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Queenstown’s Parisian Inspired Bistro

Sofitel Queenstown is bringing a little bit of France to the resort with its traditional French cuisine and authentic experience offered at the Left Bank Bistro. Executive chef, Joerg Penneke and Sofitel general manager Jeremy Samuels, have combined to ensure that the bistro offers a genuine French experience enhanced by exceptional local produce and wine.

“We aim to bring a touch of French elegance to everything we do at the hotel because we are a French brand,” says Jeremy. “Everything has a French story behind it, but we try to bridge the gap between our French background and the local culture.”

The intimate bistro, on the ground floor of the central Queenstown hotel, opens out onto the resort’s bustling centre. Designed by Stewart Harris of Macintosh Harris, the venue evokes 1960s France complete with vintage posters and antique shutters.

Inspired by the Parisian bistros in the Latin Quarter, frequented by artists, writers and poets, the Left Bank café has a special ambience for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

In the mornings fresh baked pastries and themed breakfasts are on the menu and planning is underway for sidewalk tables where guests can enjoy a traditional croque monsieur and a coffee or glass of wine and watch the world go by.

The bistro menu includes classics like escargot, onion soup and chateau briand while the crepe suzette is served flaming at the table. A stand out favourite is the classic bistro dish, La Raclette. The cheese is melted and served at the table with accompaniments including potatoes, cured meats, cornichons and pickled vegetables.

Each wheel of Raclette weighs close to four kilograms and during winter it is not unusual for the bistro to go through four to five wheels a week, according to Joerge.

Many ingredients and wines are imported from France to reinforce the bistro’s authenticity, blending the best of New Zealand and France in an appealing and innovative menu, while the resident sommelier at Sofitel’s 1789 Wine and Jazz lounge has helped create an exceptional wine list matching wines to the bistro menu.

Joerg was born and raised in Germany. A passionate cook from a young age, he was classically trained in Europe and has lived and worked around the world and is now settled in Queenstown with his family.

His favourite dish on the Left Bank menu is the Chateau Briand – a classic French beef dish to share between two, sliced at the table and served with accompaniments.