Darwin Blog

Mykonos Restaurant and Bar
Saturday, 8 March, 2008, 2:45 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali, Dining


On our last trip we went for a wander up Jalan Laksmana, as we were told that there is many goof quality homewares shops and boutique shopping.

Yes, there were some boutique shops that were very nice, but not exactly what I was looking for.  I was trying to get some new and refreshing ideas for my business and to take home with me.

Of course lunch time rolled around and we were starting to feel a little peckish.  We had also heard about the many great restaurants in this strip and many are highly recommended in the Lonely Planet guide.  Well, many of these places are not open for lunch – damn, damn, damn.

We kept walking up the street trying to find somewhere to eat and have a cold drink when we came across Mykonos Restaurant and Bar.  The menu was enticing, we grabbed a table under a fan and ordered a cold drink while we contemplated the menu.

In fact, there was quite a bit to choose from on the menu.  My husband had the grilled snapper fillet which was excellent and I had a beef yiros, which was far superior to anything I have had at home here in Darwin.  The taste and tenderness of the meat was superb.  I was extremely keen to have the freshly made honey puffs, but the meal was more than satisfying, so guess what we will have to go back.

What fascinated us, was the kitchen staff were all Indonesian – Asian people seem to be able to turn their hand to any type of cooking – they are so clever.  The food tasted authentic and we did eat everything on the plate.

Our bill came to IDR Rp 116 600 (AUS $14).

When we came back to Darwin we were joking with a couple of our friends, who incidentally are Greek, saying that of all places we ended up in was a Greek restaurant for lunch.  Whilst they hadn’t been to this restaurant, they had heard about it amongst their crowd and it has a good reputation.  Oh, the drinks are icy cold here!


Shopping always makes me hungry!
Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali, Dining


Before going into Carrefour, we had been shopping in another part of Bali, so I had worked up somewhat of an appetite.

On the third level is a small food court and at the base of the escalators is Trattoria Pizza.

I make my own pizzas now and by choice we do not eat bought commercial pizza.  In saying that, the pizza from Trattoria, is the best I have ever eaten.  There is a number of varieties including vegetarian options.

I can’t remember what it cost, I think something like R13 000, say AU$1.50.  It is served on a cute little plate that allows you to walk and eat at the same time – I don’t like to waste a minute of shopping time and I could devour it while travelling the escalators!

If visiting Carrefour, grab a slice of pizza on the way.

blend & grind
Thursday, 22 November, 2007, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin, Dining


Today I was craving an apple turnover and one with a lot of cream.  I think it was brought on by working on an intense document that was going to have me feel like Dilbert by the end of the day.

I could have gone to Ben’s around the corner, but it was hot and required a short walk in the sun – not today.  But across the road from where I work and a shot walk through a dingy arcade, I come to blend & grind.  In fact, these guys are in the shop front that Ben’s Bakehouse used to occupy.

As I said, I was craving an apple turnover, there was none.  So I thought I would go for my old favourite, a vanilla slice – there was none.  A bit like “the computer says no“!  I wasn’t really keen on anything else until I sighted the creamy, delicious looking matchstick.

$3 and a quick walk back to the office and I devoured the matchstick.  Needed a spoon to eat the cream that oozed out onto the packet.  It was truly delicious and one of the best matchsticks I have had in a very long time and it cured my craving.

What I am worried about, is making my way back tomorrow for another!  If you are in the Anthony Plaza, try one.  They also have pies and sausage rolls, as well as, fresh juices.  Reasonable prices.

Mardi Gras Night in Sydney
Monday, 6 August, 2007, 8:25 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Sydney, Dining


Since we were in Sydney on Mardi Gras night we acknowledged that this may be the only opportunity we would get to see the parade and experience everything Mardi Gras.  We tried desperately to get reserved seating on the Glamstand and missed out.  There was an exclusive cocktail party in the vicinity of the Glamstand, but for the several hundred dollars you were paying, no one was willing to let you know how exclusive, exclusive was and what you exactly got.

Therefore, we bit the bullet and booked into Marque Restuarant for dinner.  When I booked our table, quite sometime in advance, I was told by Emma that we would have a choice of a degustation menu or al a carte.  It was also fine to make our mind up on the evening.  We confirmed our booking and also factored in extra travel time due to the different road closures etc due to Mardi Gras.

