A family business opened in 1991, Le Chatelaine now operates three upscale little locations in north Columbus. A bistro and a bakery, the little shop brings a variety of French soups and sandwiches to the table as well as baked goodies and plenty of pleasant atmosphere to go around. It’s well suited to sit and read a book or chat with a friend over a quiet meal for a long time, and that atmosphere by itself makes the place so magnetic it’s hard to resist going back.
So it’s hard to pin down a menu because some of the items are available all of the time while others are only served at certain times or when they come in. It’s almost a pleasant thing to go in not knowing what to expect on the menu any given day. In the spirit of a bistro, the place offers cafeteria-style dining with indoor and outdoor seating. The coffee has unlimited refills and the whole spirit of the place is low-key enough that you get your food and relax with few interruptions.
- French Onion Soup: I like what I tried; the rich french onion soup is very savory, easily one of my favorite soups.
- Seafood sausage: The first main course I tried was a specialty that day: a crab-stuffed seafood sausage served on french bread with mayo and vegetables. It was refreshingly different, and very tasty.
- Cake: The different coffees are rich and tasty. Best yet, the bakery offers rich dessert tarts and cakes which are impossible not to love. The decadent little cakes emblazoned with an “L” seem meant to be shared by two. All told, there are a lot of worthy items to sample on the menu.
- Tomato bisque: Buttery, creamy and with not that thick, velvety consistency. Good with a bit of swiss cheese on the top!
- Turkey sandwich: One of the lunch specials is a choice of cold cuts topped with brie cheese on a crisp bun. The difference in textures is just grand.
The aforementioned environment of this place is spot on. It’s casual and not off-putting, but at the same time very intimate and romantic. Outdoor seating at each location allows plenty of opportunity to enjoy nice weather, and the whole air of the place meshes seamlessly. I’ve never been to France, but I get the idea that this place plays into the fantasies of the country shared by many here in Columbus: It’s just lovely.
While the place can at times be a little dirty (a problem which lies squarely in the hands of ambivalent workers occasionally forgetting what to do) I have to say overall there are few persistent problems with the restaurant. It’s the kind of place that certainly deserves a try, and absolutely worthy of an afternoon lunch date to escape the hustle and bustle of Columbus.
- The day-to-day menu changes, so I would suggest checking in the bistro on the day you go to eat. I can’t guarantee any items on the menu.
- Save room for dessert; you’re sure to see something you like in the bakery.
- Definitely come out on a nice day, as the patio is a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon with a friend.