Dome – Darwin Airport

The Darwin Dome café is one of those places that links Darwin to the rest of Australia spiritually and architecturally. Nestled in the Darwin Airport eatery, it is the only one in town. It’s one of the first things you see when you arrive, and one of the last you see when you leave – but vice versa in other locations. It’s a point of familiarity that first time travellers from south would relate to before entering into the tropical clime.

Dome are unique for their décor. The Victorian inspired themes, furniture, colours, and even the raw floorboards that creak and heave as you move across them. Resembling a gentlemen’s club in an Australian colonial vernacular, the only other place to have such an ambiance – but not as accessible – is perhaps Government House.

As with most places in the Darwin Airport eatery, it is expensive. The coffees and teas are priced about one size above other stores, and the meal prices…. well, they’ve certainly capitalised on their monopoly and image. So I was reminded as I saw my Beloved off out of town recently. I wasn’t hungry and simply ordered a skinny flat white coffee and a melting moment biscuit. The Dome is usually packed, with the line more often than not out of the entry area. However on this day the airport was empty and the queue was short so I jumped at the chance to get the order in.

The ordering process was simple enough, however the cashier seemed unfamiliar with the touch screen and asked me to repeat the order several times. Another server brought the biscuit out on a plate almost immediately and went back for the coffee. The coffee was delivered by another server who simply smiled and departed.

Unfortunately this wasn’t a good coffee. Lukewarm and milky. If the macchiato is supposed to be a shot of espresso just stained with milk, then I have discovered quite the opposite. A cup of warm milk just stained with enough coffee to change it from white. I will stop there and simply declare the coffee as quite unpalatable.

The melting moment was just that. Buttery and short crumbed, the biscuit fell apart and disappeared into my hand while biting into it. The icing holding the two halves together was rock hard and had no flex, no give, in it and simply allowed the biscuit to self-destruct while eating. A shame really, as all the right flavours were there but the biscuit resembled no much more than a Arnott’s Monte Carlo on steroids. I would have rather the melting to take place while eating than crumbing while trying to eat.

And so, the verdict. The Dome oozes ambiance and charm. It also has a very appealing menu. On this occasion the taster of this promising café was a letdown, especially when for the same price I could have gone home with a take away coffee from elsewhere and a couple of packets of Family Assorted Creams to put in the pantry.

As there really isn’t anywhere else to go like this at the airport, all can say is ‘maybe next time…’.

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