Who is Charlie Noble? Any sailor will tell you it’s actually the chimney in a ship’s kitchen – a nickname inspired by the former British captain, Charles Noble. However, for Queenscliff locals, it is a relaxed cafe on the Harbour dishing up fabulous fare.
While the name may be the same, the two kitchens couldn’t be more different. This century’s Charlie Noble is a casual waterfront venue offering delicious dishes in a simple yet stunning setting. It was actually the dreamy location of Queenscliff Harbour that convinced owners, Tarren and Jacqui, to make a sea change and move to the coast from their home in Melbourne.
The rich history of the area was another drawcard, something the pair has reflected in the venue’s design. The cray-pot lightshades that cover each fitting are a throwback to the harbour’s commercial fishing industry. Timber from the original harbour appears in the fixed tables, while huge glass doors allow the venue to transition seamlessly through the seasons.
Jack Mackie joins the team as Head Chef. Previous to Charlie Noble, he trained locally in Geelong under his father, Paul Mackie, before moving to Colac to hone his skills at Oddfellows Restaurant. From there, he headed to the sunnier shores of Byron Bay where he learnt all about Italian cuisine.
This training is reflected in Charlie Noble’s kitchen, where an Italian-leaning menu makes the most of as many local ingredients as possible, including Lonsdale tomatoes, local figs, garlic, berries and Bass Strait scallops. Buckleberry Farm also looks after all their free-range egg needs, with Jacqui insisting that local ‘true’ free-range eggs are essential to any kitchen.
You’ll know why she’s insistent when you try the eggs benedict, served with Berkshire ham, spinach and hollandaise on sourdough. The brioche French toast is equally as mouthwatering, combining lemon curd, berries, crème fraîche and walnut crumble for a breakfast you won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
Come lunch, you can choose between the smaller lemon myrtle and sea-salt fried calamari or the larger fried beetroot gnocchi with candied hazelnuts, caramelised cauliflower and sage cream sauce – or just go all out and try both!
Pizzas are made for sharing, and Charlie Nobel’s are no different. Start with the simple yet delicious garlic and herb pizza before devouring the wild mushroom with garlic, thyme, truffle oil and shaved grana padano.
Drinks are tailored to the time of day – pair your eggs benny with your preferred Elements coffee, a pot of tea, or a Charlie’s fruit juice. When the sun starts to cross over the marina, move onto the 18-plus beverage options, including a carefully crafted wine list. All drops hail from the Bellarine, meaning your entire meal will have a Victorian focus.
The British Charles Noble could have never guessed that more than 100 years later, he’d have a cafe named after him. But he’d be pretty chuffed with what’s on offer – who wouldn’t?