Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Refectory

Like most everyone else, we didn't have a whole lot of money when we we're in college. Our idea of fine dining was going to the Champp's over at Olentangy Commons. Although Regina and I had driven past the Refectory a thousand times during our years down in Columbus, we'd never actually eaten at the place.

When we went down to Columbus (where we got married) to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, we figured this was the perfect time to give it a try. People always speak highly of the dining experience when eating at The Refectory.

As we pulled up to the parking lot I wondered to myself what the surrounding landscape must have looked like when this building was constructed. With a indoor racket club on one side, parking and access roads on two sides, and very deep road cut (to allow cars to go under the railroad), this building is literally levitating above suburban wasteland.

The outdoor patio

The first thing I noticed when we walked in the lobby was that it had a very dark interior (very Spanish Tavern-esque). Since it was a relatively warm and sunny day we opted for the patio. The busy street that sits on the other side of the patio fence is, thankfully, not that audible due to the fact that it's about 15-20 feet below you.

Refectory Crab Cake

For appetizer we decided on the Refectory Crab Cake with mild smoked red bell pepper veloute. What I liked the most about this appetizer is that they didn't skimp on the crab. Large chunks of crab were found throughout, and was not at all greasy or full of a lot of bread crumbs.

Bison Strip Steak with Country Butter

I ordered the Bison Strip Steak with french country butter. Normally I wouldn't order bison because it's a leaner cut of meat that generally ends up getting overcooked. What the meat lacked in fat was accounted for with the country butter. This dish was also served with a small portion of potato gratin, artichoke, carrots, and asparagus.

Lemon Rosemary Duck Breast

Regina had the Lemon Rosemary Duck Breast with sour cherry bordelaise. An abundance of perfectly prepared duck breast with a restrained cherry bordelaise that carefully straddles the line of being too subtle and overpowering.

Pecan Praline, Milk Chocolate Sauce, Mint Julip Ice Cream

with strawberry coulis
The chocolate tart was very good, but the frozen pistachio souffle absolutely stole the show. This creation from the semifreddo family is a playful interpretation of a souffle. Highly recommended. I thought this was a great way to end the dinner.

My overall opinion is that this is a great place to eat in the summer. The interior space is in need of an update. It takes me back to an era of dining that we haven't seen in some time. But is that really the reason why we go out to eat, though? To sit in a beautiful space and eat mediocre food? No, the world has plenty of those.

If you go, request the patio. During dinner it will most likely be completely shaded so take a sweater or jacket.

Thankfully, the food is as modern as the interior is not. Every aspect of our dinner was impeccably executed. I thought the portions were appropriate, the desserts were inventive, and the service was excellent. The patio solves the interior problem and the food is fantastic.

The Refectory
1092 Bethel Road
Worthington, OH 43220
(614) 451-9774

Refectory on Urbanspoon


  1. It's been a while since I ate at The Refectory, but from what I remember, it was a spectacular meal. Service was very professional but a bit overattentive at times. Was the atmosphere a little "looser" when you had your meal?

    The closest thing in Cleveland I can compare it to is eating at the Baricelli Inn 10 years ago vs. today. 10 years ago it was kind of quiet and stuffy. Now it is much of a relaxed service.

  2. Just by being on the patio it was much looser, which is probably why I liked it. I think the overattentive service may have grown out of the tastes of the clientele. This sounds terrible, but I think as these people die off this kind of service is going to die with them.

    If they wanted a blueprint on how to take a dated interior and make it appealing to a younger audience they would do well to look at the transformation of "That Place on Bellflower" into L'Albatros (in Cleveland). If you haven't been, you must go.

  3. Actually, I went to Case Western for school, so I am familiar with the old That Place and the new L'Albatros. You're right, it was quite the transformation.