Le Colonial Lake Forest: upscale dining on Market Square

Le Colonial Lake Forest: upscale dining on Market Square
The Forest Avenue entrance. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

“We call it an escapist’s paradise,” explained co-owner Rick Wahlstedt

Le Colonial is opening its first suburban location, 26 miles north of Chicago, in Lake Forest on Thursday, July 7, 2022.

The Lake Forest location is the fourth location for the celebrated institution launched by nationally acclaimed hospitality veterans Rick Wahlstedt and Joe King.

When asked what to expect when visiting Le Colonial, Wahlstedt said, “We call it an escapist’s paradise. I am passionate about creating an experience where memories will be made for Lake Foresters and visitors to the community.”

A downtown Chicago mainstay for 25 years, Le Colonial has drawn celebrities, American critics, and tastemakers since its beginning in New York City nearly three decades ago.

The Space

Architectural rendering Entrance and Front-Patio-Le-Colonial-Lake-Forest. Courtesy of Knauer Inc

Lake Forest Le Colonial will make its home at 655 Forest Avenue in an historic two-story structure originally built in 1901 to serve as the community’s fire and police station.

The free-standing building will include over 12,500 square feet of dining and event space, including large outdoor gardens for alfresco dining and lounging.

The art filled space has been totally reconfigured by the Illinois-based architecture and interior design firm Knauer Inc. (spearheaded by LakeForest resident Mark Knauer).

One of the most dramatic changes is the raising of the main dining room’s ceiling by six feet to create a soaring, airy venue, grounded by newly installed French hand-painted tile floors.

A signature glass and wrought iron canopy welcomes guests into a light-filled entryway, leading to the main, white-table-clothed dining room with a capacity of 110 featuring black French doors that open to a 2,300 square foot garden patio.

A tropical vibe is achieved with lush palm trees and a mix of rattan chairs, leather banquettes and rich wood accents.

Architectural rendering Le Colonial-Lake-Forest Bar. Courtesy of Knauer

Off the dining room is the bar lounge featuring seating for up to 45. Low slung tables, armchairs and cushioned sofa surround a cozy fireplace while small dining tables overlook an outdoor patio. Nearby is the intimate Lotus Room that can accommodate 12 seated and features a floor-to-ceiling hand-painted mural of Vietnam’s national flower, the lotus.

Outdoors

One of the outdoor patios. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Lush landscaped surround the historic structure. The main outdoor space has two large tonnelles to allow for covered dining and soft seating all centered around a stone fountain.

An outdoor bar, The Parrot Bar and lounge area, completes the al fresco space.

The Menu

Perhaps most important since this is, after all, a restaurant is the menu

Cookbook author Nicole Routhier and Culinary Director Hassan Obaye collaborated on the classic contemporary menu that features an emphasis on local ingredients reflecting the spicy flavors of French Vietnamese cuisine.

Watch for Show Me Chicago’s comprehensive review coming later this month.

Location and hours

Where: Le Colonial Lake Forest is located at 655 Forest Avenue.

Hours: Dinner hours are Sunday-Wednesday 4-10 p.m., and Thursday-Saturday 4-11 p.m.

Reservations: For reservations, call 847-474-1500, or visit OpenTable.

Lunch service to be introduced later in July.

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