L’Albatros

Last month, my husband was promoted to VP where we work. While he appreciates it, titles have never really mattered to him and he isn’t one that likes a lot of attention directed his way. As his very proud wife, I was not about to let this go with just a pat on the back. So I called my folks to watch the baby and took him to dinner at L’Albatros to celebrate.

L’Albatros is the newest restaurant endeavor from Zack Bruell (Parallax, Table 45) in the old That Place on Bellflower space. I absolutely love Parallax and have never had a bad experience there, so there was no doubt in my mind that this French brasserie was the right restaurant for such occasion.

I can’t even remember the last time I was at That Place, maybe 7 or 8 years ago, if not longer. Therefor, I can’t really recall what the space looked like. But from what I’ve read, Zack basically redid everything, from the decor to some structural work. Whatever he did, it worked because the space is quite beautiful. The styling is very clean and minimal overall. There are warmer colors on select walls to help soften the mostly stark white interior. It’s very well done overall.

Before we even looked at the menu, we ordered two glasses of champagne, which then turned into a glass of Woop Woop cab for me and a martini for Jamie. The server then started going over the few specials and we were quickly sold on basically everything, from specials to the entire menu.

Our server was so sweet and genuinely excited about the food. Her enthusiasm won me over and I decided to start off with the soup and salad specials (a lentil and lamb minestrone and a beet salad with goat cheese and candied pine nuts); Jamie had the onion soup. For dinner, I went with the veal short rib and Jamie chose the beef bourguignon.

The soup, which was topped with pesto, was ridiculously good. It had amazing layers of flavor and big chunks of lamb. The beet salad was also incredible, so good that there wasn’t a speck of evidence left on my plate. Jamie also really enjoyed his onion gratinee (that soup could almost be a meal). I enjoyed my few bites as well, but was surprised by how sweet it was, perhaps a little too sweet.

For my entree, my favorite part was the wild mushroom risotto – perfect texture and taste. I thought the short ribs were good, but not great. They were a little tougher than I anticipated and not as flavorful. I’m not sorry I got it, but think I will try something else next time. As for Jamie’s dish, he couldn’t have been happier. He called it sophisticated comfort food and enjoyed each bite (I agree – the few bites I snagged were really quite good).

As for dessert, Jamie was sold on the warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and I went for a selection of three cheeses. We are very predictable – if there is something warm and chocolate on the menu, Jamie will order it every time and I can never pass up cheese.

Up until Saturday night, I would have awarded Baricelli as offering the best cheese selection in town. That distinction now goes to L’Albatros and Brandon, the guru of all things cheese (look for a q & a with him soon).

If it’s cheese you want, it’s cheese you get. Brandon comes to your table with approximately 25 different types of cheese. The cheese board changes weekly and features selections from all over the world plus several local options. Tableside, Brandon will either describe each one in detail for you, or based on your likes and dislikes, make a recommendation. I went for option number two.

I’m sure I’m going to butcher the spellings, but I tried Langres from France, a very sexy cheese as he described it with black truffles and cow’s milk; Case Forest from Germany, stinky but pleasant on the palate; and ozze from Portugal (plus one bleu but I didn’t write down the name).

With each serving of cheese, Brandon relayed a story of its origin and some interesting fact. It was very informative and we were both impressed by his great knowledge.

From the first bite, we were sold. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up and enjoy cheese and wine on their patio. Of course, I’m sure we’ll be back long before it’s warm enough to eat outside – special occasion or not.

11 Comments

  1. Allison M.
    Posted February 4, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I love a good bleu or goat’s milk cheese.

  2. Jon K.
    Posted February 4, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been to L’Albatros twice and it may be my new favorite place to eat in cleveland. I’ve also had the short ribs and completely agree with you. The risotto was great but the short rib was just ok. It wasn’t bad but it was just something i probably won’t get again. really good to hear about the cheeses, i’ll have to try that the next time i go.

  3. rockandroller
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I keep hearing lots of great things about this place. Maybe we’ll hit it once we get to spring thaw.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    My wife and I are going for the first time on Saturday night. Everything that I’ve heard about it sounds great.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Went there a few weeks ago and everything was wonderful–the atmosphere was cozy, the service was impeccable and the cheese plate was to die for! Can’t wait to return!

  6. James
    Posted February 5, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I may be the only one, but I have never been overly impressed by Mr. Bruell. I thought that Table 45 and Parallax were both “good,” but not outstanding. However, I am hearing great things about L’Albatros, and will almost certainly have to find out for myself. Thanks again for the informative reviews.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted February 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    The Mushroom French Toast appetizer was supurb and quite unique. Loved every minute of our dinner.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    It seems like I moved a year too soon. I used to live a very short walking distance from the old That Place. (For that matter, I wish I would have found this blog before I moved)

    Next time I visit Cleveland, I’ll have to try it out.

  9. Megan
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Love l’Albatros! took my husband for his birthday dinner last weekend. We just moved back to Cleveland after living in NYC for 6 years and have been craving this type of french bisto food. We both had the steak frites and they were great. Recommending to all my friends

  10. Cara
    Posted February 13, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Why did I have to say “Oh sure honey, you can cook for me on V-Day” when we could have gone to L’Albatros again??

    It isn’t very adventurous of me, but I really want to have the steak frites again.

  11. Anonymous
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    We had a great time in L’Albatros(did not like Table 45 that much so came here with some doubts). The cocktails are amazing-we tried L’albatros,one of a pear and portside and the absinthe one and they were all good -L’albatros especially( there were 4 of us).For started we had escargots(excellent) and pork rillettes(so so). I had the skate wing and it was excellent-melt in your mouth. My husband had the roasted trout which was okay-quite bland. My friends had the ahnger steak which he ooh’ed and aah’ed about (must have been good) and the other friend had the leg of lamb which she wsnt too impressed with. We shared the pineapple tart and grand amrniew souffle-they were both good. all in all-good decor,nice ambience, friendly and knowledgeable staff and great food. will go again for sure..

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