One of the many perks of my job is frequent opportunities to enjoy working lunches around town. This afternoon, I had the pleasure of dining at L’Albatros in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood.

L’Albatros is a French brasserie, part of Zack Bruell’s Cleveland empire (for my 518 friends – he’s Cleveland’s version of Angelo Mazzone). He has a tremendous reputation around here, and this was my second trip to a Bruell establishment; my first was Table 45, inside the InterContinental Hotel a few months back. The experience was great, and lived up to the rave reviews I’d heard from several folks.

You’re greeted by an open kitchen as you walk through the door, and can view busy cooks loading plates up on the pass (I love the inner workings of a restaurant kitchen, though I know I’d never want to work in such a grueling atmosphere). The inside is small and intimate, with a tiny bar, brick walls, stone floors and tables tucked in cozy alcoves. L’Albatros has a lovely patio with its own bar, but we visited on a rainy day and had to settle for a table inside next to the (unlit) fireplace.

The waitstaff is knowledgeable and attentive, and the service was quick and efficient without feeling rushed. All in all, a pleasant experience that I’d love to repeat very soon!

Oh, wait – you want to know what the food was like?

Their menu features staples of French cuisine: confits, terrines, pâtés, cassoulets, escargot, etc., as well as a selection of salads and several vegetarian features, which was nice to see. They also offer daily soup and pasta features, using whatever’s fresh. It was my lucky day.

To start: Chilled Beet and Watermelon soup – topped with toasted almonds and chives. Cool and refreshing. Perfect.

Beet Soup
Oops! Bowl looks messy because I ate some before I remembered to take a photo. Look at the color!

Vegetarian Pasta – today’s selection was house-made fettuccine with olive oil and herbs, topped with heirloom tomatoes, kale, roasted corn, and shaved Parmesan cheese

LAlbatros Veg Pasta
The cheese and pasta turned the vegetable broth into a creamy sauce. The tomatoes and corn were at the peak of their summer goodness

Root Vegetable Cassoulet. Not my lunch, so no review from me. Francesca said it was delicious! Looks wonderful.

Root Veg Cassoulet
This wasn’t my dish, so I can’t comment on the taste. But it looks pretty incredible. This will definitely be my choice on my next visit

The servers made frequent stops to refill our bread plates with fresh baguette slices, to be dipped in peppery olive oil. I must have eaten at least five slices. Oof.

Bottom line: lovely little restaurant, delicious and simple food, friendly and welcoming atmosphere. No mention of any Ancient Mariners. One of my favorite Cleveland spots so far!

Crumbs: One of my dining companions spotted Zack Bruell in the restaurant as we were walking out, but then we couldn’t find him to say hello and tell him how much we enjoyed his restaurant. Oh, well. Next time. Because there WILL be a next time.

11401 Bellflower Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106
(216) 791-7880

Note: there is a fee for parking in the lot in front of the restaurant.