New kid on the block: Frankie’s Pizza Joint

 

“Casual, chic, disco, fun,” is how owner of Frankie’s Pizza Joint, Alana Matthews, sums up the new Darwin City restaurant/bar.

Located in the Smith Street Mall (the old Viva’s bar), a stone’s throw away from PM Eat & Drink, the tapas restaurant Alana and husband Ji opened to acclaim in 2016, Frankie’s is very much the couple’s “second child”. Quite literally.

As well as the pair’s second business, Frankie is also the name picked out for a potential second child.

Inside this new kid on the foodie block, the first thing you notice is the shiny disco ball hanging from the ceiling complete with neon pink lights. It sets the mood from the moment you walk in the door.

“We wanted to create a place that was really casual and fun where you could be sitting with friends drinking wine and having a great time and then you look at the time and realise its 1:30am,” says Ji.

Like the décor, the wine list is also a point of difference to PM. It’s noticeably cheaper. And deliberately so.

Alana and Ji make no secret Frankie’s is targeting a younger crowd with disco beats and a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights.

Speaking of wine, of course they’re all Italian, much like the two chefs in the kitchen who hail from Milan and Venice and make all the pizza dough, pasta and bread on site everyday from scratch.

And it shows. The gnocchi was the best we’ve ever had.

Five stars also goes to the venue’s signature cocktail, Frankie’s Sweet Heart.

In keeping with the blush colour palette of the interiors, it’s a sweeter, “pink” take on the traditional Aperol Spritz with Limoncello and cranberry added.

Which brings us to the pizza. And yes we saved the best for last.

As Ji says: “They’re light and fresh and won’t leave you with a food coma.”

We had the FFPJ, the pizza named after the venue, with prosciutto, cherry tomato, rocket, fior di latte (Italian mozzarella) and oregano.

But wait, we hear you say, what does the extra F stand for?

Well, after spending months pouring blood, sweat and tears into the new business, Ji says the name evolved into something else… F*cking Frankie’s Pizza Joint – FFPJ see?

As for our verdict on the new place?

It’s F*cking awesome.

 

Frankie’s Pizza Joint

Paspalis Building, Smith Street Mall (the old Viva’s bar)

Open:

Tues-Thurs 12pm-10pm

Fri-Sat 12pm-2am

More information here.

Darwin Heli-Pub Crawl

Beer. Helicopters. More beer. It’s no wonder you’ll find the Darwin Heli-Pub Tour at the top of even most locals’ bucket list.

This local included.

So, when we recently had the opportunity to tick it off ours, naturally we headed straight to Delaney’s and bought a new akubra just for the occasion.

When you’re about to go on the most outback tour imaginable – hey, you gotta look the part!

So, Akubra in hand we belt up for our three-pub tour (there’s also the option of visiting five pubs), which starts with a scenic flight to the first stop: Crab Claw Island.

The fly over is a feast for the eyes with incredible views over Darwin Harbour, its vivid blues flowing in twists and turns through luscious green mangroves.

Crab Claw Island Resort is nestled on a peaceful stretch of beach and offers a typical Territory style pub where you can unwind under the palm trees and savour that first beer of the day.

After soaring over vast bush land and mountains of termite mounds, we land at pub number two: Darwin River Tavern.

This place oozes outback, from the timber walls to pet buffaloes, but the menu is surprisingly extensive.

Fresh barramundi and wagyu beef burgers were washed down with yet more beer before it was time to head to the third and final pub: Goat Island Lodge.

This place is folklore in the Top End so we were itching to see it for ourselves.

If you’re not aware of the backstory, Goat Island, situated in the middle of the crocodile infested Adelaide River, is owned by Dutchman Kai “Happy” Hansen and it’s population is: 1.

Well, that’s if you don’t count Kai’s crazy dog “Hotdog” or pet crocodile ***eeeeep!

King Kai, as he prefers to be called, has an open bar policy, loves beer and a laugh and is THE most Territory bloke you will ever meet.

