La Folie restaurant reopening with Chinese menu, new chef

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A downtown Lexington restaurant that has been all about French cuisine for the last couple of years is making a major menu switch.

La Folie, which opened in 2022, has been closed twice in the last year for water leaks that required extensive renovations.

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Now owner Carlo Vaccarezza said the restaurant is now getting a different kind of refit: When it reopens in mid-February, it will have an all-new menu, new name and new chef.

La Folie at 111 Woodland Ave. off of Main Street will be changing its concept, menu and name when it reopens in February.
La Folie at 111 Woodland Ave. off of Main Street will be changing its concept, menu and name when it reopens in February. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

The new restaurant will be called Shun Lee and feature authentic Chinese cuisine.

The menu is still being worked on but an early draft included a wide variety of potential options including dumplings, Peking duck for two, General Tso’s chicken, Moo Shu pork as well as mochi ice cream. The menu also will have several vegetarian options as well.

La Folie French restaurant off of Main Street will reopen in February as Shun Lee, an upscale Chinese restaurant, according to owner Carlo Vaccarrezza.
La Folie French restaurant off of Main Street will reopen in February as Shun Lee, an upscale Chinese restaurant, according to owner Carlo Vaccarrezza. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

Vaccarezza said he is teaming up with specialists in Chinese cooking, including experienced local restaurant operators. The new chef will be Chef Ke Zi Chen, who worked in New York’s shuttered 88 Palace, and is a master of various styles including Cantonese, Szechuan and Fuzhou cuisines, Vaccarezza said.

Chef Chen considers himself a hands-on chef, according to a statement. “This allows me to showcase my skill and experience through my creation displayed on the dishes I present to the customers,” he said.

La Folie will no longer be French when it reopens in February. It still will be upscale but will offer authentic Chinese cuisine.
La Folie will no longer be French when it reopens in February. It still will be upscale but will offer authentic Chinese cuisine. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

Vaccarezza said after two years of fine French dining, he wanted to try going in a different direction.

“It seems to me that is a void in Lexington of a sit down, a little bit fancy Chinese restaurant,” Vaccarezza said in an email.

Vaccarezza said the new concept will be fine-dining but with a casual atmosphere. Carryout and delivery also will be available through third-party apps.

Shun Lee will be open for lunch and dinner daily, with a full bar and valet parking available.

Shun Lee

Where: 111 Woodland Ave.

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday lunch 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., dinner 4-9 p.m. Closed Monday.

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Janet Patton covers restaurants, bars, food and bourbon for the Herald-Leader. She is an award-winning business reporter who also has covered agriculture, gambling, horses and hemp.
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