Chicago-Near North Side
May 11, 2018
This well-established Chicago branch of this upscale French-Vietnamese bar and restaurant has been designed to transport diners and drinkers to a bygone era, to colonial southeast Asia in the 1920s. It’s a handsome and atmospheric space, all tiled floors, ceiling fans, rattan furniture and antique panelling, simple yet evocative and elegant. There’s a dining room on the first floor and a chic lounge bar upstairs, filled with over-stuffed sofas, looming palms and Oriental rugs. It’s fantastically theatrical, a bit like being in a film set, a great place to linger with a drink and deeply romantic to boot. The cocktail menu isn’t hugely inventive but it’s well suited to its surroundings featuring subtly Asian inspired drinks, like frosty mango or ginger martinis. A classic Champagne Cocktail, laced with just a hint of ginger, tastes particularly crisp and refreshing in such lovely surroundings. The Vietnamese cuisine in the downstairs restaurant at le Colonial is delicious and authentic, the menu full of fresh, light and herb-flecked dishes, which are beautifully presented: plump summer rolls, heart bowls of pho, aromatic salads, French-inspired fish soup, and tasty sugar cane shrimp. There’s a decent wine list and service is gracious and smiling. Reservations are advisable if you plan to dine.