Some Velvet Morning Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafe Quince Clifton Hill

Quince Cafe Clifton Hill
Cafe Quince Clifton HIll
Cafe Quince Clifton Hill

Quince is my local cafe, literally around the corner from where I live…

I love the fact that from my front door I have a cafe, a pub (The Royal Hotel) and a great coffee stand all within a 100m radius… To be able to get up, throw on some clothes and grab breakfast is one of life’s true pleasures.

Quince recently changed hands with the new owners I was kind of expecting some new life however things don’t seem to have changed too much… Initially the coffee went to the dogs however it looks like they have gotten back into the swing… This is Melbourne. Coffee is important!

Quince Menu Clifton Hill
Quince Menu Clifton Hill

For me what I like about Quince is that the food is reliable. The menu hasn’t changed and I have set items I love. Take for example the breakfast stack:

The Breakfast Stack | Cafe Quince
The Breakfast Stack | Cafe Quince

This is a big ass breakfast, basically it’s salmon eggs benedict with added avocado and cottage cheese. For those on high protein diets this is a great choice.

I’ve found the quality of the food to be consistent and I am very thankful with the change of owner the kitchen staff appear to have remained.

Today to change things up a little I decided to give the specials board a bit of a test drive with the potato patty eggs benedict.

Potato, feta and basil is always a good combination so I was keen to give this baby a whirl.

On arrival the meal looked great. The bacon and patty was crisp the egg done nicely and a decent dollop of hollandaise. On testing however it became quickly apparent that the spinach was placed on wet so the centre of the patty was essentially soggy.

The taste was good but the soggyness really was a let down. The general flavours of the patty were present however I’d have turned up the feta to an 7… today it was only sitting at a 3.

Overall Quince is a nice local cafe. Important things to note is that the service is slow. It’s been that way for a long time and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

If you want to be sure you get your coffee *before* your food either order the coffee the minute you sit down or tell the staff that is what you want. I know it sounds picky but I hate the food arriving before the coffee. If the barista isn’t able to keep up with the orders get out from behind the machine.

Things to highlight:

  • Super kid friendly. Clifton Hill is a family suburb. Expect kids and families to be eating.
  • The cakes are great. Be sure to check out what is on display next to the cash register.
  • If you want a decadent treat be sure to grab the home made crumpets with the lemon curd. *A-May-Zing*

So yes this is my local cafe…It’s good for me. Will it encourage people to cross Hoddle St to try it out. Perhaps but let’s face it there are some great places on Queens Parade.

To the Quince team, if you happen to read this please don’t think I’m running you down. I love the place and the food. I just wish the service was consistent and efficient.

Dr George

Café Quince Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato