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