Upon walking in The Refectory, one is immediately informally introduced to the history behind the upscale French Restaurant which is a converted church dating from the mid 1800’s. Old worn wood is vaulted into the raised ceilings. Colorful stain glass windows filter in the last sunlight flooding the restaurant interior with ethereal light. Original art featuring local artists occupy the brick walls. Gothic furniture topped with bleached white tablecloths is in place where pews once served a congregation. Instead of a devout minister, The Refectory has a fervent devotee of another sort, Chef Richard Blondin, who offers up a venerable French menu worthy of high praise.
The hostess was quick to greet each arriving guest and check their coats. Even without reservations, the wait was brief enough to hear a bit of the history about the building before quickly being seated in the school house, one of three distinct dining areas. Having never dined at The Refectory before, the waiter recommended the prix fixe menu, a five course dinner featuring an appetizer, soup, salad, entrée, and dessert.
Staring off the dinner, the marbled escargot is a layered appetizer with fresh shiitake mushroom and rich escargot served over a drizzle of garlic parsley butter. Following the appetizer was a bowl of lobster bisque with savory bits of lobster infused in creamy tomato bisque topped with fresh basil. The artichoke and tomato heirloom tomato salad followed next and featured a reduced lavender vinaigrette drizzled atop marinated artichoke heart and plump garden tomato stuffed with fresh mozzarella. The entrée, a sharing portion of roasted beef shoulder tenderloin and spiced marinated duck magret cooked medium rare with baked garlic potato gnocchi with a ginger sesame sauce that adds a perfect amount of zing. Dessert served as the highlight, both in an epicurean sense, and an entertaining one, as a New Orleans chef with a jovial personality cooked bananas foster before our table. Mixing butter, brown sugar, and spiced rum over an open-flame, the chef shared the southern origins of the sweet creamy dish was well as a few personal anecdotes.
Service was impeccable throughout the evening. The service staff was cordial, but not overtly formal, lending the antiquated building a warm and friendly atmosphere. The pacing between courses was just enough to enjoy each course yet eagerly anticipate the next course without becoming ravenous. The wait staff was very knowledgeable of the dinner menu and wine menu respectively and provided delicious recommendations.
The Refectory is located in northwest Columbus on Bethel road just west of Postelwaite. In addition to a robust menu, they offer nightly specials, an intimidating wine menu consisting of over 700 selections, and various prix fixe options on special nights with music accompaniment, a guest chef, or renowned sommelier.
The Refectory marvelously incorporates its reverent roots of religious fervor into another realm of worship in its divine food offerings. The food and staff is matched in kind by the unique and charming interior that invites anyone looking for an epicurean revival.
Gabriel Gilbert is an English major at OSU. He loves sailing and can navigate by the stars. He is originally from Sylvania, Ohio, and has traveled to over 20 different countries.