Restaurant review: Charley Noble adds special dishes for winter
Charley Noble 1 Post Office Square, Wellington, 6011.
We'd heard… that Charley Noble has added special winter dishes to its standard restaurant menu, and so we wanted to see what chefs could do with ordinary vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower. Chef and co-owner Paul Hoather is working reduced hours after sadly suffering a stroke in October, and so we were keen to see if the food was as good without him at the stove.
We started with… Charley Noble's iconic bruschetta. Braised grapes, prosciutto and goats cheese piled on crunchy sourdough for the carnivores, and fire roasted tomato, basil and smoky white bean on other slices of sourdough for those of us avoiding meat tonight ($9 a serve). We preferred the latter, the smoky white bean and smoky tomato flavours exploding on our palates.
We also devoured two flavours of arancini - mushroom venison ragu was the pick over the tomato mozzarella and basil ($7.50 each). Charley Noble calls its mains large plates, and so I ordered the fire grilled cauliflower steak ($20) - manfood for the vegetarians - which came out literally appearing like a steak, with a sauce of almond, currant, capers and sherry running around it like a moat. I had never tasted cauliflower so good. Our friends felt the same about the wedge of red cabbage which appeared like a huge wedge of cake, served and topped with crisp Jerusalem artichoke, puffed rice and preserved lemon ($19). They also packed their plates with the house pot pie ($28). My partner salivated over the scotch fillet steak ($42) served with a truffle butter (he could choose from a selection of sauces) accompanied by a creamy, winter root vegetables slaw ($9).
The service was… We felt neglected when we arrived by front of house staff as we waited for a table. Once at our table, things improved, and our chatty waiter on his OE was personable and relatively knowledgeable about the menu.
The vibe... On a wintry night, Charley Noble was a glowing beacon on Jervois Quay, alive with packed tables, noisy diners and delicious smells wafting from the open plan kitchen. The expansive restaurant in a 1930s building has a retro, industrial vibe. It's always busy, so if you're looking for fantastic food and a hit of Wellington action, it's a reliable pick - although you'll probably have to wait for a table.
If you go, try this… the lamb shoulder or pork belly from Charley Noble's woodfired rotisserie oven - proving that meats other than chicken can be rotisserie cooked. Well done Paul Hoather. We hope to see you in your chef whites next time.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.