Le Colonial

Hiding in plain sight

Though it’s in the heart of downtown, it’s easy to miss.

It’s in an alley. The alley’s at the end of a lane. From the outside, the restaurant looks tiny. You may have walked by it a dozen times and never known it was there.

Surprise! Not only is Le Colonial a San Francisco icon, that tiny exterior is just the entrance. One flight (or elevator ride) up is a long, open-air promenade called the Patio. That leads to the main dining room. Another flight up is the darkened bar and the Lounge, and at the end of that, overlooking the street, is the small Veranda.

It’s all dimly lit, tropically rattanned, ceiling-fanned. Old Hanoi meets San Francisco romance.

Service is smartly informed; food is French-Vietnamese fine, prices aren’t life threatening but aren’t cheap. The appetizer tasting platter for two is $28, as is the coconut poached Alaskan halibut. The flavor-rich steamed seabass in banana leaves is $33; that and the wok-seared filet mignon cubes are the house specialties. Our faves: the tasting platter and two desserts‚Äî the rich chocolate cake with peanut butter ice cream and the orange & lime crepes cake.

http://www.lecolonialsf.com   (415) 931-3600.

20 Cosmo Place between Sutter and Post. Open nightly for dinner, Sunday through Wednesday from 5:30 to 10:00 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday, 5:30 to 11 p.m. On busy weekends, the Lounge stays open till 2 a.m. A DJ keeps things lively. Valet parking is available.


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