Upon our arrival, we were seated and advised that a degustation menu would be served.  As we had a degustation meal at Tetsuya’s the night before, we were not sure if we could handle another one.  After the meal, let me assure you that we had no regrets.

We had a funny little incident after advising of my allergies to fish and peanuts, that a course of fish was served to me, of which I proclaimed in good nature to the waiter that he was trying to kill me.

The menu was sensational and included the following:

Chaud-froid free range egg

Almond Jelly with Blue Swimmer Crab, Almond Gazpacho, Corn Custard and Herring Roe

Cured Ocean Trout with Manning River Rock Oyster, Melon Gherkin and Avocado

Joselito Iberian Jamon with Belgian Endive and Parmesean Custard

Boudin Noir with ‘Risotto’ of South Australian Calamari and Lobster Broth

Roast Muscovy Duck with Jerusalem Artichoke and New Seasons ‘Slippery Jacks’

Mandagery Creek Venison with Baby Beetroot and Chocolate Feuilletage

La Tur (Italian Cow, Goat and Sheep Milk Cheese) with Marzipan Cake and Vanilla Celery

Sauternes Custard with Caramel

‘Amedei’ Chocolate Terrine with Nougatine and Tomato Raspberries

Petits Fours; Salted Caramel Chocolates and Apple Fruit Jellies with Vanilla Sherbet


We could not fault the menu, the taste of the food and the quality.  It was fabulous.  They substituted any of the dishes I couldn’t have, which were two from memory and they made them as close to what they serve the others.  I also got to have  Mark Best’s signature dish, Beetroot Tart with fresh Horseradish Cream.  Honestly, it wasn’t my favourite and I felt I disappointed Mark when he asked about it, as it just did not do anything for me. 

The downside was the occassionally slack service.  One of our party decided to have the accompanying wines – this did not work too well, as from time to time it was not in tandem with the food.  Myself and the other at the table constantly had to ask for our drinks to be replenished, which we felt they should have been on top of.  It wasn’t a flat out night as far as patrons go.

My absolute favourite was the Sauternes Custard with Caramel and in fact, I had three.  Mine, another at the table and then they gave me an extra for almost killing me.  I was absolutely grateful and I even used my finger to scrap the bowl and lick it.  I would definately pop in there just for this dessert anytime.  I proudly admitted this to the chef.

To top the night off, the chef Mark Best came and joined our table.  He thought we were from Singapore and we took no time to assure him that we were nowhere near as sophisticated as the Singaporeans, but we do love our food.  Not only did he join our table to talk about the food, he graciously signed our menus for the night and then had several photos with us.

Whilst the service could not and did not compare with Tetsuya’s, the food was excellent and Mark Best did keep an eye on his patrons throughout the evening, even coming onto the floor from time to time.  In fact, he showed one of us to the bathroom.

Would I go back, absolutely.  In fact, we are extremely glad we missed Mardi Gras in light of the great night we ended up having.  There was also no doubts in having another degustation meal. Ten points for the personal approach at the end of the night.

Monday, 6 August, 2007, 7:05 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Sydney, Dining


What better way to start a Saturday morning in Sydney, than breakfast at bill’s.  We climb into a cab and high tailed it to Surry Hills.  We were in a hurry because prior to getting to Sydney, I had tried to book us a table, considering that we were flying from Darwin to eat at this establishment, we did not want to miss out.  When I called, I advised the person taking the call (Ian) that we were coming from Darwin and that was the only day we had to enjoy a meal at bill’s. Ian advised me that they did not take bookings, never have, no matter how far we were travelling and we would have to line up and wait like everyone else.  Although it would be best to arrive between 7.30 and 8.00am.  We were kinda a bit jacked off at the attitude, but I was determined I was going to eat the fare of one of my favourite chefs.

Fortunately this Saturday morning we just walked in and took a seat at the communal dining table and oohed and aahhed at the menu.  To be honest I had researched all the menus of the  restaurants we were dining in for the trip, so I knew exactly what I wanted.