On Goat Island the pace is slow, the yarns are long and strangers quickly become friends.

So take your time, it is a pub “crawl” after all.

 

Darwin Heli-Pub Tour:

Airborne Solutions

 

Staycation @ Hilton Darwin

The “Staycation” trend is here to stay (pun unintended!). So, in the name of “research” we recently had the tough job of experiencing a little weekend getaway at the Hilton Darwin.

Perched on the 20th floor, our Executive Room offered sweeping views of Darwin Harbour.

But, Robe Life would have to wait as our first order of relaxation on this little staycation was High Tea at the hotel’s Mitchell’s Bar on the ground floor.

A relatively new product for Hilton Darwin, the High Tea included a bottle of Chandon Brut sparkling (yesssssssssssssss) and three plates with generous servings (NB: do not have lunch beforehand, we found the servings very substantial and struggled to finish all the sweets!).

The savory plate featured tasty finger sandwiches on either multi-grain or brown bread (who said High Tea couldn’t be #HealthLiving?!) with fillings including fresh smoked salmon with cream cheese and capers, grilled vegetables and turkey with mustard and pickles.

The second plate was easily our fav – scones with jam, cream and strawberries… soooooo yum! The final plate included a section of sweet treats think chocolate éclairs, macaroons, banana cake and strawberries.

The Hilton Darwin has recently undergone an extensive $10 million refurbishment and you could really tell with 5-star luxury at every corner as well as 5-star service too. The lovely staff from the High Tea even sent takeaway coffees back to our room as well as the left over champers.

An early morning swim at the hotel’s pool on the 10th floor over-looking the Darwin skyline was the perfect start to our lazy Sunday which was followed up by a delicious buffet breakfast at Mitchell’s Grill which to our delight included espresso coffee.

It was a tough job this research, so what was our verdict?

The only bad thing about a staycation is the check-out.

 

More Information:

Hilton Darwin’s Weekend High Tea – $60 per person, includes a bottle of Chandon Brut or $25 per person for standard inclusion (without the sparkling)

Available each weekend from 11am to 4pm.

Booking details – ph: (08) 89824155 or email: Mitchells_Restaurant_Darwin@hilton.com

www.darwin.hilton.com

 

The Lucky Bat Cafe

The Lucky Bat Cafe oozes Darwin. A hand-painted cyclone isobar weather map stretches over the walls, which are adorned by colourful pops of art depicting Darwin icons like barramundi, dragon flies, and salty plums.

For anyone who grew up in Darwin, it’s like stepping into a time machine and being spat out in the 90s. Of the brightly coloured screen printed shirts that also hang on the walls, one even shows the old ‘Rite Price’ sign. **Cue memories of grocery shopping with your parents.

A collaboration of artistic minded friends, The Lucky Bat Cafe cleverly meshes this classic Darwin narrative with a modern hipster vibe via plenty of potted plants, wood, antique spoons and touches of neon.

Everything inside was handmade by the owners or recycled. Even the chairs are old-school… literally. You probably sat on them in your classroom days.

“We really wanted to bring a Darwin feel to the Cafe and the bohemian, beachy vibe of Nightcliff,” said owner Danny Chrichton.

“We’ll be showcasing local and emerging artists – a different artist each month.”

The menu is also a nod to Darwin with mango shakes and fresh herbs but it’s the baked eggs which have quickly become a crowd favourite.

“The food is food we love to eat ourselves: fresh, healthy and super tasty,” said Danny.

And it sounds like the Lucky Bat team have plans to take over Gotham – sorry Nightcliff – soon with a courtyard behind the cafe featuring a four-tonne wood fired oven to open shortly.

And for those wondering, the inspo for the Cafe’s name came from a trip to George Town in Penang, Malaysia where the famous colonial buildings have bats and other motifs carved into the wood reportedly to bring the occupants inside good luck.

From what we’ve seen, we’ve no doubt good fortune will be flying the Lucky Bat’s way soon.

The Lucky Bat Cafe: 3/7 Pavonia Place, Nightlife

Open: Tue-Sun 7am-2pm

More info: Facebook page here.

