I worry when a proper French restaurant puts blackened redfish on the menu, but, nevertheless, La Colline still seems to be on the right track. The menu generally sticks to slight variations on traditional themes and the kitchen can be counted on for careful preparation, fine ingredients and attractive presentations. What's more, the prices are very reasonable for such high-quality food (the smoked salmon, for example, is stellar quality and a bargain).
La Colline has particular assets that would warrant success even if it weren't such a reliable kitchen: its Capitol Hill location brings good French cooking to where it is needed; the dining room's spaciousness allows you to talk comfortably; the lounge is a very good place to relax with a glass of wine, for the choice of wines by the glass is formidable; and service is professional.
The menu runs the usual French gamut -- veal scallops, filet mignon, fish fillets, a few poultry dishes, highly touted calves' liver -- plus some more unexpected, such as pork confit. You might even find fresh shrimp on the menu, which is rare except at the highest priced restaurants. Vegetables are fresh, nicely cooked and seasoned with flair. And if you aren't starting with the fine smoked salmon, you might try something more adventurous such as salmon mousse piped prettily onto a smoked trout fillet.
Then there is the dessert cart to tempt you visually with several kinds of chocolate cake variations, lemon meringue torte rather than pie, apple-meringue Tarte Normande, and the like. They are not quite as good as they look, but another example of how hard this restaurant tries to provide very good food at very good value. 400 N. Capitol St. NW. 737- 0400. L $5.95-$12.95, D $8.75- $14.95. L daily ex Sat, Sun, D daily. AE, CB, DC, MC, V. Res sugg. Full bar.