A Wellington institution marks its first decade.


Ten years have passed, yet Wellington’s favourite waterfront venue merrily rocks on louder than ever, its sprawling dining room continuing to entertain us with a rare cross-section of Wellington society: a man with his cap turned backwards lounges next to a table of uptight highflyers in $3000 suits, proudly displaying their $822 bottle of vintage Taittinger. Meanwhile over the way, there’s a huddle of prosperous tradies swigging beer from the bottle and hoeing into their whopper steaks.


While the wide scope of its menu elevates Charley Noble above the level of a steak house, the carefully sourced, high-end protein remains the core attraction. Helicopter shooting and swift, hygienic processing ensure Awatoru’s wild venison is never strong and gamey. Moreover, head chef Patrick Haddow’s treatment of it is genius: cumin-tinged beetroot purée and chocolate sauce complement the earthy venison base notes, while labneh and radicchio offer sharp contrast. Tarte Tatin, for once, is not made with pineapple or pear, but with the original, never-to- be-out-caramelised apple, burnished to golden perfection. Très chic.



“It all gets back to French technique in the end,” smiles executive chef Darren Shead, who has overseen everything at Charley Noble since day one. These days, Darren divides his time between the restaurant and owner Pengyu Du’s newish catering arm, The Food Lab, which also supplies Charley Noble with filleted fish, smoked meats and stocks. Menus are a collaboration between Darren and Patrick, who previously worked at Dundee’s Tay Park House boutique hotel in his native Scotland.


General Manager Melissa (Mel) Lind aims to encourage staff loyalty and career commitment by being a good employer. Accordingly, a good portion of her staff have been there from three to seven years.


The key to Charley Noble’s roaring success may well lie in severely restricting bookings on the one hand, while on the other, providing 40 seats in the bar, where walk-in customers can comfortably wait for a table and boost their spend by ordering an apéritif or three. As Mel puts it, “It’s less in-out, than have you got 3-4 hours?” Not wishing to feel conspicuous, solitary diners favour the high stools of the Raw Bar, overlooking the reality TV show that is the open kitchen.

ADDRESS: 1 Post Office Square, Te Aro, Wellington
Check website for opening hours
MAINS: $30 – $82
CONTACT: 0508 242 753