"We had a great, great evening last night, and the best thing about it was that Z and A' Côté were both really busy," says Lynnde DePays of Z Cuisine's first night back in business. Lynnde and Patrick, her husband and the Z Cuisine chef, had closed their French bistro in Highland during the month of February to work on the kitchen, assemble a new crew on the line, and remove a handful of seats from the dining room to bring the space back to its original size.
The diminutive bistro, which has commanded waits since it opened in 2005, now has eight fewer seats than it did when Patrick and Lynnde temporarily shuttered it in February -- a deliberate move, says Patrick, to restore intimacy to the space and give both the front of the house staff and customers more breathing room, and guests, especially, the opportunity to linger over dinner without feeling rushed.
"We used to have a clusterfuck of a list, sometimes with more than twenty people waiting for a table, and it was terrible to think that people were waiting so long, so we pulled some tables and we plan to do only two turns and sixty people max," he says. And there's no more wait list.
Eating at Z Cuisine, explains Patrick, "should be about the ambiance and taking a break from life," and the monumental wait list, he insists, stressed out the kitchen crew, the staff and other diners, so they've done away with it completely, which means that if you walk in at 8 p.m., and there are no available tables, chances are, you won't be eating at Z that night. "We want people to be able to take their time eating, from appetizer to dessert," says Patrick. "In Paris, if you get into a bistro, you don't get out."
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Still, as both Patrick and Lyndee point out, A' Côté, their bar next door, trumpets a similar menu, and if you are lucky enough to saunter through the door at Z just as another table is leaving, it's a good bet that you'll get it. In other words, timing is everything.
The menu has remained largely untouched, although Patrick, who just hired Eric Lee, formerly of the Kitchen and Cafe Aion, in Boulder, to help him on the line, says that it will continue to evolve and focus on farm-to-table ethics. "This is simplistic, sharable bistro food, and we'll keep the classics, which we do very, very well, but there will also be changes to the menu every night," he notes, adding that the board will continue to focus on what Patrick, a serious forager and farm advocate, finds at the farmers' markets. "It's not about doing less, but about diversity, and both Eric and I share that philosophy," he says.
Z Cuisine is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 5:30 to close, or, says Patrick, until the kitchen runs of food. For more info, call 303-477-1111.