iming to raise the bar: From left, Toast & Oak co-owners Giulio Barducci, Jeremy Weinberg, Romain Cunat and Hayden Davison

Restaurants come and often go in Queenstown, but Toast & Oak, which opened yesterday, appears to have the ingredients to succeed.

Housed in upstairs Shotover St premises most recently occupied by The Spice Room, it’s a European-style wine bar/restaurant which its owner-operators, steeped in the local hospo industry, call ‘‘a passion project’’.

Those owners are a reflection of Queenstown’s cosmopolitan vibe — chef/wine director Giulio Barducci, latterly GM of Arrowtown’s Aosta, is Italian, there’s Frenchman Romain Cunat and Aussie-born Kiwi-raised Hayden Davison, who own Queenstown’s The Locker Room sports bar but have also worked in local fine dining venues, American local Jeremy Weinberg and Perth-based Kiwi Chad Cleaver.

Seating about 80 in various configurations, including a private dining room, Toast & Oak’s been lavishly fitted out by award-winning Queenstown-based AJ Saville Builder to a design by local-raised Nina Champion from Auckland-based Studio Muse.

Barducci explains Toast & Oak references the oak barrels used to mature wine and toast refers to toasting the inside of those barrels, a toast, as in ‘cheers’, “and there are going to be items on the menu on toast”.

They’re stocking almost 300 wines in their cellar — classics from around the world including Central Otago — with 60 available by the glass.

Half glasses, or Coravins, are also available.

By contrast, the menu’s somewhat pared down but will change regularly — however there’s also a degustation menu.

Fifteen staff have been employed, many who’ve moved from other restaurants.

Till about July 1, Toast & Oak’s opening Thursday till Monday.

The lunch menu runs from noon till 2.30pm and then there’s a snack menu until dinner is served from 5pm to 9.30pm.

Asked if it isn’t a tough time to open, Cunat agrees, but says ‘‘when Queenstown goes well, it goes very well’’.

‘‘There’s never the right moment — we opened The Locker Room between two Covid lockdowns — but we believe in what we do, and we know we’re going to bring an amazing experience for people, locals and not locals.’’

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