Named after the six-sided shape of France, Hexagone offers one of the largest French menus in San Diego with twenty appetizers and twenty entrees. Soft jazz croons its way lazily across a dimly lit L-shaped dining room adorned with crisp white linens, floor-to-ceiling windows, and rambunctious Art Nouveau prints. The Beef Bourguignon alone is reason enough to visit, as the rich wine-infused dish braises for a total of three days. This new addition to Banker’s Hill has been competing—and holding its own— against the likes of neighboring Laurel and Bertrand at Mister A’s, a sure indication of the quality of their California-inspired traditional French fare.Read More ...
Hexagone, whose name refers to the six-sided shape of France, is a relatively new corner establishment on 5th and Laurel. It offers over twenty appetizers and twenty entrees representing some part of the country’s twenty-two regions. This prized fact alone has had me eagerly awaiting this Wednesday evening reservation in Banker’s Hill.
While the sometimes stiff settings of certain upscale French restaurants often have a way of making an unaccustomed diner feel inferior, I experience none of these emotions as I pass by Hexagone’s smiling staff and crisply set tables. Upon entering Hexagone, I am welcomed into the marble-clad bar’s lively happy hour crowd by a warm and tailored French host, whom I soon discover to be the affable general manager, Benjamin. A few moments later, my party walks through the door and we are graciously whisked up a short landing and across the L-shaped dining room to our table overlooking El Prado Way and the entrance to Balboa Park.
Casual elegance can be found in every detail of the restaurant, from the beige-toned floral damask drapes to the soft jazz emanating from hidden speakers. The lighting sets an intimate mood as wall-mounted glass sconces and tabletop candlelit lamps flicker to life. While the atmosphere is subdued, framed prints of Toulouse-Lautrec’s illustrious “Jane Avril” and others of its genre hint at the culinary revelry that is to come.
We are warmly greeted by an exuberant server who briefly runs through the copious carte du jour full of updated French classics. The wine list is no less alluring, and boasts a lengthy selection of French and American wines to complement the seasonally inspired menu. Doubtlessly picking up on the overwhelming sensation that comes from having too many choices, our server astutely reassures us that there is no wrong choice with a menu at the hands of veteran Chef Fabrice Tissier.
Feeling bold, and upon the server’s recommendation, I giddily order the Escargots à la Bourguignonne to start, while my companions opt for the Frogs Legs Provençale and Crab Cake with Phillo Crust and Bell Pepper Sauce. Unsure of what to expect from my appetizer, I am momentarily taken aback when a plate hosting five Lilliputian-sized shot cups full of a vibrant green pesto-like concoction appears. The piercing scent of garlic and herbs wafts up to my nostrils, teasing my senses. Popping the blanketed morsel into my mouth with a tiny three-pronged fork, the escargot slips down my throat with the ease and grace of a seasoned Olympic diver. The sharpness of the garlic mingles seductively with the less dominant fresh parsley butter, assuring me that I will not survive my post-supper entertainment without at least a mint, or two.
Now cloaked in a heady sense of bravado, I confidently accept one of the three lightly breaded frog’s legs on my partner’s adjoining plate. I would highly recommend the tender amphibian to even the most cautious diner, with its pleasingly distracting presentation of fanning frogs’ legs, blanched cherry tomatoes, and delicately drizzled pistou. While I can see where the old “tastes like chicken” label is derived from, the metaphor does little justice to the complex morsel that all but melts in my mouth. The lightly sautéed breading enveloping the legs’ exterior camouflages the appearance of any bold flavors, so I am pleasantly surprised when a rush of garlic saltiness followed by a squeeze of vibrant lemon hits my mouth. The experience is revelatory, and I am left wondering how I could have clung to unfounded reservations for so long.
The Crab Cake arrives on a bed of olive oil encircled by bright green and orange sauces. Blanketed by a crisp golden layer of phyllo dough, I wonder if the fleshy interior will do the impressive exterior justice. The taste exceeds my expectations, for the crab cake barely has any filler and is stuffed with the freshest crab meat I have sampled in a long time. Generously dipping a small bite into the two sauces, my mouth is enveloped by the bright flavors of Moroccan spices, mint, cilantro, and roasted red bell peppers.
