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Weekday Lunches at Le Colonial and Atwood

While I am not a lady who lunches (whatever that is), I am a lady who occasionally sneaks out of the office for a lunch at a restaurant. I usually eat lunch at my desk, so it is special when I get to dine at a restaurant. Recently my co-worker and I left the office twice to dine at Le Colonial and Atwood, two very different restaurants that both serve up lunch during the week.


Our first lunch was at Le Colonial in the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast on a weekday is an interesting experience. It’s outside of the business focused parts of the city, and instead it’s filled with high end retailers and impeccably dressed people having leisurely lunches. Le Colonial is a French-Vietnamese fusion restaurant right in the heart of the Gold Coast, just steps away from Barney’s and Hermes. The small facade is unassuming, but once you walk past the small area of sidewalk seating and into the restaurant, a charming white tablecloth restaurant is revealed.

My friend and I chose to sit outside to soak in the warm weather on one of the few sunny days Chicago has given us this season. We jumped right into lunch ordering a pair of entrees. The menu offers a mix of salads, noodle dishes, and larger entrees served with rice.


I had the Bun Thit Nuong, barbecued pork belly served with thin noodles over mesclun greens, with a lime garlic sauce, green onion, bean sprouts, and peanuts. The portion was generous, but I managed to finish most of it. I loved the thin noodles and the seasoned pork belly, and the bean sprouts and peanuts added a satisfying hint of crunchy texture. Although it was so much food, it wasn’t heavy. The flavors were light and delicately balanced with hints of mint and citrus. It was the type of meal that I couldn’t stop eating.


Anna chose the Go Xao Cari a yellow curry chicken dish with Japanese eggplant, mangos, yams, string beans, and cashews with white rice. It had a nice amount of heat – a bit more heat than most restaurants aim for, but the spice was balanced out by chunks of fresh sweet mango.


Escaping the office for lunch is one thing, but ordering dessert at lunchtime is really something luxurious. We shared the Vietnamese Flourless Chocolate Cake, a dense silky chocolate cake with creme anglaise and raspberry sauce. In order to prevent the onset of a food coma, I also ordered the Vietnamese coffee. The coffee is poured over a thick layer of sweetened condensed milk, resulting in a rich creamy coffee that is sweet instead of bitter. It paired wonderfully with the chocolate cake.

The next week we lunched at Atwood, a restaurant at the Burnham Hotel in the loop, just across from Macy’s on State Street. Atwood recently renovated its space, a creating more open airy feel with a modern-meets-French bistro vibe. It’s elegant, welcoming, and devoid of any of that dreaded “hotel restaurant” atmosphere.

The menu at Atwood is modern American, including a mix of salads, sandwiches, and entrees. I was just about to order the burger, when the Chop Salad was delivered to a nearby table and the sight of it caused me to instantly change my mind.


I am only going to order salad at a restaurant if it seems like something special – and including cheese and bacon doesn’t hurt either. This salad had chopped chicken, bacon, roasted tomatoes, dried corn, pearl couscous, greens, and Parmesan with a pesto ranch dressing. The flavors were Southwest meets Italian. It was both creative and perfect executed.


Anna raved about her Shrimp Poboy, that had a massive amount of fried shrimp. It is a Southern inspired dish, that isn’t typically found in Chicago, which makes it a fun treat.

To summarize, we have two wonderful – yet completely different – lunches. Le Colonial is a great place for lunch when you have the day off (since it probably isn’t by your office), while Atwood is a nice place for a business lunch. Both also serve dinner, and they take reservations.

Atwood’s address is 1 West Washington Street, and Le Colonial’s address is 937 North Rush Street.

Erin's Inside Job

Thursday 18th of June 2015


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