After three months of heavy renovations, Zack Bruell breathed new life into the former home of That Place on Bellflower in December with his latest dining concept, L’Albatros. The French brasserie features rustic and hearty (but not haute) dishes, such as Bianco pizza and duck confit. “This is different than anything I’ve done before,” says Bruell, the creator of Parallax and Table 45. Upon entering L’Albatros, guests walk through the kitchen and into a contemporary French setting that still has the old feel of a carriage house, but “one that was dropped down in the middle of Paris,” he says. “It’s an experience you would have somewhere else in the world. You are walking into another city. That’s the experience that we are trying to create.” Come spring, Bruell will also put a French twist on the venue’s renowned patio.
Here are a few special food deals worth digging into this month: The second annual Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week, sponsored by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, runs Feb. 23 through March 1. More than 40 participating restaurants, including Lola, Crop Bistro and Bar and One Walnut, will offer diners a $30 three-course dinner nightly from 5 p.m. to close. Then feed your mind at the next Cleveland Film Society Food Feast, which benefits the International Film Festival. This month, talk about the year’s hottest films while munching on guacamole at A Countdown to the Oscars at Momocho in Ohio City on Feb. 18. Visit clevelandfilm.org to reserve your spot.
Jekyll and Hyde
Hyde Park Restaurant Group will unveil a new side to its lineup of formal steakhouse eateries that include Hyde Park Steakhouse and the Metropolitan Café. Construction has begun on the casual Jekyll’s Café in Chagrin Falls, slated to open in March in the space once occupied by Blake’s Seafood Grille. The new concept will feature two outdoor patios — a bistro-style sidewalk cafe with a fireplace and cabana bar and a lower patio with a full menu — both with views of the falls. Menu items will range from $8 to $20 and boast creative twists on typical American cuisine, including roasted and grilled meats, pastas and seafood dishes, as well as soups, salads, sandwiches and pizzas.
A Sharp Deal
Head to Benihana as the Japanese steakhouse celebrates its 45th anniversary this year with a dinner special for two. Throughout 2009, diners will receive a trio of steak, shrimp and chicken, as well as soup, salad, a shrimp appetizer, hibachi vegetables, rice and green tea — plus a knife-wielding show as it’s all cooked tableside — for $45. When you go, ask for a list of special birthday drinks, including the hot sake infusion, a combination of hot sake and your choice of sour apple, strawberry, passion fruit, raspberry or lychee liqueur.
L’Albatros Brasserie and Bar, 11401 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, (216) 791-7880
Bice, 230 W. Huron Road, Cleveland
Cleveland Grill, 3359 W. 117th St., Cleveland
Epiq Bistro, 9853 Johnnycake Ridge Road, Concord
Mighty Moose BBQ Grill, 36931 Detroit Road, Avon