When it comes time to order an entrée, I elect to switch gears and order seafood, deciding on the Roasted Scallops with Grapefruit Sauce. When my artfully presented golden plateaus arrive seeping with a thin tangerine-colored sauce, I can feel my stomach smirking with the satisfaction of a well-made decision. In the center of the arrangement, a medley of tomatoes and summer squash alongside crispy fingerling potatoes rest under the protective guard of two deftly crossed pieces of asparagus. Although reluctant to destroy such a carefully crafted presentation, I cut through a plump scallop and dip it generously across the plate to absorb the sauce. As the bite hits my lips, I have trouble concealing my wonderment at the unexpected fusion of sweet and tart, and the underlying tang of the faint citrus essence.
Upon hearing the server mention that the French Bœuf Bourguignon is slow cooked for three days, it is impossible to resist trying a taste. It descends upon our table with a near tangible aroma so rich that it immediately halts the flow of conversation. The unassuming arrangement of jumbled beef, pearl onions, button mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, and julienned carrots is cloaked by a deep russet broth that confirms that even rustic dishes can be refined into haute cuisine. The tender beef and fruity, earthy notes of the sauce roll off the tongue in a marriage of flavors quite unlike any I have ever experienced. Every bite washes over me in a warm, soothing embrace, and in that instant I understand what the renewed excitement over such a time-honored style of cooking is all about.
My companion’s heaping portion of Duck a l’Orange rests carefully against a white bean and artichoke casserole and crisp fingerling potatoes. Bright orange kumquats mingle playfully amid thin slices of pale pink duck breast sitting in a delicate jus. The duck, particularly the leg, practically melts in my mouth alongside a piquant sauce of the bird’s own juices mingled with wine and the sharp citrus flavor of the oranges and kumquats. Nearly full, but unable to resist the sweet temptation of dessert, we order the Grand Marnier Soufflé with Crème Anglaise, the Chocolate Mousse Bombe, and the Apple Tarte Tatin. Served in a fluted porcelain ramekin, the Grand Marnier Soufflé arrives as an impregnated heap gently sprinkled with a snowy layer of powdered sugar. As I sink my spoon into the unsuspecting confection, it is unclear as to whether the pleasurable sigh that escapes is from the deflating dish, or from me. The Crème Anglaise, a smooth and refreshing cold custard with just a hint of vanilla, is a wonderful companion to the airy orange-spiced soufflé.
The Chocolate Mousse Bombe, a flawless chocolate sphere split down the middle, sits proudly in a white sauce sprinkled haphazardly with dollops of dark chocolate. Specks of gold leaf reflect the elegance of our meal thus far. The cool and refreshing taste of the superior chocolate is pure rapture, and the texture from the unexpected wafer crust on the bottom contrasts pleasantly with the velvetiness of the mousse. As the same crème Anglaise from the soufflé seeps out of the center to meet with the outer white and dark chocolate sauces, I know that I have reached culinary heaven.
The Tarte Tatin is no less pleasing, and brings with it the sweetly tantalizing perfume of caramelized sugar. Three glistening halved apples lay on a bed of golden-brown puff pastry with a fresh scoop of vanilla ice cream hovering proudly in the center of the formation. The sharp contrast of the bitingly cold ice cream with the soft caramel infused apples and flaky pastry are a welcome change to Tarte Tatin’s more traditional cousin, the apple pie. The flavors permeate every inch of my being, and it is a unanimous vote around the table that while the Soufflé and the Chocolate Mousse were excellent, this dessert quite literally “takes the cake”.
Basking in the warm after-supper glow of a well spent evening, my companions and I take a moment to appraise our surroundings before heading to the door. The previously quiet dining room now has servers enthusiastically flitting to and fro the kitchen balancing trays of colorful dishes to animated diners. The hum of conversation interlaced with the crooning voice of Ella Fitzgerald follows us out into the crisp April night, and as we part ways we make tentative plans to return to Hexagone sooner rather than later.
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This was our first time at the restaurant. It's a quaint liitle space downtown. The food and service were excellent. We will be back!
