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

Toru Ponsonby Auckland

Sadly today was my last day in Auckland however it was great to be able to join some great friends for brunch in one of the more posh suburbs of town, the upwardly mobile Ponsonby.

Toru is a cool cafe with a wonderfully open feel. It’s in the middle of an arcade so you are surrounded by shops however it doesn’t have that awful Westfield feel.

Toru Cafe Breakfast / Brunch Menu
Toru Cafe Breakfast / Brunch Menu

The menu is an interesting mix of breakfast standards and some interesting twists such as a spanner crab omelette, wagyu mince on toast (is that what the posh kids at Ponsonby state school have in their jaffles?) and even quinoa bircher should a hipster happen to park his fixie out the front.

BTW is there such a thing as a female hipster?

I went for two of my favorite foods in the world brought together in a harmony that can only be described as breakfast foody heaven. Pork belly and eggs Benedict.

Pork Belly Eggs Benedict Toru Cafe Ponsonby
Pork Belly Eggs Benedict Toru Cafe Ponsonby

Dam it was good. Pork was sweet hosting a nice layer of fat accompanied by nice soft poached eggs and a smooth hollandaise. I loved it.

Pan Fried Livers Brioche Toru Ponsonby
Pan Fried Livers Brioche Toru Ponsonby

Michael opted for liver on brioche. Sure it’s not to my taste but hey I’ve probably had things in my mouth other people might find disgusting 😉

Mikey opted for the pancakes with bacon and he was a happy camper indeed.

Ricotta Pancakes With Bacon Toru Cafe Ponsonby
Ricotta Pancakes With Bacon Toru Cafe Ponsonby

Coffee here was great and despite being busy the staff were perfectly happy and took it in their stride (you hear that Quay Cafe?).

So yes I give Toru double snaps and will definitely be coming back. Hell after such a great weekend in Auckland I am more than happy to return sooner rather than later.

You can check out the menu and more here: http://toru.co.nz/

Sadly from here it’s off to the airport and then home.

Looking forward to sharing reviews of the Qantas Club @ Auckland International as well as Qantas Business between Auckland and Melbourne.

Dr George

Toru Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Qantas Business Class Auckland – Melbourne

Qantas Business Class Dinner Auckland - Melbourne

After my wonderful Emirates experience I felt it was something a little different to be able to offer reviews of some of the best restaurants in the sky. Today’s flight in Qantas Business is adding to this tradition.

As mentioned in my review of the Auckland Qantas Business Class lounge the food there was very good. Certainly a long way ahead of the offerings in the Sydney and Melbourne Qantas clubs.

I didn’t want to fill up too much as I wanted to be able to enjoy the experience of the meals offered in flight.

Today’s flight was on a 737-800 which means they really don’t have the storage or galley options available on the A380. That said the food was tasty, not sure Neil Perry would be happy if the main was served the same way in his restaurant however given the nature of the kitchen it’s a nice outcome for a meal served in the sky in a large aluminum tube.

IMG_6786
Salmon with Olive Tapanade Qantas Business Dinner Auckland – Melbourne

Offerings were a potato and leek soup as a starter. I decided to give this a miss and well straight for the Salmon with olive tapenade, grilled veg, potatoes and spinach.

The salmon was a touch dry on top however was pretty moist in the middle and bottom. The olives added a nice salty flavor that went well with the salmon. The roasted artichoke and capsicum were great and really tasty. The spinach was nice but as I am sure you know there are only so many ways to sexify spinach. The potatoes were well cooked however I am always going to prefer the skins to be nice and crisp.

Qantas Business Class Dessert
Qantas Business Class Dessert

Dessert was a choice of Kapiti Hokey Pokey ice cream with almond biscotti or a cheese selection. Giving my sweetest smile I asked if I could try both and the stewardess explained that she’d do her best but needed to see what was available after the other passengers had ordered. This in mind I went for the cheese as a starter and hoped for the best.

