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Review: Le Colonial

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jul 15, 2008 2:27PM

Le%20Colonial.jpgWe’ve been a big fan of Le Colonial for a long time, and after visiting the posh French/Vietnamese restaurant a couple of weeks ago we remembered why. That particular part of River North, replete with restaurants of all shapes and sizes, doesn’t usually impress us with the quality of its offerings – but a few excellent dining options can be found if you look hard. The Chicago outpost of Le Colonial is in the midst of the Oak Street shopping district, but don’t let that fool you – the food isn’t just for viewing.

Le Colonial’s menu is a fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisines, delicate yet spicy. Our favorite item on the menu is also one of the cheapest, Ga Nuong Xa, Roast Chicken with lemongrass and chili-lime dipping sauce. Priced at $20, this is the juiciest piece of roasted bird we’ve had during our time in Chicago. In fact, on one visit — in the interest of tasting multiple items while keeping the chicken for ourselves — we recommended a friend get the ginger-marinated roast duck instead. When both items arrived, we were accused of a massive cover-up, though the duck was quite impressive. Since then, we just tell our dates about it up front.

Despite our obsession, the chicken isn’t the only excellent dish on Le Colonial’s menu. Their side dishes are served a la carte. On our most recent visit we tried their shrimp fried rice. It will ruin bad Chinese food for you forever, as it’s hands-down the best fried rice we’ve ever had. The tuna tartare (served with cilantro and cucumber and tossed in a ginger-soy dressing) and the grilled shrimp wrapped around sugar cane skewers make excellent starters. The only disappointment is dessert – have an extra appetizer instead.

Le Colonial is located at 937 N Rush Street. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended every night of the week. We’ve been turned away as a walk-in on a weekday night. Valet parking is available for lunch and dinner.