We have a few restaurants that we enjoy on special occasions. Hexagone has made that list! Wonderful presentations of classic French dishes with fresh variations to make it unique. Each of the four people in our party loved every course. Reasonable price considering the excellent quality. Will look forward to bringing special guests back and returning with just the two of us whenever we feel like a great French meal.
Grandmother and friend, two daughters, two granddaughters....the ambience was perfect, the manager and staff were delightful and sincere and the food was truly superb. A great dining experience.
This was our first time at Hexagon and we didn't know what to expect. We were having a pre theater dinner and were very pleasantly surprised. The ambiance was very European with very professional and friendly service and fantastically prepared meals. I cannot speak too highly of the Hexagon, it is one of the hidden treasures of San Diego.
A little bit of Paris in Banker's Hill. Great ambiance and the food is fabulous! Save room for dessert!
Best French restaurant in San Diego.
We had an excellent experience at Hexagone for our 25th anniversary. I had rack of lamb and my wife had a filet. The lamb was outstanding, tender, flavorful, not overpowered. We also had a reasonable but very good bottle of champagne. The waiter was friendly and helpful. The wine list was outstanding but also pricey.
Exceptional food, exceptional atmosphere and exceptional service for an exceptional, peaceful dining experience.
Comfortable yet upscale ambience, balanced menu offerings at a reasonable price, and near perfect service all combined to make our visit to Hexagone the highlight of our trip to San Diego. The complimentary parking in the garage next door makes driving to Hexagone a breeze.
We picked this restaurant off the internet. We were not disappointed. We lived in France for two years so know a bit about french cooking. The food was excellent, nicely presented and perfect size portions. Wine list was thorough and reasonably priced. Our waiter was very attentive without being intrusive. The decor is very contemporary bistro like. We would certainly recommend this restaurant and look forward to another visit.
We ordered the duck and split the meal. Expecting the miserly portions we usually receive at other fine dining restaruants, we were pleasantly surprised when they brought out full portions for each of us. Wine list was excellent as well. Overall a very pleasant experience.
Our experience was wonderful from the service to the food to the wine suggestion provided by our waiter. I love the decor from the white tablecloths to art on the walls. This is our third visit and we will definitely return.
WE HAD A GREAT TIME, GREAT FOOD AND SERVICE.
sophisticated atmosphere, excellent menu and wine selection!
My wife and I have eaten at plus hosted parties at the sister restaurant French Market Grille (FMG) in Rancho Bernardo for many years and have grown to appreciate owner Patrick H's gracious service, staff, and seasonal menus. Living in Temecula now, we seldom get into downtown SD, but on April 12 2011 we had a late morning doctor appt in the downtown area and decided to try a leisurely lunch at Hexagone. Terrific food, wine pairing, and service at a fair price. Similar to FMG in having a limited menu, it gives the chef time to perfect each meal. We will return.
The best French Onion Soup! Service was great!!
Elegant atmosphere, convenient location and affordable fine dining.
Good Food! Good Service! Good Experience!
A friend wanted to treat me to a special birthday dinner, and I picked Hexagone based on prior reviews, and the fact that its location was fairly close to my neighborhood. We were greeted by a friendly host and seated immediately. Our waiter was friendly, amusing, informative and attentive. The food was quite good, and the French Onion Soup was exceptional in my experience. My friend ordered the beef bourguignon and I ordered the Alaskan Halibut. The risotto that was originally supposed to be served with the halibut turned out not to be available, and the dish was served with an over-dressed, cooked frisee salad with asparagus. While my friend enjoyed his entree, I found the frisee to be inedible. Upon hearing that I found the frisee to be unsatisfactory, our waiter took back the plate and replaced the nasty frisee with some tender mixed vegetables with a beurre blanc sauce, which was a great accompaniment to the flaky, tender and succulent halibut. The creme brulee and the chocolate souflee were delicious. We both ate until we couldn't eat any more! The only thing that would have improved the experience was if the restaurant had served wild scallops instead of farmed, and if the cooked and over-dressed frisee had not been served. I would highly recommend Hexagone, whether you are celebrating a special event or just Tuesday. I definitely plan to return.