l’albatros (plus cooking demos)

To celebrate my birthday last weekend (if you’ve never met me, it was my 29th), Jamie took me to dinner at L’Albatros. He knows me so well – all I wanted was good wine and cheese to accompany it and he picked the perfect spot.

This was our third visit to the restaurant. On prior visits, we sat in the same room, the one that’s to the right of the bar. This time we sat to the left of the bar in the cozy brick room with a fireplace and views of the patio.

We started off with a wonderful bottle of the Normon petite syrah, of which I think I enjoyed the majority. I passed on the cauliflower soup for fear of making the same mistake on previous visits (filling up on soup and not being able to fully enjoy anything else) and instead opted for the beat salad. I peaked at nearby diners’ tables and they all seemed to be oohing and ahhing over the soup. Chef Bruell’s creativity really shines, in my opinion, with soups. None the less I opted to pass on what I know would have been wonderfully tasty for something that was just okay (the beet salad actually only had a hint of beets). Regardless, it’s not the salads that draw one into L’Albtros or keep bringing us back.

For dinner, I ordered the braised leg of lamb over pasta risotto and rosemary jus while Jamie once again chose the Saturday night special: beef bourguignon with pearl onions, mushrooms and burgandy reduction. Our server shared with us that this continues to be one of the most popular items and they sell out each Saturday by 8 p.m.

Wow. There really isn’t a better way to describe our meals. Before we even took a bite, we knew we were in for a treat based on aromas alone. When you can smell your dish approaching, you know it’s going to impress you. Jamie’s dish was even better than we remembered from our first visit. And the lamb – that just might be the best lamb I’ve had out in a long time.

And to top it all off – and what made Jamie bring me here in the first place – five glorious cheeses handpicked from Brandon Chrostowski, manager/fromager. Honestly, I would love to share exactly what I had, but I was feeling too good from the wine to bother writing anything down, and the more and more I turn 29, the less and less I can remember. But it doesn’t matter – just tell Brandon what you like and he’ll happily set you up on a wonderful journey that will delight your palate.

It was a perfect evening and a delicious way to end an already good day that started off at the farmer’s market at Shaker Square (purchases at Ohio Honey and Tea Hill Farms) and breakfast at Vine & Bean (more on that later).

Speaking of Zack Bruell, if you’re a fan, you might be interested to know he’s offering his version of cooking classes: Take 45 with Zack at Table 45.

The interactive cooking demonstrations and tastings will feature Bruell preparing his signature eclectic fare, providing techniques, tips and insight in Table 45’s state-of-the art open kitchen. Sessions will feature a different theme every month; the first is Tandoori oven cooking.

Take 45 will take place every other Tuesday at 6 p.m., beginning June 23, and accommodates up to eight participants. The demonstrations cost $55 per person, including chef-prepared cuisine. Optional wine pairings are available for $25 per person. Reservations are required. Call 216-707-4045.

One Comment

  1. Steve Shoemaker
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    My wife and love L'Albatros, and especially Brandon and the cheese selections that he brings in. And Happy Birthday to you.