The Darwin waterfront is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The precinct is expansive, and spans the convention centre at one end, to the Stokes Hill Wharf at the opposite end. The stretch is lined with a multitude of dining options, and we were recommended the seafood at Crustaceans on the Wharf as a must-try.
Sitting right on the historic wharf, the casual restaurant, which is more glorified canteen than full-serviced restaurant, is breezy and bustling. During the dry season, the alfresco tables which offer a spectacular view into the sea, are snapped up fast, so make reservations early early.
While the food wasn't exactly mind-blowingly impressive, the seafood was one of the cheapest we've ever had. Our bill for three hearty dishes, including a whole lobster, came up to less than 100 buckaroos, which was unbelievably value-for-money. We liked that the grub here was rustic and uncomplicated, where a light touch was employed with the seafood to highlight its sparkling freshness.
Service though, was appallingly bad. We had front row seats to a senior staffer unprofessionally berating a trainee, which, really, was more embarrassing for the senior staffer than the poor trainee. Also, the cashier's claims of not being able to check with the kitchen if any of the dishes had parsley was ludicrous.
The Western Australia Lobster Mornay (A$29.90), of half a WA lobster slathered in a sumptuous mornay sauce and grated cheese, was grilled to a melty gooey perfection, and served with fat chips and simple salad.
The Char-Grilled Australian Prawn Platter (A$29.90), brimming with sweetness and lusciously burnished with garlic butter, was given a kick with a Thai spicy dip and lemon wedge. Salad greens lent a refreshing contrast.
The Grilled Local Wild Barramundi (A$25.90), seared a beautiful golden, was drizzled with garlic butter for flavour, while thick cut chips and a mesclun salad rode alongside.
Of course, we had a NZ white to wash all that gorgeous seafood down, and the Matua Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc (A$8), bursting with passionfruit flavours, was perfectly crisp and juicy.
Try and secure a table reservation alfresco, just before sunset, so you can watch the sun go down. It's spectacular.
The indoors, breezy with the wind tunnels, is better for rainy weather.
So, it's semi self-serviced, where you go to the cashiers, order and pay for your food, and someone will serve you the dishes when they're ready.
Crustaceans on the Wharf
Stokes Hill Road
Darwin Wharf Precinct
Darwin CBD NT 0800
Tel: (08) 8981 8658
Open daily from 5.30pm to 12midnight