Charley Noble Wellington – Delicious Dining in the Capital

If you’re looking to enjoy world-class dining with quality New Zealand produce while you’re in the Land of the Long White Cloud, then you’re in luck. Charley Noble in Wellington has long held a reputation for being one of the best restaurants around and if my dining experience was anything to go by, it certainly holds up to its name.

We chose to sit at the bar for lunch for a bit more of an entertaining experience, watching the chefs expertly prepare the meals. I would absolutely chose to sit there again, I may have even picked up a few new chopping techniques!

We explored the menu and soon called over Justyna to help us choose – everything looked good. She pointed out a few items (some I would never have chosen without her suggestions) and we put together a few complimentary plates.

To start, we ordered the market ceviche, venison carpaccio and the pig’s tail salad. Yes, you read that correctly, the pig’s tail salad! Right there is one of the menu items I would have never chosen without Justyna’s influence. It is not what you would expect, well it wasn’t what I expected! Mandarin provided a perfect burst of sweetness contrasting the texture and taste of the crunchy pig’s tail (almost like crackling) and slightly acidic dressing. I highly recommend giving it a try.

The market fish ceviche was beautiful and light, with a lovely orange flavouring and delicious sweet and spicy candied chillies! The candies chillies were a first for me and I was both surprised and delighted with their flavour and texture – slightly crunchy, still with a nice chilli bite but also sweet from the sugar.

The venison carpaccio was a classic dish, well delivered. Quality, fresh local produce. The meat literally melts in your mouth. Must try.

The Charley Noble somelier, Jordan, was very knowledgeable and personable – my favourite! He perfectly matched my wine (Colere Pinot Gris – Pinot Blanc from Marlborough) with my entrees so that it didn’t clash with the candied chilli in the ceviche. The wine was lovely and oak-y, aged four years. Beautiful pairing to bring out the flavours.

For my main wine pairing I sampled two reds, ultimately going with a Waipara Pinot Noir from Greystone. Jordan said that particular wine is very popular, he can pair it with almost anything.

Again, Justyna was called in to help us chose our mains. We went with the super juicy and flavoursome house made pork sausages with had some wonderfully charred radiccio and pears to accompany them. The meat is sourced from the Wellington region and always free range. We couldn’t go past the risotto with zucchini, pecorino, house pesto and smoked baby tomato. Full of flavours and still quite light. Finally, we chose a side of eggplant, zucchini, parmesan and mozzarella bake, which as you can imagine was cheesy greatness.

On my next trip to Charley Noble I’d like to try their fish of the day. When I visited, snapper was sitting pretty on ice, sustainably caught, in the restaurant within a few hours. Actually, my list to try next time is quite large. There is the fire grilled cauliflower steak (looked amazing), anything from the woodfired rotisserie (dinner only) and their steaks are legendary. Can you see why I had so much trouble choosing what to eat?!

You’d think I would have no room left, but I couldn’t miss out on dessert! To sample some of everything I went with the petit fours. I loved the fluffy marshmallow with raspberry. The yoghurt panna cotta with crunchy ginger snap and caramelised pineapple was absolutely suburb, but the winner for me was the peanut butter and chocolate bar. I washed these down with a Passage Rock late harvest Cabernet from Waiheke. It was silkier than a port but still sweet in flavour, without being overbearing.

Amazing food, knowledgeable staff, lunch with a show, fantastic local wines, I was in a happy place.

Side note – I also wish I had tried the house made pasta. I was daydreaming watching the Chef making the pasta, when a waiter came over and asked me if I was done. I was so mesmerised that I nearly jumped out of my chair! The poor guy got such a surprise. Ha!

Charley Noble Eatery & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*While this dining experience was complimentary, this review is true and authentic. I will be back at Charley Noble on every trip to Wellington that I have an opportunity. And I’m starting with the pasta!

Excellent food, poor service at Hippopotamus, Wellington 

Having dined at Hippopotamus at QT Hotel (formerly Art Museum) with wonderful past experiences, it was disappointing to see such a decline in the service.
If this was a review purely on food, the restaurant would still sit very high in my books, however service accounts for much of the experience and they really let themselves down.

It was almost as if our table was just forgotten consistently. By the sommelier, the waitresses, the bar staff, the host. Other tables come and left while we were there over three hours.

