April 23 2009, 8:54 AM
I couldn't quite pinpoint what was different about Boulder's much-loved bistro The Kitchen when I stopped in for brunch last week. The usual multi-party line still wound its way out the door, and the creamy sausage strata and butter brioche with poached eggs and Long Farm pork still vied for number one on the brunch menu. And then the dinner menu caught my eye. More than 20 plates on the menu were in the $12 range. And when we finally sat down, the always bright restaurant felt more airy than usual. None of this jibed with the packed and pricy--if always outstanding--restaurant that I remembered. According to Kitchen spokeswoman Kate Lacroix, when the restaurant turned five a few weeks ago, it ditched all its gourmet-only accoutrements in favor of a community style. Where two-tops were once clustered in the front entryway, there are now seven-seaters for group gatherings. Small plates, like mozzarella bruschetta with anchovies and chorizo and potatoes, have replaced entrees so that diners can try more of the new American cooking The Kitchen has become known for. A no-reservations policy invites drop-ins. Breakfast is no more. And the restaurant is tapping the beer list of its more informal sister restaurant, The Kitchen [Upstairs], for its daily happy hour (3-6 p.m.). Really, the only meal that hasn't changed at the restaurant is brunch.