Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Restaurant Review: Le Colonial

601 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561/566-1800

Le Colonial’s opening this past February was highly anticipated, and that’s an understatement. Its debut soiree attracted hundreds of glitterati, all eager to experience Le Colonial’s French-Vietnamese cuisine at the new Atlantic Crossing. The space immediately transports you back to Saigon’s tropical paradise of the 1920s. Lush birds of paradise and palms line the halls that lead into intimate dining nooks throughout the 7,000-square-foot restaurant, vibrant wallpaper and artwork adorn the walls, and cozy banquettes invite you in to stay a while. Le Colonial radiates classic elegance that’s as sophisticated as it is comfortable.

The brand opened its first location 30 years ago, and Delray’s outpost is its fifth, with several other cities in the pipeline, including Naples and Scottsdale. Created to showcase Vietnamese cuisine and its French influences (France ruled the country for decades), Le Colonial has a standout method of curating classic Vietnamese dishes that appeal to various palates.

Boc Luc Lac Shaking Beef, photo credit: Neil John Burger

Settling into our corner booth, we started with a lychee martini ($15) and the First of the Last gin cocktail ($15). For someone who adores lychee, especially when it’s drenched in vodka, this drink was disappointing. To start, it appeared that there was no actual lychee juice present. It’s made with a lychee liqueur that was then doused with lime juice. Too much lime and bitters overrode the gin’s soft juniper notes.

As the appetizers arrived, I was sanguine. The Bahn Uot ($16), or sesame beef ravioli, is a signature dish shaped as sizeable rice noodle pillows stuffed with grilled beef. I loved how the softness of the ravioli and beef played off the crunch of the cucumbers and lettuce that top it. The basil and the lime garlic sauce with hints of sweetness and spice tie the dish’s flavors up nicely for a satisfying opening to our meal. Our waitress quickly glossed over the soup section, and I’m here to tell you: Don’t sleep on the curry. I’m certainly glad we didn’t. We shared the Cari Ga ($29), or yellow chicken curry, and it was the star of the evening. Creamy, flavorful and well balanced, it delivers everything you want in a curry. Plus, the jasmine rice we ordered with it was perfectly cooked.

Crispy red snapper, photo credit: Neil John Burger

Our two entrées were the Ca Chim ($36), or halibut with “La Vong” scent, and Bo Luc Lac ($45), or shaking beef. The former, cured with galangal, a Southeast Asian root in the ginger family, is a beautiful saffron hue on the outside and snowy white, soft and flaky on the inside. It’s bright and citrusy with delicate spicy notes and topped with dill, mustard seed and red peppers. The beef has hints of sweetness, and again I enjoyed the balance of its tenderness with the crunchiness that came from the pickled onions and snow peas.

We ended with la noix de coco ($14), Le Colonial’s take on a traditional Vietnamese frozen banana dessert. It is a dainty chocolate cup filled with banana and coconut cream and topped with coconut flakes and toasted peanuts. It was a wonderful way to finish the meal in Delray’s new swanky, tropical oasis.

IF YOU GO

PARKING: Valet (on Northeast Seventh Avenue), parking garage (also on Northeast Seventh Avenue)
HOURS: Lunch Sat.-Sun, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Dinner Sun.-Wed., 5-10 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 5-11 p.m.
PRICES: $14-$95
WEBSITE: delraybeach.lecolonial.com

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Christie Galeano-DeMott
Christie Galeano-DeMott
Christie is a food lover, travel fanatic, bookworm, Francophile, and she believes art in all its forms is good for the soul. When she’s not writing about the incredible dishes, people and places that capture South Florida's culture and vibe, Christie is irresistibly happy in the company of her husband and a glass of red wine.

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