They started off well. We were seated, poured water and drink orders taken. It took a while to get menus but they came eventually and followed closely by the amuse bouche. That was the end of the fast service, and the water filling now that I think of it.

With the help of the sommelier I had chosen an Italian red. They boast an extensive and international wine list, but only if you are buying by the bottle.

The amuse bouche was delightful, although I could not tell you what it was with the beautiful, thick French accents most of the staff have. It was salmon with poppy seeds and… a sauce, served with a sweet drink of cranberry and… other berries? It was fresh and light, a perfect start. Dad especially praised it to the wait staff to pass compliments to the Chef.

After asking for my water to be refilled three times with and without luck, I found the bottle and poured my own for the rest of the evening. At one stage the barman noticed I had tried to ask a waitress and she hadn’t heard so he came over to help. Great initiative but that was the end of it.

The bread took a long time to arrive (we thought they had forgotten), as did our entrees.

I had the King Ora salmon sashimi with soy jelly, wrapped in cucumber with wakame on top. Absolutely beautiful. The salmon melted in your mouth and the accompaniments went beautifully. Dad passed over two of his Bluff oysters, they were served shucked with the choice of a red or white wine dipping sauce. One oyster was questionable, the sauces had a nice tang to them.

We had another very long break while waiting for our mains. I chose the lamb rump and it was served perfectly rare. The eggplant was also lovely.

Earlier in the evening, Dad had enquired about what an item featured in one of the mains was, PicoPico (fern), and that he was interested in trying it. When his plate came out he couldn’t find the item on there, and asked the staff to point it out (it’s beautifully presented but you can’t tell what everything is) for him. The wait staff sheepishly came back over and explained it had been the most popular dish of the night and they had run out of the Pico Pico before he ordered. Considering this was why he had ordered that particular main and already enquired about that item, it was shocking to hear. Particularly as they hadn’t owned up to it earlier and wouldn’t have if it wasn’t questioned.

While we were at the table I had misplaced two rings. We were openly searching for them, with flashlights under the table and the staff came over during this time but never once asked if we needed help. I asked the barman to check downstairs which he said he would do immediately but then never came back to me.

I ordered the cheese for my dessert and the French cheeses were wonderful, as were the fig and pear that came with them. The sommelier helped my brother choose a limoncello to go with his dessert, the panna cotta, which although beautiful to look at, was unfortunately quite bland.

As you can imagine, with the four of us enjoying three courses each and multiple beverages, the bill was considerate. No words of condolances were expressed over the main muck up nor the long waits. In a place renowned for fine dining and where I have had many excellent experiences before, it was highly disappointing to have such poor service and I won’t be visiting again for some time. I hope it was just a one off.


Hippopotamus - Museum Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spa Intercontinental, Wellington 

I had the delight of experiencing one of Wellington’s best Day Spa’s while I was visiting last week.

After hearing about the renovations at the Intercontinental Hotel Wellington, I booked in for the thermal mud mask and massage signiture experience at Spa Intercontinental for some R&R at the end of my trip.

I felt well taken care of from the moment I walked in and met my therapist. She talked me through my treatment (eep mud!) and led me into a beautiful, low lit room.

The treatment began with a back cleanse, before the mud was applied. Glorious warm Rotorua mud allllll over my back. My back was then wrapped up and my head massage began.

I don’t know about you, but when I have a head massage, my eyes start rolling back in my head. It’s another state of relaxation all together for me. I never want it to end.

Once the mud wrap was washed off my back I had a lovely back, neck and shoulder oil massage to finish. My skin is super smooth – I highly recommend.

When the treatment was over, I was left to put on my robe and relax in the lounge with an assortment of teas and healthy snacks. Bliss!

I’m eyeing up another signiture treatment for next time I am in the country!

Chameleon Restaurant, Wellington

I have long been a fan of Chameleon Restaurant in Wellington, in fact, my Uncle took me here for lunch to celebrate my 16th birthday, oh so many years ago. Rather fitting then that I was joining the very same Uncle for breakfast all these years later.

Chameleon (along with the Intercontinental Hotel it sits inside) has recently undergone a massive facelift. The interior looks much more modern and has some awesome touches added, like the hand wall.

The menu was great, I had trouble deciding but ordered smoked salmon with truffle-scented scrambled eggs on toasted brioche. Yeah, truffle-scented, you read right! They were absolutely scrumptious. My soy chai latte was on point, so much so that I had two.

