Classic in Cleveland [Cleveland, OH]

Recently revisited L’Albatross in the University Circle neighborhood. I was introduced to this place by my dad, who used to frequent it around visits to the excellent Cleveland Art Museum. We went on a Sunday afternoon, at their 3pm opening.

We scored a window table overlooking the terrace. Note to self - revisit in the summer. They were offering quite a selection of specials in association with restaurant week. We ordered a few of them but didn’t otherwise take advantage of the special menu. Pork rillettes with toast points, pickled onion and cornichon was a fine rendition. They brought our shared salad with frisée lardons, goat cheese nicely divided and plated, as a separate course. We went rustic with our entrées, cassoulet and choucroute garni. Both were superb. Each had a generous square of pork belly that was the best I recall having. An excellent merguez sausage was common to both dishes. Perfect fare for a blustery afternoon. A nice Cotes du Rhône from a familiar negociant was reasonably priced.

Service, from our sever Michelle and manager/somm Julian was attentive. Julian overheard us contemplating asking for additional bread to soak up the excellent sauces and it arrived before we could ask.

The place was positively buzzing by the time we departed a bit after 5pm. Wonderful to see it thriving in all senses of the word.

A final note - a cherry baked Alaska from the restaurant week menu was the best I’ve had in decades. Better than the excellent baked Alaska at Trade in Boston, or Oleana in Cambridge. Second only to the key lime baked Alaska at the dearly departed Pacific Time in Miami Beach.

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Glad to hear L’Albatros is still going strong. My husband and I had our wedding reception dinner there back when it was still That Place on Bellflower. We had lunch there a year or two after Zack Bruell purchased it from Isabella Basile (who retired at 89!) and renamed it. He’d worked for her back in the day - couldn’t be in better hands.

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Indeed, it’s especially gratifying given the fate of Picolo Mondo, Lola, Lolita, and the Cleveland outpost of Urban Farmer. Covid-19 has been brutal for the restaurant industry.

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