Qantas Cheese Platter
Qantas Cheese Platter

The cheese was great with an aged cheddar and blue. The cheddar wasn’t too bitey while the blue wasn’t too nosey… The complemented each other well. Added in was quince paste, black grapes and a date. Nice offering

A little later the cabin attendant, my wonderful new best mate, was able to offer the ice cream as well. I am always a fan of ice cream so this didn’t disappoint. The cookies were nice and crunchy and I was able to relive my childhood memories of ice cream sandwiches 🙂 Happy memories.

IMG_6794Tea and coffee was a standard fare and perfectly fine. Add in a Whittaker’s chocolate and it’s a great reminder of a nice break in New Zealand.

Given the limitations of the kitchen on a 737 I am impressed with the meal and wold recommend this restaurant in the sky again should you have the opportunity.

Dr George

Qantas Club Business Lounge Auckland

Qantas Club Business Class Lounge Auckland

I have been a member of The Qantas Club for more than 21 years now so I have seen a number of changes in my time. I’ve seen it amazing, I’ve seen it meh and I have seen it kinda middle of the road where I currently believe it sits. Nothing too exciting, think vaguely posh snack bar…

Perhaps I am a little too focused on the food offerings but I don’t drink. Unlike half of Sydney’s white collar execs or WA FIFO workers I don’t see the Qantas club as a chance to get munted on free Crown larger.

Today I was pleasantly surprised at the offerings in the Auckland lounge.

This lounge is of a decent size with plenty of comfortable seating… Business / Qantas club to the right, Platinum or First get to discover the amazing world behind a frosted glass door to the left. I was sent to the right. Plans are afoot to be a left hand turner again soon.

In the food front there was a great selection on offer.

Shepherd's Pie Qantas Club Auckland
Shepherd’s Pie Qantas Club Auckland

Hot dish was shepherd’s pie with sauce. Good old fashioned comfort food that is hard to go wrong with. The mince was tasty, the potato creamy with a nice cheese crust.

Also available was a cold vegetable salad, vege sticks and dips served in jars (please Qantas do you really need to go hipster?), a variety of cheeses and wrap sandwiches.

Qantas Club Business Class Lounge Auckland
Qantas Club Business Class Lounge Auckland

On the other side of the island bench were a great selection of mini christmas themed cakes, slices, fruit and yoghurts. There was also a cabinet of ice cream that would make a kick ass dessert served with the caramel slices that were there.

Sweets at the Qantas Business Class Lounge Auckland
Sweets at the Qantas Business Class Lounge Auckland

As with all the international Qantas clubs there were free pour spirits, beer, wine and soft drink. Coffee was from a machine… I’m a bit scared after the  Melbourne Emirates coffee episode so stuck with tea that was perfectly fine.

Overall I really rate this is a good quality Qantas club. Sadly the domestic variety really doesn’t meet this same standard. Sure making your own toasted sandwich was cool the first few times however now it’s a little old hat. I just get the feeling they are kind of downgrading the experience to discourage people from spending too much time in the lounge. Given it’s state on weekends it’s unlikely that I am highly motivated to do that.

I am however very motivated to continue on my journey of status credit collection so god willing I reach platinum status and get to experience the wonderfully calm business lounges on a more regular basis…  So for that it’s more flights!

Click here to check out my reviews of my two most recent inflight dining experiences on the Emirates A380 as well as Qantas Business between Auckland and Melbourne.

Dr George

Quay Street Cafe Auckland

Quay Street Cafe Auckland
Meatloaf Sandwich @ Quay Street Cafe Auckland
Meatloaf Sandwich @ Quay Street Cafe Auckland

Quite often when I am looking for a great place for brunch I will check out menus to see if there are particular meals that get me salivating… Pictured above is the meatloaf sandwich from Quay Street Cafe in Auckland… It had me salivating.

I honestly feel for my partner. You see he is of French origin and so kind in forgiving my passion for American style food. He loves wonderful French cuisine, as do I, however when it comes to brunch I love the exact opposite.

