An evening dinner with family friends. Try as we may, the word buffet seems inseparable with the words overeating and gluttony!
Location: Pump House, Stokes Hill Wharf (opposite the Darwin convention centre see map)
Website: no official website, but useful information available at yourrestaurant reviews and a lovely picture of the jetty at night on bestrestaurants reviews
Price: ~$33 per person for the seafood buffet, extra for drinks
The Jetty Restaurant solely serves food from its buffet menu except for a special cooked oyster dish at an additional $15+ per serving.
Bread rolls and soup - pumpkin soup was rich, creamy and the consistency was just right - neither too thick nor too thin. Bread rolls were crunchy but soft on the inside and went well with butter, or the soup.
Seafood and salads - I started my meal with seafood and salads. The cold seafood available included prawns, raw oyster, mussels, and an octopus salad. The oyster was definitely not fresh and left an unpleasant aftertaste. The prawn was an improvement and had the fresh original taste that cold prawns should have. Salads included regular garden salad, a potato salad and a (strange tasting) corn and beans salad. Average in taste and creativity.
Western mains - hot meats include thick juicy steak with mushroom sauce, pork steak, sticky chicken wings and buttered barramundi fish. I always look forward to the steak, although some pieces are more tender and delicious than others. The chicken wing marinate was scrumptious and my sister had 6 pieces all to herself. Other dishes include pasta, potato bake, mixed vegetables and roasted vegetables including pumpkin, potato and carrots. The potato bake was enjoyable, with thoroughly cooked potatoes in a smooth creamy sauce. However, the roasted veggies were disappointing as they were either not cooked properly, or soggy instead of crunchy.
Asian mains - crispy roast pork was the only dish I enjoyed in this section. The pork skin was exceptionally crunchy and the meat was tender, with just the right amount of flavouring. Otherwise, there were many typical Asian (or rather Australian Asian) takeaway foods including fried rice, fried noodles, fried (fake) crab claws, salt and pepper squid, plum chicken and spring rolls. I despise supposedly Chinese takeaway foods, it's oily and tastes nothing like anything I've eaten in China. Plus, the quality served here was not at all superior to the dishes from the cheap takeaway stores at your local shopping centre.
Desserts - disappointing, as I'm certain the selection of fruits and cakes were better when we first dined at this restaurant years ago. I'm sure there used to be pavlovas and I love the crunchy exterior and sickly sweetness of pavlovas, tempered by a swirl of cream. But the cake selection today was limited to passionfruit cheesecake (slightly soft, but still yummy), unappetising lemon cake and chocolate cake, like the cheap kind you buy from supermarkets.
Other: the environment was lovely, quite lively and busy but not too noisy. Lighting was dim and especially dark if you chose the seating option outdoors. However, outdoor dining is a charming experience, as the deck extends over the waters and gives a great view of the sea and coasts.
Rating: 2.5/5 the quality and variety of foods was thoroughly disappointing, with a few redeeming exceptions. However, the feel of the restaurant and view outside still compels us to return when the occasion calls for something a little "fancier" than our usual haunts. Personally I prefer the taste and affordability of the eatery at the other side of the Wharf.
In comparison with the other buffets in Darwin - for less than $30 we could eat a better seafood buffet, with more dessert and drink options at Sunset Restaurant, Skycity (Darwin's casino). But the Jetty is still cheaper than the $40+ Seafood on Cullen buffet although it's been too long since I've been there to compare the quality of food. Altogether I don't love buffets as I used to - although you can take "as much as you want" of anything and everthing, a meal with too many dishes spoils the enjoyment of each individual dish.