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Cleveland Food Tour: L’Albatros

If I had to sum up L’Albatros in one word it would simply be WOW! Or, should I say Le Wow! What an amazing place nestled on Bellflower Avenue in the heart of University Circle. If you’ve been, you know how awesomely awesome this place is — if you haven’t, do yourself a favor a book a trip to University Circle to see the art museum and have lunch or dinner at this rustic French “cafe.”

Now, before you go all foo foo on me, just because it’s French doesn’t mean it’s pompous or overly stuffy. In fact, just the opposite. Beautiful rustic charm as you walk in, you’re greeted by the kitchen staff on your right (all open) and a hostess in front of you, and the bar to your left (which also has some seating and a chef’s table — tres cool). You walk through the bar to the main seating which features large windows, brick walls and a very large and beautiful fireplace as the centerpiece on the far back wall. It’s almost as if you walked into an old home in the French countryside. And of course the menu featured what you may expect in a French restaurant, and this was, by far, one of the most extensive wine lists this reviewer has seen in some time (and several choices above the $400/bottle range if that’s your thing.). I opted for a gorgeous Bordeaux that paired absolutely perfectly with the entree selections: a chicken confit and a tiger shrimp over fettucini.

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The chicken confit (preferred over duck as it’s less fatty and gamey) was beautifully prepared and served over spaetzel, a treat one doesn’t often get with chicken. It was layered with complex flavors enhanced by, I believe, finely shredded brussel sprouts. The chicken was amazingly moist and fell right off the bone, making for a perfect mouthful with the spaetzel combination. Flaky, moist and delicious.

The tiger shrimp, while the “hero” of the dish was outshined by the just exceptional pasta. It was clearly handmade and perhaps as fresh as made to order pasta, cooked perfectly al dente. Without question, it’s the best pasta I’ve ever had at a restaurant, most always they drown it in heavy sauce or it’s just mushy — this was flavorful, had a great texture, and the sauce may have been made by God’s hands. It was almost a “broth” that coated the pasta and shrimp with an amazing flavor enhanced most definitely in this case, by roasted brussel sprouts. The shrimp was meaty and large, and the five tiger prawns that came with the dish were more than enough to eat.

Now, for dessert, what could possibly be better than…..fresh hand shucked oysters!

img_0265 as i am a true sucker for the shuckers, I had to get them. Shucked right then and there, these were as fresh as a naughty toddler in kindergarten. Briney deliciousness, garnished and served perfectly and paired with a beautiful Dortmunder Gold. Six to a plate, though you can also order 12. The best part of this luncheon/dinner excursion was, of all things, the price. I couldn’t believe how affordable this was (it was no more expensive than going to an Applebee’s, for instance). I couldn’t believe the prices, and I say that in a good way — I actually thought they could have charged double (and I’ve seen it for more, with less quality). The place is a fantastic value. The service staff was knowledgeable and engaging, prompt and smiling. They got a good tip (thank you Audrey and Liz!). This place is spectacular. A perfect date place without breaking the bank, and you can (and should) try something you’ve never had before. I can’t wait to go back. Five Stars all the way! Mon Dieu!

 

 

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