The service was great and they were happy to accomodate my Uncle with his request for a plain omelette with hashbrowns.

I’ll be back again on my next trip to Wellington.


Click to add a blog post for Chameleon - InterContinental Wellington on Zomato

A quick jaunt over the ditch 

I managed to find flights back home for the long weekend for only $305 return – I’d have been crazy not to go home! 

I love going back to NZ and even though I was only back a month before this trip, I hadn’t been back to my home since Christmas. That’s 6 months without cows – sorry about all the photos. 

I got in at midnight thurs/ fri morning and stayed at my brother, Daniel’s place in Welly. I walked to work with him in the morning & was lucky enough to get a glimpse of the Club Lounge at the Intercontinental in Wellington where he works in marketing. I met my Uncle at Chamelon Restaurant there for breakfast before jumping on a bus back to Palmy. 

Mum met me at the bus stop and I was straight home to see my Dad and then out to the paddock to see the calves.  That was pretty much all I did over the whole weekend – spend time with my family and the cows. 
Friday night I was lucky enough that my fave NZ band, Six60 was playing at my hometown. I went to the gig with my good friend Emma. The crowd managed to drink the bar dry by 8.30. Before the band even came on. Kiwi’s aye?! Not really – it was just piss poor planning by the organisers. Gig was awesome though. 

Sat my friend Kim arrived to stay with me for the rest of my time at home and my brothers, their GF’s and some mates came over for a BBQ. 

I FORGOT ABOUT THE OYSTERS. How dare I. I ate three dozen Bluff oysters. BEST oysters in the world and worth every penny. Yummmm.

The rest of the time we all just hung out. It was just what I wanted. 

Ha! Funny story. So… Kim & I left Mum in Palmy where we left for Wellington ready for my flight and Mum went home. By the time we got to Shannon Dad called. 

D: ‘Did you forget something?’ 

R: ‘Obviously I did but I have no idea what..’

D: ‘Your entire handbag AND PASSPORT is in your Mother’s car. 

R: ‘F#%k.’

So we had to turn around, drive back to palmy and wait for Mum to get back over from our place. Oops. 

Made it to Wellington in time for my (rescheduled) dinner where a fee of my lovely friends came out for a quick chat & Japanese. 

I was up at 2am Aus time to get to the airport and at work by 9.30am. That was a looong day. But definitely worth it. 

   
                                 

Mini Auckland break

The whole reason I initially booked flights back to NZ was to attend the Justin Timberlake concert with my brothers. I was lucky enough to extend my trip and fly home to the rest of my family as well as spend some time with friends along the way!

I spent the first time with Alescha, Laura & Mark and my God daughter, Cadence which was great as I don’t get to see them enough! I even went to Cadey’s swimming lesson where I was more than happy to stay and watch after seeing her gorgeous instructor. He was so sweet with the kids and his Tshirt was clinging in all the right places.

My brothers flew in and I’d tricked them saying that I’d booked a fancy hotel when I’d really booked the Skycity casino. They didn’t even believe me when I checked in and told them we had been upgraded!

Funniest part of the trip, hands down was Daniel attempting to eat chicken feet and gagging in the restaurant. Even the staff were having a giggle!

We had an amazing dessert at a Japanese restaurant and some umeshu wine to try shake off the horrible feeling Dan had from the chicken legs!

The next day we checked out Auckland Art gallery and their light exhibition. Was cool to see that they had some social interactions too. Worth a look if you’re in Auckland!

That night we stayed at the Pullman and walked to Vector Arena for JT. The DJ did a good job to hype the crowd up and everyone was amped. Of course, being NZ, I walked straight into a mate from home!

JT put on an awesome show. Dan, Luke and I danced and sang the whole time. He is an incredible performer and had amazing graphics and stage productions to go with it!

After the show the boys and I chilled back at the hotel and quickly realised the whole crew from the concert plus JT were staying at the same hotel! We spent ages watching crowds of them disappearing into the elevators with glasses and bottles of wine. Wish I got an invite!

Dan had a chat with one of the guys in the crew, he was saying they ha the next day off – hence the partying!

We flew back to welly the next day, some awesome memories made!

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Brisbane-based lifestyle and travel blog image featuring mountain and sea scenery

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