Le Colonial 20 Cosmo Pl./off Taylor & Post, 2 blks. from Union Square. Hidden away on a back-alley site, this authentic French Vietnamese restaurant is a branch of an upscale national chain. Its small-scale exterior is a surprise set behind and amid bigger surrounding buildings.
|entrance to Le Colonial in San Francisco|
An enchanting tropical decor evokes 1920s Vietnam--vintage black-and-white photos of turn-of-the-19th-century Saigon adorn the walls, quiet ceiling fans gently stir the air--and, mixed with a high pressed-tin ceiling and a semi-outdoor verandah, the elegant interior dining room offers sweet sanctuary from street bustle. This divine, romantic spot is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.
|verandah at Le Colonial in San Francisco|
|entrance to dining room at Le Colonial in San Francisco|
|dining room at Le Colonial in San Francisco|
Exotic cocktails include a delicious fruit Mango Mojito made with rum and topped with a vibrant orchid, as well as the namesake Le Colonial made with vodka and passion-fruit puree.
|Mango Mojito at Le Colonial in San Francisco|
|complimentary appetizer at Le Colonial in San Francisco|
An extensive list of appetizers includes several kinds of spring rolls--I especially liked the Goi Cuon (fresh rolls with poached prawns, rice noodles, and a hoisin peanut sauce) and the Banh Hap So Diep Chien (crispy fried wontons stuffed generously with scallops and shrimp).
|appetizers at Le Colonial in San Francisco|
My dining partner and I stuck with seafood for our main courses. I had a house specialty, Ca Hap La Chuoi (a tasty seabass-sweet potato noodle-shitake mushroom combo, wrapped in a banana leaf basket and steamed to perfection),
|seabass at Le Colonial in San Francisco|
while he had Ca Hap Nuoc Cot Dua (delicious coconut-poached Alaskan halibut with a green papaya salad). More mains include roasted lemongrass chicken, grilled Asian-flavored steak, coconut milk-braised pork, and wok-seared sweet-savory tofu.
|halibut Le Colonial in San Francisco|
An absolutely-don’t-miss side is the Xu Bruxelles (spectacularly flavorful crispy-sweet Brussels sprouts with meaty portobello mushrooms and colorful carrot chips).
|Brussels sprouts at Le Colonial in San Francisco|
Desserts include light housemade gelatos and sorbets, plus fun-to-share Le Colonial Banana Roties--carmelized banana halves on cassava cake with chocolate-peanut butter ice cream and more.
|banana roties dessert at Le Colonial in San Francisco|
Upstairs, an inviting bar-lounge with a small, private balcony serves an hors d’oeuvres menu and sometimes schedules live music. This being hilly San Francisco, you can exit there onto Sutter Street.
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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers