A renowned fine-dining chef adds a touch of refinement to gastropub fare.


Recently refurbished with Scandi-style furniture and bold contemporary chandeliers, the Duke of Wellington gastropub attracts an after-work drinking crowd of professionals and corporates, drawn from the CBD and the nearby government offices, law courts and parliament.


Tea towel napkins, tabletop boxes of cutlery and bottles of HP Sauce clearly position the Duke as a purveyor of pub fare. Just as might be expected, there is an entire section of the menu devoted to burgers, but for those with more rarefied tastes there is plenty to discover, even with old faves such as salt and pepper squid, sprinkled with lemon and freshly pickled red onion, its mayonnaise subtly accented with miso. A whole camembert is oven baked to molten ooziness rather than being crumbed and deep-fried as it would have been in the eighties. Its garnish is also improved by modern restraint: garlic soldiers and a light drizzle of honey, rather than the heavy berry compote of the period. Steak and chips are garnished with Bordelaise butter, mixed with finely chopped shallots and given a slightly tangy, cultured edge. Braised lamb shank, set over mash with vegetables and a red wine jus, is resolutely classic and all the better for it – moist and succulent yet falling off the bone.


The rustic bistro fare is easily within the grasp of French-born Laurent Loudeac, who is best known to Wellingtonians for his 10-year stint at the helm of one of the capital’s leading fine-dining restaurants, Hippopotamus.


While there is table service, in the final analysis this is a pub, and since the waiting staff must also work the bar, there is only so much they can offer. That said, they do display adequate knowledge of the menu and the drinks list and delivery of dishes is swift.


The restaurant operates Monday to Friday only, and the kitchen closes at 8pm, which suits those who have a penchant for pre-theatre dining. However, since the restaurant is typically very busy around 6pm, this creates a bottleneck for those suffering time constraints. The solution, as offered by the waiting staff, is to ask you to consult the online menu and then phone in your orders, to be cooked for you upon arrival.