La Chatelaine in Dublin, the newest of the three restaurants that the Wielezynski family has opened in Columbus, recreates the atmosphere of a small French neighborhood at its location on Bridge Street. “Restaurant,” though, is not really an accurate term to describe La Chatelaine. A combo bakery, patisserie, café, bistro, bar, and brasserie, La Chatelaine is a place where one can dine three times a day but have a completely different, yet always traditional, French experience each visit—and it won’t break the bank, either. Grab a cup of coffee and a pastry in the morning at the café, pick up a soup and salad at the bistro for lunch, and sit down for an authentic French meal in the evening—with the house wine or a Belgian beer, s’il vous plaît. And one of La Chatelaine’s biggest draws: don’t ever expect to pay more than $16 per entrée.
Val Wielezynski, owner of the Dublin restaurant, is one of four siblings who run the family-owned business which his parents began after immigrating to the U.S. in 1985. The senior-most family members, patriarch and matriarch Stan and Gigi, are still very much involved in the restaurants. However it’s the three eldest children, Tad, Val and Marie-Charlotte, who take care of the day-to-day operations of the three locations. It is obvious that La Chatelaine is intrinsically different than any chain restaurant because of its familial roots, and it is especially distinctive from American faux-French eateries because of the authenticity of the recipes, passion of and talent within the family. Go to any of the locations—Dublin, Lane Ave., or Worthington—and you’ll be dealing directly with a Wielezynski family member.
The posted hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. The actual hours are more like 7 a.m. to whenever-the-last-customer-leaves. Val, concerned with his diners’ experience, doesn’t hesitate to keep his restaurant open late for those capturing the spirit of a true European dinner, which has a way of turning into a lengthy affair. If you’re a happy-hour adherent, don’t miss out on La Chatelaine’s; their's runs 5 p.m to 7 p.m. at all locations.
The Dublin restaurant is a 2007 addition to the downtown historic district. Val and his father, Stan, designed the building, influenced by the architecture of the French countryside. Val had the opportunity to open the restaurant at Polaris or Easton, but he deflected due to the importance of being rooted in and surrounded by a community—which Dublin undeniably provides.
La Chatelaine première, opened in 1991 on Lane Ave., the street of which was incidentally inspiration for the name of the restaurant. The second opened in Worthington in 1993, and after a hiatus of 14 years, the family finally got the Dublin location up-and-running. The delay, Val explained, was due to a lack of family members of age and experience for the undertaking. The youngest Wielezynski, Janek, 22, is on track to become a contributing factor after enrolling at the Culinary Institute of America in California where he will decide if he wants to focus his education on pastries, bread or wine.
Val indulged us with an authentic countryside feast—with an emphasis on feast. The meal began with the Plateau de Charcuterie: a slice of homemade pâté—sans liver, but with cognac and black truffles—sausage, prosciutto, pickles and Dijon mustard. The Escargots de Bourgogne followed, prepared very simply with salt, pepper, garlic, parsley and butter.
As we tested the Flamekush Lyon, a flat bread with various meats, olives and a fire roasted tomato sauce, Val explained that the oven roasted bread, a staple of the Alsace region of France, has a history that reaches back to the Middle Ages. La Chatelaine’s flamekush is cooked in old-fashioned ovens from Europe.
The Cuisse de Canard arrived, prepared confit: in its own fat. The duck is served as part of a stew with pork, beans, leeks, onions, tomato, red wine and garlic. The confit preparation of the duck gives it a rich flavor and tender consistency that is truly française. The best part about La Chatelaine’s meat is that it all comes from the Ohio State Butcher, which equates to freshness and value.
Moving on to another bird, we tested the Vol au Vent de Poulet, à la crème fraiche. This dish of sautéed chicken breast and mushrooms with a cream-based sauce is served in a light and flaky puff pastry, which allows for volume on the plate, but not in the belly.
To round out the meal, we were served Galettes de Crabe, Saumon et Crevettes. The three cakes were complemented by assorted root vegetables and jasmine rice—a savory, but not overly heavy dish.
For dessert, La Chatelaine is not short of options. Val’s older brother, Tad, is a chocolatier and pâtissier, and prepares all of the pastries at the location on Lane. Their dense macaroon and the La Chatelaine chocolate cake are must-haves.