The popularity of Le Colonial, Rush Street's fanciest Vietnamese restaurant, proves that some things are worth dressing up for. While Seven jeans are as fancy as the dress code gets at many surrounding establishments, even seven year olds don't show up to Le Colonial without their glad rags. There's no denying that this place screams fancy, though not in the nondescript, bleached tablecloth kind of way. It's hard to describe Le Colonial's decor without throwing in the word sultry: the ambiance is, after all, designed to evoke the romance of 1920s Saigon. The main dining room boasts rattan chairs, oriental rugs, banana trees and a detailed copper ceiling laden with slowly whirring fans. Upstairs, a candle-lit bar and lounge hide behind potted palm leaves and an outside terrace extends just beyond.
If you can pull your eyes from the decor to the menu, expect to find Vietnamese cuisine with French heart. The pho, an oxtail soup with rice noodles, beef tenderloin and aromatic herbs, is a popular starter, as is the spicy beef and lemongrass salad. First courses include the chao tom (grilled shrimp wrapped around sugar cane with angel hair noodles and a mint and peanut sauce) and Vietnamese spring rolls filled with shrimp, pork and mushrooms. Entrees run the gamut from roasted chicken with lemongrass and lime dipping sauce to grilled filet mignon served with sauteed shrimp and tomato rice pilaf. Saying bon appetite over a meal from Le Colonial will cost ya, so consider a visit here a once-in-a-while occasion. The good news is you can wait a while to bring your fancy garb to the dry cleaners: You won't be needing it again anytime soon.
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg