Our Buffet Dinner At Ilkari Restaurant In Yulara

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Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
Ilkari restaurant offers international flavours for its reservation-only buffet dinner. Photo credit: Vivienne She

Ilkari Restaurant is the house restaurant of Sails in the Desert. The one you visit for your daily buffet breakfast and as day becomes night, it offers reservation-only gourmet buffet dining. Kent and I saved this experience for our very last night in Yulara. The main reason was very simple – I try to avoid overeating and thus putting on weight during our stay. For our last meal at the Resort, the buffet was an easy option. And if I overindulged, it wouldn’t matter. In fact, we wanted to overindulge; after all, it was our last evening for reminiscences in this desert town.

Fresh oysters. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life. Food photography by Sydney photographer Kent Johnson.
‘Look! Oysters in the desert!’ Said Kent. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

‘Look! Oysters in the desert!’ Said Kent.

Vivienne She, writer and creator of White Caviar Life. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
Enjoying a glass of Australian Riesling and a plate of fresh oysters! Photo credit: Kent Johnson

If this buffet was going to be a celebratory farewell dinner; then for me, fresh oysters really were going to kick off my celebration mood. Much to our surprise, way out here in Central Australia, they were ultra fresh, briny yet sweet, and very meaty too. Definitely among the best ones I’ve had for a long time. Kent and I were eager to find out the origin of these oysters. Coffin Bay, South Australia perhaps? Before we solve the mystery, let me have a sip of my Australian Riesling to go with another plate of oysters!

A rack of beef from the Carving Station. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life. Food photography by Sydney photographer Kent Johnson.
Kent set his eyes on a rack of beef from the Carving Station. Photo credit: Kent Johnson
Sydney photographer Kent Johnson is about to enjoy his cut of decidedly red meat with a glass of Shiraz. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
Kent, about to enjoy his cut of decidedly red meat with a glass of Shiraz. Photo credit: Vivienne She
Roast Rib of Beef from the Roast of the Day options. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
Kent’s Roast Rib of Beef from the Roast of the Day options. Photo credit: Vivienne She

Meanwhile, Kent, still astonished at the idea of seafood that fresh in the desert! He set his eyes more conservatively on a huge rack of beef. As part of your buffet, each dinner can pick one cook-to-order dish. Something from the Carving Station – Roast of the Day; the Grill Station, or From the Wok. Roast Rib of Beef from the Roast of the Day options was Kent’s choice, because he thought it looked ‘epic’. Whereas me? I simply went for Catch of the Day from the Grill Station which happened to be salmon. Still lovely although slightly overcooked. Kent seemed to enjoy his cut of decidedly red meat with a glass of Shiraz.

Catch of the Day - salmon - from the Grill Station. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
I went for Catch of the Day from the Grill Station which happened to be salmon… lovely! Photo credit: Vivienne She
Prawns. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
Prawns are among my must-have choices when it comes to a buffet! Photo credit: Kent Johnson
A selection of cured meats. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
A selection of cured meats. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

Yes our last night, time to go whole hog! Prawns, an array of antipasto, cured meats, salads, and soups. I couldn’t resist the Chinese Masterstock Braised Pork Belly. Yum! Noted for the lovers of Indian flavours, there was Chicken Tikka Masala. Kent filled half a plate with Green Beans, Toasted Almonds and Feta (he loves green beans); while I tried some Crusted Barramundi, Grilled Lemon and Fennel. Somehow I saved some room for dessert, even while consuming a small plate of Mussels with Tomato Sauce too. Well, I did say buffet!

Green Beans, Toasted Almonds and Feta. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
Green beans… Kent loves green beans! Photo credit: Kent Johnson
Chinese Masterstock Braised Pork Belly. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
Chinese Masterstock Braised Pork Belly… Yum! Photo credit: Kent Johnson
Crusted Barramundi, Grilled Lemon and Fennel. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
Crusted Barramundi, Grilled Lemon and Fennel. Photo credit: Kent Johnson

Dessert! Only just after all that, we were given choices of Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Verrine, Black Forest Terrine, Pistachio Brûlée, Vanilla Brûlée, Desert Lime Pie, just to name a few. If these do not sound impressive, perhaps a rich and creamy Willy-Wonka-style Chocolate Fountain will settle your sweet appetite. Funnily enough, Kent and I shared a little bit of almost everything on display except for the Chocolate Fountain; which Kent claimed he was avoiding ‘on principle’… though he didn’t say which one. Though I’m glad that he did remember to take a photograph of it.

Desert Lime Pie. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
These Desert Lime Pies look so inviting! Photo credit: Kent Johnson
Layer Mousse Cakes. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
How could you resist these mouth-watering sweet treats! Photo credit: Kent Johnson
Chocolate Fountain. Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
Fancy a rich and creamy Willy-Wonka-style Chocolate Fountain? Photo credit: Kent Johnson

At $77 per adult for the buffet dinner, I think it is rather reasonable. Something worth mentioning here… As we were considering ordering a bottle of wine for our meal, we asked if it would be possible to take any leftover wine back to our hotel room in Desert Gardens Hotel – where we spent our last four nights in Yulara. Well, it was not permitted. Although there’s just a short walk between the two accommodations; in the public area between them, carrying opened alcohol (even top on) is not allowed. The alcohol laws are very strict in the Northern Territory. We were glad that we asked first.

Ilkari Restaurant at Sails in the Desert, Yulara. Buffet dinner at Ilkari restaurant review by White Caviar Life.
Aah… the hazards of going to a buffet dinner… Photo credit: Kent Johnson

Yes, I overindulged and so did Kent. Aah… the hazards of going to a buffet dinner! In the end, we totally forgot to find out where those fabulous oysters came from! Oh well, at least we won’t forget how delicious they were, and appreciate them being one of the highlights of our last dinner in Yulara.

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Vivienne is a traveller, author; story teller and sometimes a muse. She seeks a balance between travelling in comfort and style with value; perhaps being the daughter of a hotelier helps there. Through White Caviar Life, you will share in her travel experiences, stories and tips that she hopes to help enhance your own travel.

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