Slip into The City for Sunday Supper at Le Colonial
Oct 03, 2018 10:41AM
● By Fran Miller
BY FRAN ENDICOTT MILLER
Le Colonial's neon sign juts out over Taylor St. signaling that you’re in the right place. But the restaurant itself is hidden on tiny Cosmo Place – really just an alley, perhaps best known back in the day as the site of Trader Vic’s which closed in 1994. For 20 years now, the spot has belonged to Le Colonial, the city’s mecca for French-Vietnamese cuisine.
The restaurant’s nondescript exterior adds to the exotic feel of the interior. An airy, fern-filled, glass-enclosed atrium leads to the sultry, dimly lit dining room where wicker fans whirl overhead. It’s tropical. It’s French. It’s Vietnam in the 1920s. It’s not a stretch to claim that no other San Francisco restaurant so thoroughly replicates the vibe, the tenor, and the flavors of the faraway region that serves as its muse.
From the mosaic-like tile flooring, the vaulted pressed-tin ceiling, the shuttered windows, the plush rattan furniture, and the tropical plants, all accented by the glow of candlelight, the restaurant feels as though transported. In addition to the intimate main dining area, an upstairs bar and lounge provide a salon ambiance with faded oriental rugs, decorative bamboo birdcages, low wood tables, and comfy couches.
Chef Tuan Phan, a native of Ho Chi Min City, has for the last 17 years provided the culinary inspiration and focus for Le Colonial’s acclaimed menu. Vietnamese dishes with French colonial flair are complemented by first rate service – a combination that serves to maintain the restaurant’s ongoing popularity.
If you’ve never been to Le Colonial, or haven’t been in many years, consider a Sunday night trip into the city for their multi-course tiffin-format family dinners – perhaps one of the best high-end restaurant values in San Francisco. This traditional Southeast Asian dinner service is not only fun, it’s delicious. Served in a tiffin - a steel, stackable, food-separating series of containers and lids secured by a tension clip – choices include items such as lemongrass chicken, fresh spring rolls, vegetable curry, shrimp curry, crispy crab rolls, and fried rice. The wine list features more than 200 international selections, of which about 20 are available by the glass, and full cocktail menu showcases classic, contemporary and original libations.
Sunday tiffin dinners are served 5:30 to 10:00pm.
Le Colonial, 20 Cosmo Place between Sutter and Post and Jones and Taylor. Valet parking is available.