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.