On the last night of 2010 -- New Year's Eve -- Charles MacDonald, the former chef de cuisine of Z Cuisine, the superb (and proper) French bistro in Highland pioneered by chef/owner Patrick DuPays and his wife, Lynnde, cooked his last dinner on the line. MacDonald had just accepted a position at Cook Street School of Fine Cooking, where he'd be joining Pete Ryan, another Z Cuisine alum, in the Cook Street culinary classroom. The parting was amicable -- MacDonald wanted to be home at night, says Lynnde -- but Patrick, who opened Z Cuisine in 2005, made the decision to close the bistro for the month of February to retool the kitchen, reevaluate the direction that Z was heading and hire a new chef de cuisine.
"Patrick wanted to take the opportunity to make a few changes during the transition between Charles leaving and bringing in a new chef de cuisine," says Lynnde, adding that they've tapped a chef de cuisine from an incredibly popular Boulder restaurant (we know who he is, but he has yet to put in his notice, so we're keeping mum) to join Patrick in the kitchen.
And Patrick, she says, intends to spend even more time on the line. "There are people who will say that Patrick isn't really the chef, because he doesn't do all the cooking, but he's the one who's planning menus, creating dishes and going to the farmers' markets. He's the chef, and he's cooking," insists Lynnde.
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When Z Cuisine reopens on March 2, it will have a half dozen fewer seats in the petite dining room, in order to bring the space back to the days when diners and servers alike weren't tripping over themselves in between tables -- "It's way too packed in there," admits Lynnde -- and while Z will continue to serve dinner Wednesday through Saturday, the hours will change to maximize the dining experience. "Our goal is to bring the intimacy back and get back to a simpler menu, and we'd like to do just two covers, so we're going to start opening a half later later, at 5:30, and we'll close at 9, or when we run out of food."
The DuPays have also purchased the vacant space in between the bistro and A' Côté Bar à Absinthe, the wine bar next door to Z Cuisine, but, as of yet, they haven't made any concrete decisions as to what to do with it, save for expanding the kitchen. "We're enlarging the kitchen, but still thinking about what to do with the rest of the extra space," says Lynnde.
In the meantime, A' Côté is very much open this month (and jamming), and the hours there, stresses Lynnde, will stay the same once Z Cuisine reopens, as will the terrific bar menu.