Needless to say I am pretty sure that had Jyan been travelling with me he would have had a different choice.

For today though, how often do you get to see meatloaf on a restaurant menu?

You can be reassured that this meal lived up to it’s full potential. The poached egg was great with a nice runny yolk. Hollandaise sweet and the meatloaf juicy.

I would have gone for a different style bread, but hey when in Auckland…

Coffee was good at the Quay Street Cafe however they did do one of the things that really pisses me off as a passionate cafe goer… Coffee arriving late, after the meal has arrived. Dude I want to have a coffee to start my breakfast.

I was genuinely surprised when my meal landed early as when I arrived the barista was welcoming all and sundry who dared to enter his establishment of business with a cheery “we are absolutely flat out. There is going to be at least a 45 minute wait”…

This was with the restaurant half empty. What, did they have The All Blacks and their supporters hidden out the back  where I wasn’t able to see?

Sadly the barista’s enthusiasm was infectious with all staff in somewhat of a flap when really everything seemed to be quite smooth. Can’t help wonder why they have so many tables and chairs if having half of them filled seems to initiate a chain of panicked epilepsy.

Each to their own I suppose. I came, I ordered, I ate. All in less than 45 minutes.

So guys the food here is good. The coffee here is good. The ambience is good. Today I think I seemed to catch the staff in a bit of a fluster. No idea why but really I don’t think it was really as crazy the staff seemed to think.

Relax, have a coffee. 🙂 Try the meatloaf, it’s great!

You can check out the menu and more here: http://www.quaystreetcafe.co.nz/

Dr George
Quay Street Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Shaky Isles Auckland

Shaky Isles Coffee Auckland
The Shaky Isles Coffee Auckland CBD
The Shaky Isles Coffee Auckland CBD

Feeling a bit low in caffeine while shopping in Auckland’s CBD thought I’d try out The Shaky Isles coffee.

Glad to say I enjoyed a nice coffee. Not quite as smooth as Sub Rosa however still a nice cup.

I was interested to see they have some pretty good offerings with single origin, vacuum coffee as well as the popular cold brew and pour over.

The cakes looked great and there was plenty of savory as well.

Great stop for lunch or an afternoon break from shopping.

You can check out the menu and other location listings here: http://www.shakyisles.co.nz/

Travellers note there is now an outlet at Auckland International Airport just after biosecurity. Good to know given how dodgy the coffee can be in some airline lounges! (Cough, Emirates Lounge Melbourne) 😉

Recommended!!

Dr George
Shaky Isles Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Viaduct Grill Auckland

After a great chat and catch up at The Station, my mate Alan and I headed to The Viaduct, a recently renovated section of Auckland right on the harbour. There are heaps of restaurants in the area with our ultimate choice landing at The Viaduct Grill

For me it was the ribs on the menu that grabbed my attention. Pork belly for Alan.

Ribs @ The Viaduct Grill Auckland
Ribs @ The Viaduct Grill Auckland

What can I say I am a sucker for ribs… These pork ribs were done to perfection. The meat was wonderfully soft and virtually fell off the bone. The sauce was sweet with just a touch of tang.

The chips were pretty average, they were a little cold and just starting to lose their crispness. The salad was nice however the serving was tiny.

In a perfect world, less chips, or even better a nice mash and more salad.

Pork Belly @ The Viaduct Grill Auckland
Pork Belly @ The Viaduct Grill Auckland

The pork belly was well done. The skin was very crisp and the fat well infused through the meat. The pork had a nice sweet flavour and I am definitely going to be looking for this one on my next visit.

The potatoes were great and there was just a little crunch in the cabbage and beans.

From a food perspective this place is great.

Service, well that’s another story… If they spent as much time selecting floor staff as they did kitchen staff I imagine this place would be unstoppable. That said given it’s location and great view of the harbour it’s not like they are going to be hard pressed for customers.

I likey!

Dr George

The Viaduct Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato