L’Albatros Brasserie & Bar transports Cleveland diners out of our Rust Belt landscape and into a classic, timeless respite of a French countryside restaurant, all in the comfort of our very own backyard.
When executive chef and owner Zack Bruell opened his restaurant in the former carriage house in University Circle 11 years ago, it was the third of eight restaurants in his ever-increasing culinary repertoire. But, aged like a fine wine, L’Albatros has remained one of his most iconic destinations, with carefully constructed, authentic French cuisine served in an intimate setting.
But “French” doesn’t mean pretentious here. Plenty of dishes straddle the line of approachable and adventurous — depending on your familiarity with the cuisine.
“Because we’re a classic French brasserie, the menu doesn’t change at all,” explains Bruell, noting the exceptions of the plat du jour and daily specials. “I like to do stuff that’s a little different. It’s my interpretation of classic dishes.”
The cassoulet ($28) is a standout, a surprisingly delicate combination of several types of meat, including lamb, duck and pork, all cooked separately and then combined in a light stew with braised white beans.
You’ll find escargot ($12) in a toasted garlic and fennel butter sauce, crispy duck leg confit ($26) with a sweet potato puree and braised cabbage and an herbaceous sauteed skate wing ($22) served in a brown butter sauce with parsley and balsamic vinegar alongside a cheese-smothered vegetable casserole.
Even the L’Albatros burger ($16), prepared with roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese and a thick, creamy bearnaise sauce, is so decadently prepared it fits right in — but doesn’t stray too far from the American classic.
While the food is the piece de resistance here, there are other stars. A lush backyard patio is one of our fave summer hangouts. The cheese selection ($12-$18) — with more than 20 different options — remains one of the best in town.
“It goes well with the wines,” says Bruell. “It’s perfect either to start a meal or to end one.”
11401 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, 216-791-7880, albatrosbrasserie.com