The owners of the high-end Zachary Jacques French country restaurant in Placerville signed a lease this week to occupy the space formerly held by the Redbud Cafe in Cameron Park, said executive chef John Evans. The plan: to open a bistro by mid-May, to be called Zac Jack.
"It will be a gastro bistro, with the tagline, 'Everyday Gourmet Cuisine,'" said Evans, co-owner with wife Lynnette Evans of Zachary Jacques.
"The theme will be California cuisine," said Evans, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef. "All of my techniques are French, but the food (at Zac Jack) won't be French. It will be in an accessible, everyday style. We're going to be a very affordable restaurant, not high-end at all, but we will serve gourmet food."
How does Evans reconcile the terms "gourmet food" with "affordable"?
"It is kind of an oxymoron," he allowed. "'Gastro' stands for 'gastronomy,' which means gourmet food. Bistros are casual, designed to feed the local communities they occupy. That's the concept for Zac Jack. The only fine-dining restaurants that are going to make it (in this down economy) are the ones that start going to this format. You have to be affordable for fine dining at this point."
Evans is looking at the expansion as "a huge opportunity for us. Sure, the economy is horrible, but this is a time (for businesses) to reposition (themselves) for better locations and (more favorable) leases. As much as I'm excited (about the Zac Jack opening), I'm also terrified. If I wasn't scared, there would be something wrong with me."
Zac Jack will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. On the menu will be the likes of short ribs reduced in cabernet or Guinness beer, wood-roasted chicken, flatbreads, small plates and "structured salads."
For years, Zachary Jacques' signature dessert has been the rich, pastry cream-filled St. Honoré cake. "It's as big as a beehive," Evans said. A smaller version of that classic dessert will show up at Zac Jack in an individual-serving size.
"We'll have multiple flavors (such as) key lime, Bananas Foster, chocolate and vanilla, and pumpkin and eggnog during the holidays," Evans said. "When berries come in from Apple Hill, we'll have fresh raspberries, boysenberries (and the like)."
Zac Jack Bistro will be at 3275 Coach Lane, Cameron Park. Zachary Jacques restaurant is at 1821 Pleasant Valley Road, Placerville; (530) 626-8045, www.zacharyjacques.com.