By Daniel K. Lew
Hexagone, the French bistro in the heart of Banker's Hill of downtown San Diego, takes its name from the geometric hexagon and referencing the six-sided shape of France. Fittingly, Hexagone's owner, Parisian-born Patrick Halcewicz, attests to the many sides of classic and contemporary French cuisine offered in the elegant-and-inviting L-shaped dining room — also six-sided.
"This type of place could exist anywhere in France," Halcewicz said of the restaurant's intimate atmosphere. Cream-colored draperies accent big windows offering views of city life outside, while walls are filled with Art Nouveau posters from the early 20th century also give the place chic appeal.
Halcewicz describes the restaurant's daily offerings of about 20 appetizers and 20 entree choices as traditional Provençale French cuisine with Mediterranean and modern California influences. "We've got something for almost everyone's tastes," Halcewicz said. "And, our experienced, knowledgeable French waiters are very helpful."
Classical French appetizers remain the most popular, including French Onion Soup Gratinée, Frogs Legs Provencale, Escargots à la Bourguigonne, and Crispy Sweetbreads in a Wild Mushroom Ragoût.
Frogs Legs Provencale is especially fragrant upon its arrival at one's table: A tantalizing aroma from chopped herbs, shallots, olives, peppers, and garlic butter smother the tender morsels of frog meat.
Among the varied main course selections including beef, fish, chicken and lamb, Moscovy Breast of Duck with Leg Confit and Orange Sauce remains the best seller. The succulent duck is extra flavorful with its spice rub, along with the right amount of smokiness. The duck is first sauteed, then finished off in the oven while cooking in its own juices.
"We use the freshest ingredients and take pride in our consistency of quality," said Halcewicz, who added most of the seasonal vegetables used are organic and picked from local farms.
For dessert, Halcewicz recommends Crêpes Suzette cooked in a grand-marnier sauce, or his favorite — Apple Tarte Tatin, consisting of caramelized apples with calvados in a light puff pastry, served a la mode with French vanilla ice cream.
The other "sides" of Hexagone's offerings include a simpler lunch menu that includes sandwiches, Sunday Brunch, live jazz and blues on Tuesdays, wine nights, a full bar, and theater-goer specials. Since the restaurant is only a few blocks from Balboa Park, it offers complimentary roundtrip shuttles for diners to The Old Globe on nights when performances take place.
Before entering the restaurant business, Halcewicz managed both the historic La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla and Rancho Valencia Resort in Rancho Santa Fe. He said his years in the hospitality field transcend to his philosophy of high standards at his restaurants: French Market Grille in Rancho Bernardo, Hexagone, and Gourmet On 5th — which offers deli selections, take out and catering service across the street from Hexagone.
Free parking is available at an underground garage at the corner of Laurel Street and Fourth Avenue.
• Address: 495 Laurel St., San Diego
• Phone: (619) 236-0467
• Website: www.hexagonerestaurant.com
• The Vibe: European, contemporary, romantic
• Signature Dishes: Moscovy Breast of Duck with Leg Confit and Orange Sauce, Traditional Coq au Vin,
Beef Bourguignon and Vegetable Ragoût
• Open Since: 2008
• Reservations: Yes
• Patio Seating: No
• Take Out: Available at Gourmet On 5th, its sister deli across the street
• Happy Hour: 3:30-7 p.m. daily
• Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily Dinner: 4:30-10 p.m. daily
On The Menu Recipe
Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at lajollalight.com. Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story. This week: Hexagone's Moscovy Breast of Duck with Leg Confit and Orange Sauce.