AT­MOS­PHERE:

Central Otago Mirror - - FOOD FOR THOUGHT -

You would strug­gle to find a more tran­quil, ru­ral set­ting to dine so close to Alexan­dra’s town cen­tre. While the rus­tic coun­try sur­rounds have not al­tered with back­drops of Alexan­dra’s craggy hills and views of the ‘‘Shaky Bridge’’ which pro­vides ac­cess to the res­tau­rant, a lot of change has hap­pened. French mu­sic now plays to cus­tomers sit­ting at ta­bles spread around the ex­pan­sive out­door din­ing area. The cafe has also changed its name to Shaky Bridge French Bistro to re­flect the change of own­er­ship. A French cou­ple moved from Queen­stown to Alexan­dra in Novem­ber to take over the busi­ness and bring French din­ing to Cen­tral Otago.

mar­i­nated olives, olive tape­nade and aubergine caviar ($10) Br­uschetta ($12) and ‘‘Plateau de Char­cu­terie’’ - a deli se­lec­tion ($24). It took me a while to de­cide but the aubergine caviar won me over and I wasn’t dis­ap­pointed. The serv­ing size was gen­er­ous, and tasted de­li­cious.

For main I chose the Duck Leg Con­fit for $25. It was de­scribed as ‘‘clas­sic bistro fare’’ and was served with sauteed po­ta­toes and a bun­dle of green beans. Gen­er­ally, I don’t or­der duck, but the menu looked so good I de­cided to in­dulge. When the plate came out, the duck fell off the bone. It was juicy, full of flavour and de­liv­ered above ex­pec­ta­tions. The por­tion size was gen­er­ous, par­tic­u­larly for the price.

My friend or­dered a Piece du Boucher - Rib­eye Steak ‘‘Maitre d’ho­tel’’ ac­com­pa­nied with French fries, mesclun for $28 and an ex­tra $2 to add Ro­qufort Sauce. If that duck dish had not have been so good, I would have had food envy. My friend said the steak was cooked to per­fec­tion...’’ex­actly as re­quested’’ and came with a good pro­por­tion of sides.

As well as a di­verse menu, I also liked the added touch of the spe­cials’ black­board. The spe­cials in­cluded a salmon ‘‘me­u­niere’’ with mashed po­ta­toes and chives ($24); Br­uschetta paysanne with

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