L’Albatros Brasserie – A Cleveland Must
Cleveland’s boom in excellent restaurants is wonderful… obviously. But with the drastic increase in dining options comes the inevitable turnover of establishments. Whether a restaurant opened at the wrong time, or in the wrong place, it just happens.
However, restaurateur Zack Bruell has managed to keep a handful of these places going for over ten years – including one of my favorite places in Cleveland yet, L’Albatros.
Located in the University Circle area, this French restaurant is tucked in the Case Western campus, among residential homes and the university’s greek houses. L’Albatros is “close enough” to other places to go, but not sandwiched, which makes for an amazing atmosphere.
The atmosphere is outstanding – especially on the patio. Large enough to fit multiple large parties, numerous two-tops and a scatter of 4-6 tops, there is plenty of space to go around. The tables are in a courtyard surrounding a small garden of plant life and candle lanterns. BEAUtiful.
If you’re coming from an event, or just want to stop for dessert or a drink, L’Albatros has a covered outdoor sectional with a ton of great space for a large group, or a few smaller groups. In addition to that section, the outdoor bar also has plenty of seating, perfect for parties of one or couples.
Inside is warm and charming, with touches of modernism. From the art to the chairs, the contrast in colors and sleek lines help brighten the old carriage house. The interior has some exposed elements and is sectioned into “rooms” remnant of its original purpose, but for the most part feels comfortable and upscale.
The food is incredibly approachable, yet sophisticated and adventurous.
The #1 must-try is the “assiette de fromage“. Choose 3, 5 or 7 cheeses from the heavy board of options ($11-17). Both cheese beginners and experts can rejoice – there are at least four or five that will be on par for your personal taste. Goat, blue, stinky, extreme stinky or a “cheddar style,” the offerings are never the same, but I highly recommend going out of your comfort zone with these.
Personally, I avoid cheese with high “ammonia” smells and flavors, but I have tried Mimolette (cured with tiny mites) and beginner stinky from the board, and it’s a great experience if nothing else. Make sure to jump for the first ones that stand out to you; it will be worth the try.
Pair the charcuterie platter with your cheese selection and you’ll love it even more. ($12)
The entree menu is ridiculously hard to choose from! From rich hanger steak, to fresh seared sea scallops to braised leg of lamb. The entree items range from around $12 to $23, and specials are generally a bit more than that.
Speaking of… each evening specials extend the menu. I was torn between three menu items until hearing the additional options, and FYI: the Amberjack is a must-try. Delicious! Last weekend, I ordered the Filet of Amberjack on pureed cauliflower and a vegetable mix… best meal in a long, long time. It won’t be there all the time, but I had to divulge.
Don’t underestimate the lighter fare either; great salads and appetizers are available. If the entree menu seems unapproachable to you, try out the croque-monsieur, L’Albatros burger or one of the pizzas.
Back to adventurous: The escargot for those who have a taste for it (or tolerance to unusual texture) seems as though it would be great! For me – a personal win that I tried it.
Drinks. Yum. That’s all.
But seriously, between the fabulous wine selection of bubbles, whites or reds, L’Albatros also has a comprehensive list of cocktails that are really well done. If you’re a gin drinker – you have to try the La Delice. Whisky drinker – the Black Derby. Beer drinkers will also find a good selection of imports and crafts.
Parking is in an attended, paid lot. However, if you don’t mind taking a little stroll, there is street parking all around, free of charge. I actually recommend the walk, granted the weather is decent. The area is quaint, and surrounded by attractions like the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Natural History Museum, MOCA, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and other restaurants/bars.
Back to the Bruell: he’s got a few other wonderful places to try such as: Parallax, Table 45, Chinato, Cowell & Hubbard and Dynomite. If these spots are nearly as good as L’Albatros, they all seem to be worth the try. Expect some feedback on one… or all…in the near future.
Visit the website.
MON – WED: 11:30AM – 11PM
THUR – SAT: 11:30AM – 12AM
SUN : 3PM – 8PM
11401 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44106