So what did we order?  One of us had the scrambled eggs with aged cheddar and bacon, the other had the ricotta hotcakes and I had the sweet corn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon.  We were all very happy with our breakfasts and were totally stuffed.  It was a good thing that we had a hearty breakfast, as we had a lot of walking to do, as we were going to Mao and More for a look around and I think i

t took us a good thirty minutes to get there.  We did find some great places along the way and soaked up being able to walk long distances without getting sweaty like we do at home. 

We did find Surry Hills a little hilly compared to what we are used to.  By the way breakfast for three came to $74.80. I was also on the look out for Ian, just to advise that he needed a bit of an attitude adjustment and also remind him of the fact that what is the big deal about reserving a table for three Darwin girls who took a whole day to fly down and eat at his establishment!

Since returning home, I have cooked all the dishes we ate for breakfast when in Sydney from Bill’s cookbooks and they are still superb even though I cooked it.

China Doll
Sunday, 5 August, 2007, 12:17 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Sydney, Dining


The China Doll came highly recommended by two dear friends, Rita and Donna and was promptly included on our itinerary.  We patroinised this restauarnt on a Sunday night and decided to use this opportunity to treat our very gracious hosts, Louise and Paul to dinner as a thank you for letting us stay in their beautiful home.

Apart from a slightly strange waitress, the maitre ‘d was easy on the eye and interested in one of the ladies at our table.  I, unfortunately had succumbed to the worst case of sinus (it had been building up over the previous days) so limited my alcohol intake – disappointing somewhat as we had some fabulous wines, but I did not want to miss out on tasting the food.  I stuck to cranberry juice – figured the vitamin content had to assist!



Pictured above is the wall mural inside the restaurant, which is featured on the China Doll’s business cards.  The toilets are worth visiting (love the blue and white china plates as door handles) and the collection of blue and white china above and in front of the kitchen, sparked my interest, as I too collect blue and white china pieces.

We collectively ordered the $65 per head banquet and also ordered the Twice Cooked Duck with Plum and Tamarind Sauce.  Other dishes devoured included Tea Smoked Ocean Trout with Green Herb Salad and Nam Jim, Chilli Salt Squid, Steamed Pork and Prawn Wontons with Chinese Black Vinegar and Sago Pudding with Fresh Passionfruit and Mango to mention a few.  We always treid to photograph our dishes, but sometimes we got carried away eating before we had a chance.  Unfortunately I only have one photograph!

Wines enjoyed included 2003 Château Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes – Bordeaux France, Gembrook Hill 2005 Sauvignon, 2003 Alvear PX Anada Blancs  and a Waipara Downs Wine.

For five people, the night came to $647.40.  I think this is reasonable for the quality of food and wines that were consumed and we certainly went home very content.  Next time in Sydney, I will certainly dine here again.  Not to mention the city skyline at sunset and the many luxury boats moored at the wharf.  The beautiful people also wander up and down the wharf and make for interesting people watching.

Hong Tai
Saturday, 28 July, 2007, 12:07 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin, Dining

Last night we went to an old faithful, the Hong Tai for dinner.  Located in Aralia Street in Nightcliff, this restaurant is pretty daggy, but the food is outstanding.  They have one waitress that manages the floor and considering how busy it was last night (booked out and it is only a small restaurant) she did a good job.

The Hong Tai serves both Chinese and Thai food and is BYO.  Last night we had vintage Moet (2000) and Piper Hiedsieck as our drinks of choice and they complemented the food perfectly.  We are such regulars, that the waitress does not mind us getting our own drinks and letting her know what we had.  In fact, sometimes when it is busy we seem to serve ourselves.  That is the type of place it is – very casual.

On that note, there is no need to dress up.  Casual dress is the way to go.

Between the seven of us we ate garlic squid, sweet and sour pork, crispy fried chicken, Mongolian lamb, tofu with Chinese vegetables, duck with brown mushrooms, beancurd combination soup, tom yum soup and four serves of mixed entrees.  Let’s not forget the special fried rice and the prawn crackers.

All up, the meal cost $50 per couple and was extremely good value.  The taste was superb and as usual we gorged ourselves.  We left the restaurant very full, content and not to mention a little merry.