It’s been a mammoth job, but the team behind Queenstown’s newest hospo venue is fizzing to finally open the doors.
Soda, an upstairs venue on Rees St, formerly occupied by Prime, has been about 18 months in the planning for Republic Hospitality and Arrowtown hospitality legends Penelope ‘PJ’ Johnson and Sam Gruar, of People Like Us — the first guests will be welcomed from 4pm tomorrow.
Republic boss Blair Impey says they’ve tried to capture an ‘‘authentic Mediterranean feeling’’, both through the decor and design, courtesy of Auckland-based Ctrl Space.
A fresh menu includes some of Arrowtown’s La Rumbla favourites, with a host of new dishes, dreamed up by Gruar and Republic group executive chef Thomas Barta, who was Good Group’s executive chef for five years and has Michelin-star experience.
The offerings include Mediterranean antipasti — ‘‘think fresh’’ — which includes seafood, mozzarella, olives and meats, small plates, like La Rumbla’s famous ceviche, octopus and wagu.
There are also ‘‘stepped up’’ larger plates such as a Savannah ribeye and ‘‘our best Mediterranean take on a lamb oyster shoulder, all done on the wood-fired solid-fuel grill’’ — visible from the restaurant — served with romesco sauce, seafood paella, and blue cod.
More than 100 wines are on offer, curated by Johnson, along with a large cocktail list and gin and tonic offering, led by local producer Scapegrace, while half the beers are locally crafted, led by ‘‘the global leader of Mediterranean beer’’, Peroni.
An Alpine Construction team, headed by Sam Shefford, has been ‘‘absolutely brilliant’’ and completely revamped the 400 square metre dining area, including a massive circular bar, and an extensive balcony overlooking the newly-refurbed Rees St, while there’s also a courtyard dining area — with its own menu — at ground level, overlooking the lake and extending almost to the William Rees statue on Marine Pde.
Impey says they’ve hired about 40 staff for the new venue, with total capacity for about 150 diners.
‘‘I’m really excited [to open],’’ he says.
‘‘There’s been a lot of hard work — it’s been fun pulling it all together, but we’re ready.
‘‘Once you’ve experienced it, you’ll know what Soda means.’’
While they’ll have restricted capacity this weekend, it’ll be all go from Tuesday — they’re initially opening for dinners, before moving to seven days for lunch and dinner — to book, visit sodaqt.com