Moorish Cafe, Darwin

A tapas bar/restaurant in the heart of the city centre, Moorish is constantly lauded as a must-try in Darwin. Boisterous and fabulous, the restaurant is a perpetual full-house. It's little wonder why locals throng to the vibrant bar-restaurant: the food, which draws its inspiration from the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East, puts a refreshingly unique spin on local and seasonal produce. Flavours were riotous, compelling, and moreish, pun intended.

Service may get a little choppy, especially during peak dining hours, but staff were generally engaging, if a little frazzled. Just booze up and you won't even notice the inordinate lapses between the starters and mains.

The Tapenade Crusted NT Barramundi (A$35), juicy and robust with the salty tang of olives, was enlivened by lashings of olive oil, cherry tomatoes, roasted pumpkin, kalamata olives, roasted green beans, and anchovies.

The Dukkah Crusted Eye Fillet of Beef (A$39.50), set on a bed of sweet potato mash, was complemented by a rich bone marrow and red wine reduction.

A must-try, the Fried Cauliflower (A$8) was made punchy with a liberal powdering of moroccan spices. Absolutely smashing, and so good we took away another 2 portions of this.

We ordered this because it just sounded so unconventional on the menu. The Grilled Pork Belly (A$8.50) was slathered with chilli chocolate sauce. Surprisingly balanced, the mild bitter notes of the dark chocolate notes highlighted the sweet accents of the pork, while the chilli cut through the decadent fattiness of the belly.

Because the pork belly chocolate was so good, we then ordered the Chilli Chocolate Pudding (A$17), which chilli notes were as subtle as the chocolate was flush. A scoop of Belgian chocolate chip ice-cream and melty hot fudge were a lovely contrast of the hot and cold.

Even if the restaurant seems open-aired, it gets more cooled by the air-conditioning the closer you sit to the back.

Moorish Cafe
37 Knuckey Street
Darwin City, NT 0800
Open Tuesdays to Fridays from 9.30am to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 10pm for dinner;
Saturdays from 9am to 10pm;
Closed on Sundays and Mondays
Tel: +61 8 8981 0010
Website: www.moorishcafe.com.au

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