After nearly a year of preparation and work, Cafe Colline opened its doors this June, in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amidst any and all challenges, this French Bistro has remained steadfast on its goal to bring French cuisine and elevated dining to the Lee Highway corridor.
LHA's Communications Manager spoke recently with prominent restauranteur Ian Hilton, one of Cafe Colline's owners, about all things French cuisine, COVID-19, opening a new business, and how the Lee Highway community can (safely) check out this new spot.
IH: Colline means "hilltop" in French. The location of the spot in Lee Heights made the choice of the name pretty easy. The layout of the space is (and was when the plan was Cassat's) typical of a bistro. Our strength is in French food concepts, so a French bistro was an easy choice.
MPH: What led you to open on Lee Highway?
IH: I live less than 1/2 mile away in the neighboring Donaldson Run neighborhood and had always wanted to open a restaurant that would cater to my friends and neighbors.
MPH: In that same vein, how do you home to impact the Lee Highway corridor with the opening of the restaurant?
IH: I want to give people an elevated dining experience in Arlington that doesn't require a trip to Clarendon - where parking can be tricky and you're sharing space with more of a party scene.
to offer on premise dinner dining to customers Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 5pm and brunch starting at 12pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We spent a great deal of time refinishing the beautiful bar and reimagining the space, and we're thrilled that the community can now experience that first hand.
MPH: Moving beyond COVID-19, what is your vision for the future of Cafe Colline?
IH: As restrictions are lifted and the public becomes more comfortable with dining on premise, we see Cafe Colline becoming a go to spot for the surrounding area. Having such a long ramp to a return to "normalcy" is helping us fine tune the product and our approach to causal, yet elevated service.
MPH: What is the best way that the community can support the business?
The prior is a hearty bucatini cooked al dente and tossed with a French pesto called pistol. The Loup del Mer is a sea bass presented with a delicious fennel puree and a rich caper-laced butter noisette. It's easily our top seller. Top it off with Chef Brendan's decadent Pot de Creme and you'll be a happy camper. You can also never go wrong with our rotating Plat du Jour.
MPH: That all sounds delicious - I'll have to check it out for myself! Thanks so much for chatting Ian, and wishing you all the best.
IH: Thanks so much Maia, and it was a pleasure.