Darwin's dining out culture is different to the east coast of Australia. It has to be. I always found it amusing when out-of-towners would complain about the lack of whatever in this tropical city when dining out. Suburban and inner city white tablecloth dining simply has no place in Darwin.
Fine dining in Darwin has to factor in immense tropical heat and hungry people. Don your best looking fancy open-toed tropical shoes, put on your sparkly top and your coolest pants or skirts. I'll tell you about a couple of cool and climate friendly places (where air-conditioning is not required) where you can hang out and chillax. Where unhurried service and water is provided without fuss. Where friendly, open but not in your face service is given. Sparrow quantities of food have no place here, as full meals are required to combat the heat, humidity, and change of seasons. Without a full belly in the heat, you simply cannot function as a 'normal' human being!
This is a Darwin institution. It has been open for over 20 years by a man who originally came from Brisbane. It has also won many Gold Plate awards in Darwin. Not only does it have stunning views of Darwin Harbour, but the food is an eclectic mix of tropical ingredients with either a European or Asian fusion. They also use native Australian ingredients. For this alone, they should be commended. The staff are open, friendly and attentive. I was a repeat visitor. The menu changes regularly and it's a lovely place to sit for lunch or dinner.
However, bookings are recommended. There is a good amount of parking outside. However, if you are a tourist, you need to get a taxi or take the Number 4 Bus to Fannie Bay then taxi it along East Point Road. It's not within walking distance of anywhere.
Yes, dressing up tropical style is required. Double yes, I'd recommend sitting outside if you can handle it, as it's simply the best view in Darwin. Take your camera too and make sure you have your drinks ready as sunset hits the delightful Darwin Harbour.
Pee Wees at the Point is also well-known for creating great functions. Countless tropical weddings and functions take place here as it has a glorious garden where you can have a truly tropical wedding. If I was getting married in Darwin it would definitely be my first choice to get married. But I digress. If a function area is required for your workplace, family do or get-together, I'd recommend it, especially in the 'Dry' season.
Compared to Pee Wees at the Point, The Pearl is the new kid on the block. It has only been around for about 2 years and is run by a couple of Sydneysiders, and you can tell because it doesn't look like a Darwin restaurant at all. I always feel like I'm in a bar in Sydney when I'm sitting there.
However, the service is always good, whether you go for Brunch/Lunch or Dinner. They also have special degustation nights and change of seasonal dinners for those that follow and subscribe to their website and Facebook page. I unfortunately missed the opportunity to go to their Degustation dinners but I have it on good authority by some Darwin foodies that they are excellent evenings.
It is fitting too that it is called The Pearl as it heralds the long history of Pearl Fishing that began in Darwin and the NT. It is also a short walk up the mall to the jewellery shop started by the famous Darwin family called Paspaley. If you're into fine dining and fine jewellery then The Pearl and Paspaley are a match made in heaven. Happy 'Fine Dining' Darwin style.
Please leave a comment below with your most memorable fine dining experience in Darwin.