PepperBerry Restaurant

PepperBerry Restaurant

COVID-19 has really screwed us over this year, but some good things have come from it. Hilton Darwin has used the lock down to terminate the old restaurant, and from the ashes rises the fine dining phoenix now known as PepperBerry Restaurant. Not that there was much wrong with the old one, but now they're doubling down and going all out with a really nice new fit out. The decor, fabrics, carpet, lighting and seating allowing for an intimate and cozy setting without feeling like you need to whisper like a mouse. There's no annoying loud music, none at all actually, except what was coming faintly from the hotel lobey. The only real music is that of the wait staff singing exotic ingredients to your table.

It was a fairly busy night with several small groups and many couples on dates, but not once did I consider it noisy. Most people seemed to actually not be hotel guests, which I think speaks to the rising popularity of this place, as new as it is. The adjacent bar looks rather fancy too, even more so with the high ceiling, spacious seating and moody lighting. Think Hollywood movie where the main protagonist gets drunk at the bar, pours their life story to the bartender, and then gets taken advantage of by a very attractive Russian spy. 

Customer service is amazing as always, in fact, Liendro who took care of us at Double Tree Hilton Aqua five years ago and don't recall seeing since, remembered who we were and didn't bother asking who we were when we walked in, showed us straight to our table. That's a total boss move. He and the other staff were fantastic and quite theatrical in their performance throughout the night, the way they stand, move their hands, correct the angle of your placemats with scientific precission - so many small touches that you would never expect at a regular restaurant. Always there when you need them and hidden when not ― ninjas basically. I think I drank about two litres of water too thanks to one very attentive team member was on water duties and would never let my cup reach empty. I see water ― I automatically drink, then she'd notice my cup getting low and would come and fill it up again, which meant I got myself stuck in a bit of a water drinking loop.

In honour of the fantastic service we experienced, Darwin Foodies will now rate venue waitstaff service in Liendro units ― 10 Liendros being equal to the man himself and a lowly 1 Liendro being the Hungry Jacks Casuarina drive-through. We'll give all the staff here 10 Liendros across the board. All other restaurants in town should send their staff here for dinner and learn a thing or ten.

The menu is "Australian modern contemporary cuisine combined with bush spices". Pics of the menu at the time of writing are at the bottom of this review. Prices are quite reasonable and lower than I expected for a fine dining establishment. Starters are mid-teens, mains in the low 30s. Steaks in the mid-30s ― I've seen higher prices for the same sizes of beef elsewhere. Serving sizes are just right without being "fine dining stingy on a big plate". I would still recommend you get a starter or two though so that your belly is sufficiently filled by the end of the night. Also of note is the cups they use for soft drinks are bloody huge!

PepperBerry Restaurant - scallops starter

After perusing the menu, we had a tough decision to make, but for starters went with 1) seared scallops with truffle pea puree & chorizo crumble and 2) char-grilled squid, spicy chipotle aioli, native saltbush dust.

The scallops were perfectly cooked, the truffle pea puree giving it a bit of a kick. I noted one review on Google that said the chorizo was too overpowering, but I felt the opposite here. I love a hot spicy sausage. 

PepperBerry Restaurant - squid starter

The squiz. THE SQUID. OMFG. Lucky my partner is not a fan of the tubular sea creature, because it was absolutely freaking delicious and I would have fought her for the last piece. Tender AF grilled perfection. The creamy chipotle aioli made from a baby angel's tears no doubt. The whole plate was a titillating mami assualt direct to the tasties. Maybe the best squid dish I've had in my life and proof that squid doesn't actually come out of the ocean battered and dusted with salt and pepper.

For mains we had 1) slow cooked pork belly with charred leek, saffron infused pear, chilli ginger kakadu plum caramel, topped with wattlesee & peanut crumble and 2) the grilled lime and chilli NT barramundi with mango rum sauce, broccolini, chat potatoes and native saltbush dukkah. So fancy.

PepperBerry Restaurant - slow cooked pork belly

The pork was slow cooked and had the fat rendered down to a buttery delight, however, some bits of the skin was a bit tough. All the other elements on the plate were fantastic too, but after a while the sweetness of the caramel and pear along with the fattiness of the pork was a bit too much. Something acidic to cut through would be appreciated. 

PepperBerry Restaurant - NT Barramundi

The local barra dish was amazing according to my life partner in crime. The kitchen treating the fish right, snow-white flesh cooked perfectly and paired creatively with everything else on the plate. I know it's real good when the wife only gives me a small piece to try out, even when she knows I'm on review duties.

There is a small kids menu selection of the usual frozen foods straight from the packet. Which as any parent would know, is all the little gremlins eat. You can be the most amazing cook in the world but that doesn't mean shit when the only thing your kids eat is chips and nuggets. My offspring were quite happy with their wallet-friendly meals at $9 a pop.

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate

To finish the night we had a Chocolate Sin, which as it sounds, is basically everything they could think of involving chocolate on a plate. Definitely a very rich and indulgent chocolate experience, and one you'll want to share as it quite a lot of chocolate for one person to tackle.

For a special treat, celebration, intimate moment, a reward to your taste buds or just a pleasant evening, you should most definitely check out PepperBerry Restaurant. They even do 4 course wine pairing evenings too -  tickets required so check out their Facebook page to keep an eye out for upcoming slots. The food is great by itself, but the service and venue really help to elevate the whole dining experience to something wonderful. 

PepperBerry Restaurant menu: