La Chatelaine is a local restaurant project with three locations in central Ohio: one in Dublin, one in Upper Arlington and one in Worthington. Inside their respective doors, they share a distinct and defining theme; guests can expect a rustic French look, with sturdy wooden furniture and a heavy, aromatic focus on baked goods and sweets that are beautifully displayed behind glass at the counters. Of all the places, the Worthington stop most resembles the epitome of French baking. The neighborhood itself accentuates its features, with an entrance patio that reinforces a busy sidewalk between Old Worthington’s pretty shops.
While many things change over time, La Châtelaine has maintained a selection focused on the classics it has been known for for three decades now; expect quiche, lovely pastries, and dynamite bread. Where French cuisine can be perceived as difficult, La Châtelaine deliberately cultivates a relaxed atmosphere with a mix of cafeteria-style service. Trends may change over the years, but the local appetite for French comfort food is remarkably stable.
If the time has come and a Croque-monsieur is available, it’s practically a moral imperative to order one. You don’t see the dish on local menus very often, so it’s a highlight at the bistro. What starts out as a simple ham and swiss sandwich takes it to the next level with a thick, substantial lid of caramelized bechamel sauce on top. It provides a crown of luxurious, creamy richness that elevates and defines an already solid combo built with good quality ham and flavorful cheese.
In a more ubiquitous territory, the Spinach Quiche is a feasible option. Textually, the filling is more compact than fluffy, but it still retains a silky texture that easily cuts into bite-size pieces bordered by its fairly substantial crust. The dish does its quiche job, but something more memorable can be found in a more in-house choice. Briquette. Perhaps not a classic French dish, it fits in perfectly with its puff pastry as a delivery tool for a rich medley of spinach and artichoke hearts tossed with Swiss. It’s reminiscent of a fancy artichoke dip, and that’s not a bad thing.
A handful of formal starters include spaghetti, beef bud and a lovely version of Vol au vent with chicken – a cousin of a pâté en croute with a return of puff pastry like homemade that contains a thick and comforting mixture based on moist cream of chicken and mushrooms.
And then there are the pastries. Indeed, fruit pies are pretty, but personal preferences lean towards the joys of simpler dishes. Muffin flavors can change with the seasons, it’s fall Banana muffin demonstrates features that unify the options: it’s heavy, with a sturdiness that sets it apart from lesser cupcake imitators.
During this time, the Palm is an architectural swirl of layers of pastry that fizzes with granulated sugar. It’s pretty in a subdued way, and a simple pleasure to savor.
La Châtelaine is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it offers a selection of classic bars with fine French wine to wash down the theme. The menu is largely stable across all three locations, you can find the Worthington stop at 627 High St.
For more information, visit lachatelainebakery.com.
All photos by Susan Post