Haute French interiors and historic Southeast Asian flavors meld together in celebrity restaurateurs Rick Wahlstedt and Joe King’s latest dining venture, Le Colonial. Inside the 8,100-square-foot restaurant—designed by Chicago-based architect Mark Knauer—the sophisticated French-Indochina interiors unfold through a series of dining areas that include the main dining room, airy veranda, private event space and the bar and lounge, all of which encourage a “stay awhile” mantra through a mix of ambient music, tropical plants and rattan furniture. Freehanded murals of lotus flowers by Swedish artist Jonas Wickman grace the walls while black-and-white photos of 1920s Saigon allude to a bygone era.
And if the interiors aren’t enough to transport and delight, the cuisine certainly will. With their recently launched lunch menu, diners can expect a lighter sampling of menu favorites—including the green papaya salad with pickled carrots and toasted peanuts, or the roasted salmon with organic shiitake mushrooms and coconut lobster broth—each boasting the familiar flavors of Vietnamese cuisine. “What I love about Southeastern food is it strikes the perfect balance between sweetness, spiciness and acidity in every dish,” says executive chef Hassan Obaye.
Colorful concoctions featuring locally sourced vegetables match the eye-catching decor for an unexpected, yet satisfying, array of bold tastes and striking design—all embodying the rich culture that Le Colonial aims to share. “We wanted everything to be multilayered, but we didn’t want to create something unapproachable,” says Obaye. “In all aspects, Le Colonial is much more accessible to the average palette.”