Walk with Catherine Deneuve out of the “Indochine” Academy Award-winning movie set, into the new 285 Colonial Kitchen, one of two well reviewed entries into the Atlanta dining scene.
285 Colonial Kitchen is reminiscent of the turn of the 20th century French influence in Vietnam – primarily in Saigon – where diplomats roamed until 1954, when French rule ended. This was a time of elegance, with noodle soups, pho, eggrolls, appetizers, and seafood fusion that has been referred to as “heaven on a plate.”
Experienced chef-owner Duc Tran, who also owns 575 Bistro in Kennesaw, chose the spot next to the Target in The Prado, for the 2,000-square-foot restaurant alongside a 600-square-foot patio, thus the “285” moniker describing the stone’s throw distance inside Interstate 285 off Roswell Road.
The other new French Vietnamese restaurant, Le Colonial, is a little down the road in The Shops at Buckhead. The two are not related.
285 Colonial Kitchen is divided into two distinct dining rooms designed by Kacey Nguyen in cool sapphire, aqua blues and metallics, with a touch of glam for lighting. It’s somewhere between chic and comfortable. Tables are fairly close together, and the two times we dined, there was no shortage of Jewish patrons.
For a Sunday night, it was unusually busy, with a bit of a wait at 7 p.m.
What we enjoyed most:
Indochine Salad – Spinach, Vietnamese pickles, carrots, Hue pearl onions, sweet basil sauce
Basil Fusion Salad – Romaine, Vietnamese pickles, carrots, Vietnamese honey chili sauce
Both salads were $6 and large enough to split. The latter was most memorable, light, sweet and tangy.
Under “Dynamic French Fusion Entrees” there were 11 choices with the ability to sub proteins.
Braised ginger sea bass ($25) – Cool cucumber slices, Hue pearl onions, quail eggs, broccoli and steamed rice. The small eggs were a bit rubbery, but easy to separate. Everything else totally worked. The broccoli was crunchy, and the sea bass was served in large cubes lightly coated in some crunch before the braise. Traditional braising involves sautéing then slowly simmering in very little liquid or using both dry and wet heat.
Sapa Curry – Atlantic salmon with mixed squash, onions, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and steamed white rice. ($20). The price varies depending on what protein is selected, for example, tofu ($13) or Atlantic Salmon ($20). The curry was creamy without being overly sweet.
Nice sized portion with leftovers.
“Sapa” refers to the Lao Cai Province in Vietnam.
Although we did not sample, the desserts were well thought out: guava cheesecake, cheesecake crème brulee, homemade yogurt and carrot cake from $4.50 to $6.
A large pho is priced at $1.50 until you add the protein ranging from $9 to $12.50. Brisket and/or filet mignon are among the options.
The food was served hot, but unevenly because of an unusual kitchen back-up issue. Entrees came out at different times.
Brown rice is not an option, reminiscent of my trip to Asia. When I requested brown rice, they laughed at my naïve Americanism. “Here, the prisoners eat brown rice, and white rice is more highly sought after.”
To try next visit:
Pad Viet noodles and “Garden” Stephanie spring rolls with Fuji apples, peanut sauce and scallions.
This type of cuisine is known for being low-fat, mostly gluten-free, vitamin rich, and artistically plated. Some say it’s best for soaking up a hangover. The lunch includes hero Banh Mi sandwiches for about $12 in addition to curries, rice vermicelli, salads, and more pho.
The restaurant is located at 5610 Roswell Road. It is open every day with daily lunch and weekend brunch. There is easy, free parking out front. Note that Tran donates a portion of his profit to women and children’s charities in memory of the last queen of Vietnam, Nam Phuong Hoang Han.