You all already know how much I love The Refectory, so when Slow Food Columbus announced that their next dinner would be there, I was the first person to buy tickets, as I’ve never been disappointed by anything I’ve been served in that establishment.
The dinner was held on the patio (who knew they had a patio? I didn’t until last night). The weather, although warm, was fairly comfortable due to the nice breeze. As we waited for the others, we perused the program and drooled in anticipation of the deliciousness that was yet to come.
All of the wines poured last night were from Ohio wineries, which was awesome. Ohio is very underrated when it comes to wine, and I wish more people would give the wineries from Ohio a chance. I found a couple tonight that I absolutely loved, like the 2007 Kinkead Ridge White Revelation that was served with the Hors d’oeuvre. They started by passing out several lovely appetizer bites, like this English cucumber/dill cream on toast.
My favorite Hors d’oeuvre was this bit of puff pastry topped with Montcharet cheese and a flavorful tomato. So elegant and delicious. I’m going to try to reproduce this one at home using only Ohio ingredients.
And they also passed out a classic gougere, a mouthful of cheesy choux pastry. I’ve worked with choux before, and have always wanted to explore the savory side of it. I think I’m going to try to make these at home also.
Our second course was an emu egg omelette. If you’re not familiar with an emu egg, it’s very large, and a blue-green color. Any egg dish prepared with an emu egg is very light in color and mild in taste, due to the small yolk vs. lots of white balance of the egg itself. While all by itself, it can be bland, the Refectory found a way to jazz it up considerably. With layers (from top to bottom) of chives, tomato, mushrooms, and smoked salmon, it struck a beautiful balance that I enjoyed immensely.
The next course incorporated one of my favorite ingredients – morel mushrooms! Here, they were layered with puff pastry and white asparagus in a nice feuilette that really hit the spot.
Our entree was flat iron steak with a green peppercorn sauce, which was served with a layered potato gratin, creamed spinach, and sauteed shiitake mushrooms. Did you know that the flat iron steak, which comes from the chuck, or shoulder area of a cow, is the second most tender cut of steak (with tenderloin being first, natch)? This was so tender that it could be cut with a butter knife. Bravo! I really, really liked every aspect of this dish.
Winding down, we were presented with a cheese plate, that featured cheeses from Ohio and Michigan – from left to right, a Cambozola Bleu Brie, Oakvale Farmstead Cheese Gouda, Lake Erie Creamery Blomma, more gouda, and finally another brie. These were served with a dressed microcress salad. I especially enjoyed the Cambozola, and will be seeking some of that out from my favorite cheesemonger at Curds & Whey later.
Finally, a lovely dessert of Ohio strawberries in two presentations – one simply with some puff pastry and chantilly cream, the other a teacup full of strawberry mousse that knocked my socks off. I love when restaurants incorporate local seasonal ingredients, and these strawberries are Ohio at their best.
All in all, my husband and I had a wonderful time (we expected no less of the Refectory, and the Slow Food Columbus dinners are never anything less than amazing), and we can’t wait until the next one. As for The Refectory, they’re having their First Friday dinner tonight (not too late to get reservations!) which feature a lot of similar dishes. If not that, I heartily recommend their Bistro Menu, served Monday to Thursday, which I consider the best dining deal in Columbus ($22 for three fabulous courses).