French cooking, from A to Z at Z Cuisine A Cote

Categories: Sheehan (RIP)

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A Cote has all the quirky, dream-of-Paris charms of Z, and when it opened this past January, it quickly became a destination in its own right. Now the two restaurants fill in tandem -- generally within an hour of opening – and stay that way. For hours. In the meantime, the sidewalk in front of becomes the waiting room for both -- a fantastic summer lobby with a roof full of stars and the red stone spires of the church at the end of the block for backdrop – while would-be customers keep migrating from one door to the other, smudging windows with their nose prints, waiting for a fracture to appear in the solidity of the floor, a sense that soon, maybe, things will start to break up.

Is this a lot of trouble to go through for some foie gras? Hell, yes. It is annoying, almost maddening, crushingly exasperating when you know exactly what you want and know you can’t get it rightthisveryfuckingminute. It’s even worse when, after going all elbows and shoulders to get through the press at A Cote’s door on a Saturday night and pushing into the scrum at the bar, I learn that the place is completely booked out by a wedding party. I’d been wondering why everyone was dressed in Hawaiian shirts and wearing leis around their necks. Thought I’d missed a memo or something.

Getting into Z Cuisine A Cote, which I review in this week’s Café section, is not easy – and no easier than it ever has been to snag a table at the original Z Cuisine ten steps away. But once you do find a seat? This is one of those very rare restaurants that feeds not just your hunger, but your spirit. At least, that’s how it is for me and everyone like me who feels the need to regularly abase ourselves before the altar of the Proper Frog in order to absolve ourselves of weeks and months of crappy salads, terrible cheeseburgers and mussels done every which way but right.

Also on tap this week, a revisit to another bastion of Colorado French cuisine: Le Central. I go here a lot, ducking in and out like it was a Mickey D’s, having a little escargot, a little French lentil soup, a bit of steak béarnaise the way some other people do McNuggets. And I never get tired of it.

Finally, in Bite Me, I offer an open letter to everyone descending on our fair burg for the Democratic National Convention -- a sort of mini-survival guide for the loopy and the lost, for those trying to navigate our unfamiliar streets and find a decent meal along the way. Come to think of it, it’s not a bad refresher for you locals, either. -- Jason Sheehan

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