6 March 2014
Alice Springs is an unexpectedly vibrant town in the middle of the desert! My father and I visited the sunny Red Centre for a few days and wanted to check out some of the popular local food spots. Here’s a collection of our dining experiences :)
Uluru (previously known as Ayers Rock)
RED OCHRE GRILL
We searched TripAdvisor until we found a local restaurant that would serve traditional bush food. Red Ochre Grill offered a contemporary play on game meats and bush flavours.
If you’re visiting Red Ochre Grill, remember to book ahead and dine in the courtyard before 7pm to score a 20% early bird discount. There’s sparkly fairy lights to keep you entertained, but also a couple of flies and mozzies to fight off.
I’m always impressed when game is cooked well because it’s very difficult to stop lean meat from going dry and chewy. The kangaroo was cooked a perfect pink medium rare and served with smooth sweet potato mash. Steamed broccolini gave the dish some colour, while the native mint and mango chutney had a lovely sweetness that paired well with the BBQ sauce flavour. It was a nice touch for the waitress to offer us cracked pepper!
Barramundi fillet ($37)
Unfortunately, the barramundi was not very delicious. The fish was moist and well-cooked, but the skin was unappetising and a little gooey. I much prefer a crispy skin and it was a shame that the fish only tasted fishy. The couscous and native tomato salsa were light and healthy, but lacked any strong flavours. A nice squeeze of lemon was very welcome on a plate that was otherwise quite bland.
Quandong cheesecake ($13)
We shared a cheesecake which had unusually savoury flavours from the bush ingredients of quandong and wattle. The cake itself was very heavy and it really needed more cream and fresh fruit. For quite a small slice, $13 seems quite expensive and overall the cake was pretty average.
Our meal came to roughly $35pp after the 20% discount. Service was friendly and the waitresses brought us free tap water, but it was difficult getting their attention even with quite an empty restaurant. If I visit Alice Springs again, I will probably look elsewhere to taste bush foods because Red Ochre Grill was a little too expensive for quite an average experience.
Likes: kangaroo was flavoursome and perfectly cooked
Dislikes: barramundi was very bland
Value for money: pretty average
Overall: not impressed enough to return, would look for other local spots
57 Todd St
Alice Springs NT
(08) 8952 9614
PAGE 27 CAFE
A stroll through Todd Mall looking at Aboriginal art galleries in Alice Springs left us with quite an appetite. We were drawn to Page 27 by the crowd which seemed to be mostly locals. We ordered from the breakfast menu because it felt too warm for a heavy lunch!
Service was friendly but we didn’t get any tap water because the waitstaff didn’t really wait on the tables. You order at the counter, grab your number, find a table, and wait for your food to arrive. We retreated indoors to escape the flies. Thankfully it wasn’t a long wait in the airconditioning, but even the outside tables looked nicely shaded.
Long macchiato (~$4)
It turns out that coffee words don’t always translate between States and Territories! My dad eventually communicated his order and enjoyed his long mac. A good pick-me-up despite the heat.
Toasted banana bread ($7.90)
The banana bread instantly caught my eye and it was moist, sweet, and a generous portion. I think the bread was ever-so-slightly burnt on the top edges, but I wasn’t too bothered. What distinguished this from other banana bread that I’ve enjoyed (eg. West End Deli in Perth) was the amazing hazelnut butter. The butter was light and fluffy like a cream, but rich with small flecks of hazelnut. Absolutely delicious!
Green eggs and ham ($15.90)
My dad ordered the wonderfully named green eggs and ham! The scrambled eggs with pesto were slippery and moist with the awesome flavour of fresh basil. Ham off the bone is so good and even better fried up. The bread was very lightly toasted so the butter didn’t melt properly, but overall this was a tasty dish and another generous serving. Page 27 is definitely a great place for breakfast or brunch in Alice Springs and the prices are very reasonable!
Likes: generous servings, tasty food, reasonable prices
Value for money: great given the quality and serving sizes
Overall: would return if I visited Alice Springs again
3 Fan Arcade
Alice Springs NT
(08) 8952 0191
It was cheaper to fly back to Perth through Melbourne with Tiger Airways than to fly direct with Qantas (omg why?!). Unfortunately, the neighbourhoods near Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport are pretty devoid of decent restaurants. We walked about 20 minutes from our airport hotel to check out Bombay Cafe which seemed popular with the locals.
This family-run business offers Indian food and, surprisingly, some pizzas and pastas. We ordered a couple of curries to share between us with plain rice ($2.50) and garlic naan bread ($2).
Butter chicken ($11.90)
Butter chicken is such a staple whenever my family orders Indian takeaway. This dish was creamy and was quite sweet from tomatoes. Tasty and full of tender chicken pieces!
Lamb korma ($11.90)
The lamb korma was a little underwhelming because I was hoping for a richer sauce with cashews. There was not any real spiciness in the dish, but it was still yummy. Plus, everything tastes good with garlic naan! Overall, we thought it was worth walking past all the fast food and tacky restaurants to find this little suburban Indian restaurant.
Likes: always a fan of a decent butter chicken
Dislikes: walking 20mins for dinner coz we didn’t have a hire car!
Value for money: decent
Overall: nice little family-run business with good food and fair prices
2 Garden Drive
(03) 9335 3777