Rectory owner Kamal Boulos

Refectory owner Kamal Boulos

When you talk about culinary traditions and fine dining in Columbus, there is one place that comes to my mind as the epitome of both. The Refectory is the most award-winning restaurant in Columbus and has received Zagat, DiRoNa and Wine Spectator Awards. As if that weren’t enough, The Refectory has also received the prestigious Four Diamond Award from AAA for 15 years in a row.

The menu developed by Chef Richard Blondin, a native of Lyon, France, offers contemporary American cuisine and classic French cuisine. Its also complemented by arguably the largest wine cellar in Columbus, which includes over 700 selections. My wife and I went for dinner with high expectations and we were not disappointed.

The dining room menu features a good mix of seafood and shellfish, meat and poultry and even several fantastic vegetarian options. For those of you fin lovers, the salmon duet hors d’oeuvre is fantastic mix of cold and hot smoked salmon and it's plated beautifully. My favorite, though, has to be the alpaca terrine with pistachio, olives and cranberry pumpkin vinaigrette. So good, I almost ordered two of them.

For dinner, my wife and I shared a half-bottle of Muga Reserva, a blended red Spanish wine. I had the Cajun marinated duck breast with chestnut confit and plum bordelaise, and my wife had the filet mignon which was finished with cardamom sauce. In my opinion, the duck was cooked to perfection (medium) and the Cajun marinade gave just a hint of spice to the bird without overtaking it. I must say this was some of the best duck I’ve ever enjoyed.

That brings us to dessert. Refectory owner Kamal Boulos insisted that Chef Blondin makes the best crème brulee in town, so I had to take up his recommendation. My wife is quite the crème snob herself and she agreed it was the best she’s ever had. There are stories of patrons coming in and ordering the crème brulee before dinner and after dinner, and I can see why. But, my favorite thing on the dessert menu had to be the pear tart frangipane with vanilla almond frangipane, topped with a scoop of homemade pistachio ice cream.

For those looking to experience dining at The Refectory at a lighter price, their Bistro menu is offered Monday through Thursday in the cocktail lounge. They also offer half-priced appetizers at the bar from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, in addition to nightly drink specials. Chef Richard’s First Friday Dinners offer a prix fixed, four course dinner every first Friday of the month, and great option for wine lovers are the 10 for $10 events; they explore wines from all over the world, and aim to educate consumers as much as entertain their taste buds.

For fine dining and fantastic service, The Refectory is a must eat destination for anyone wanting to experience one of the gems that the Columbus culinary scene has to offer.

Special offer this month! Give and get at the Refectory . The Refectory is hoping to stock the shelves at a local food pantry throughout the month of November, by collecting canned goods and toiletries to be donated to the Near Northside Emergency Material Assistance Program. In exchange for dropping off goods, you will be given a gift certificate good for $20 toward two dinner entrees or $10 toward two bistro entrees. It's valid from January through March of 2011.

Diners can bring donations to the restaurant at the time of their reservation, but anyone who wants to donate can drop off a minimum of five canned goods or toiletries at the restaurant’s lobby in order to receive a gift certificate. Donations will be accepted during regular business hours, Monday through Thursday 5:30-9:00 p.m.; Friday through Saturday 5:00-9:00 p.m.

Reservations for the Refectory can be made by calling 614-451-9774 or online at Refectory.com .