 

Eat Local Dinner @ Wharf One

When you say the word “hump” a few things might spring to mind…but we bet a mouth-watering serve of beef isn’t one of them.

But, that’s exactly what was served up at Wharf One’s ‘Eat Local Dinner’ prepared by former MasterChef contestant, Lynton Tapp as part of the inaugural Territory Taste Festival last week.

The special four-course dinner with matching wines featured produce sourced locally (think fresh seafood like prawns, ah-mazing barramundi, mackerel, kangaroo, citrus flavours and damper) with Lynton basically serving up his idea of the Northern Territory on a plate.

And, having grown up on a remote cattle farm, the Territory chef made the bold choice of plating up Brahman Hump.

For the non-Territorians out there, Brahman cattle is often considered the poor cousin to the Angus steak you normally carve up at your fav restaurant but you might not know that this tasty cow is actually our main cattle exported overseas.

The Brahman is easily identified by it’s stand-out “hump” over the withers at the back of their necks. Apparently, it helps the animal survive in hot, arid conditions ie. the Northern Territory.

Now, we’re not going to lie.. there were a few raised eyebrows on our table after it was revealed the Brahman Hump was on the menu and yes, a few verses of the Black Eyed Peas were sung at various points during the night…

But, it was absolutely delicious! Everyone was genuinely surprised at how tender the meat was comparing it to pulled pork. The Hump was served with blackened cucumber and fermented chilli and was hands-down our fav dish of the night.

But enough about the food … what about the wine?!

As part of the dinner, the winemakers up from down south for the Territory Taste Festival talked about each wine presented, which as you can imagine involved a fair few LOL’s (these guys do drink for a living after all). Our fav drops were the Salome Tempranillo Rosé and the Woodstock Chardonnay.

Quote of the night went to the winemaker who said he “feels naked without a Chardonnay in his hand”…

All we can say to that is… Welcome to the Northern Territory. We’ve got no beef with that here.

 

Restaurant: Wharf One Food & Wine

Chef: Lynton Tapp

More information about the Territory Taste Festival here.

Territory Taste Festival

Good food, great wine, a mojito (or two) a beer garden and sunshine were the ingredients for a perfect weekend at the inaugural Territory Taste Festival at the Darwin Convention Centre.

The size of the Festival blew us away.. it was huge! And it was just as well as the place was packed with organisers saying the Fest attracted a crowd of 10,000 over the weekend.

It was a pretty hot so thank god most of the event was held indoors in the air conditioning. There were all kinds of food on offer from scones and jam to paella to loaded fries complete with jalapenos (mmmm loooooooooooooove jalapenos).

We were also fortunate to taste some incredible barramundi cooked up by legendary Australian Chef, Matt Moran, on the big screen at one of the Festival’s many live cooking demonstrations. Needless to say it was delish.

But, the highlight for us was the wine bar hosted by Liquor Down Under.

It was literally standing room only as Darwinites and visitors gathered around wine barrels to taste test drops hailing from wineries in Margaret River, the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. In true Darwin-style, strangers became friends and things got pretty chatty pretty fast.

A couple of the winemakers on hand remarked at their surprise at how popular the stand was as they were told Territorians were “beer drinkers”.

Well, if the Territory Taste Festival was anything to go by, the beer drinkers might have to move over.

These days it seems you’re more likely to find an Espresso Martini and a glass of red in our beer gardens.

Cheers to that.

High Tea at The Pearl

 

If you’re looking for a beautiful, elegant day out with your girlfriends look no further.

We were super excited to finally try The Pearl’s Champagne High Tea on the weekend and we weren’t disappointed.

It’s intimate. It’s classy.

And it comes with bottomless French champagne.

Have we got you’re attention yet?

After a first course of oysters followed by chicken liver parfait with cognac served with a French baguette and mini pickles, out comes the prettiest tiered platter of canapés and deserts we’ve ever seen.

Smoked rainbow trout rillettes, fresh figs with feta and honey, watermelon with black olive tapenade and feta and……..

Homemade truffles and marshmallows. **DROOOOOOL

At $99 a person it’s definitely a splurge for a girls day out but well worth it.

Did we mention the bottomless French champagne?

 

The Pearl Champagne High Tea

Saturdays 12-3:30pm

More details on The Pearl’s Facebook page here.

Ciao Bella!

Ciao! This year’s Italian Festival was bellissimo! And double the size!

Held every two years and organised by Darwin’s Italian Association, this year’s event was moved to Civic Park to cater for bigger crowds (and avoid last year’s situ of running out of food…).

New location, bigger and better… it was a lovely afternoon sitting under the trees enjoying good company, good food and good (Italiano) vibes.

This year they even had a replica Trevi Fountain! Super cool.

All the usual Italian suspects were there food-wise: pasta, wood fired pizza, seafood, antipasto, panini and more. We had pasta and Italian sausage (Salsiccia) in sourdough by The Trader, which was delish! Love the The Trader gals, they can do no wrong.

It was great to see Civic Park turned into a sea of red, white and green and we’ve no doubt the party continued well into the night.

Grazie!

Meet Po Pia

This is Po Pia. Po Pia is your frand.

Quite possibly the best thing ever invented, we have these babies for breakfast/brunch/lunch every Saturday from the Parap Markets. Without fail. And when the Mindil Beach Markets start up in the Dry Season (April-Oct) we have them on Thursday and Sundays too.

They are hot delicious-ness wrapped in a deep fried parcel dipped in oh-so sweet goodness.

They are so good, they’re bad. That’s bad-ass.

Do not come to Darwin without devouring Po Pia – it’ll be the best decision you’ll ever make, and they’ll be your new best friend. We promise.

#DStakeover – Eva’s Botanical Gardens Cafe

For our first ever Instagram take over we were delighted to taste-test the new menu at one of our fav hangouts – Eva’s Botanical Gardens Cafe.

Surrounded by the beautiful Botanic Gardens, it was easy to find plenty of inspo for our 24 hours in charge of Eva’s Insta account.

The new menu also takes its cue from the Gardens with lots of fresh fruit and flavours and we loved that it was all #healthyliving.

Think ingredients like chia, bee pollen and kale.

For breakfast, we had the new Chia Pot and Coconut Bircher both of which come with a generous helping of fresh fruit. Kudos for the almonds in the Bircher – love that added crunch!  Another new item on the menu that looked fab and would be a perfect brunch for two was the Eva’s Breakfast Board which comes with ham off the bone, avocado, tomato salsa, basil pesto, labneh, sourdough, boiled egg, rocket, olive oil.

We’ll be back to try that one fo sure.

As for the coffee … the regular brew has always been great but let’s talk about something new.

The V6o Pour Over Filter coffee.

Apparently, this style of coffee is all the rage overseas and according to Eva’s master barista, Jag, a first for Darwin. It takes a little longer than a normal brew and is made with hot water through a sci-fi looking filter thingy. (See pics above for a little of the process).

The New York Times has described Pour Over as “coffee’s slow dance” and even labelled the experience as: “…picking up a drafting pen after only writing with Magic Markers.” Not a bad rap.

You don’t have the drink with milk so it is lighter than the regular deal and you can taste more of the flavours. We found it quite refreshing and according to Jag – it’s the perfect afternoon drink as it’s lower in caffeine.

But enough about coffee… back to the fooooooood. There are a number of new items on the menu for lunch that’ll have you drooling including a range of new sandwiches available on either sourdough or multigrain and salads. We had the Pulled Pork sandwich and Detox Kale salad – which was THE BOMB.

It comes with a “lemon and agave” dressing …. now, not sure what agave is but boy! It has zing!

We had great fun taking over Eva’s Insta and trying all their yummy food. Hope you like the pics.

xx DS

P.S The puppy in the pic above is Gizmo. A customer’s French Bulldog (Eva’s is dog-friendly). Isn’t he just the cutest?!!!!