L’Albatros is a large place spread over numerous rooms. Its setting is an old carriage house on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. You entered by the open part of the kitchen with the oldest of the dining rooms straight ahead. We were instead ushered into a newer room that was lined on one side by windows looking out to the patio. Music played in the background but sound was well dampened by the acoustic ceiling tiles. Plastic tables and chairs were heavy gauge and not covered with tableclothes but did have cloth napkins. The well worn menu offered just a la carte options and the changing options included the soup and pasta of the day. Service was friendly and helpful but didn’t include a lot of explanation of the food, which overall lacked a spark.
Bread service was presented in a basket of cut small slices. It came with a dish of olive oil, which seemed odd as the restaurant is billed as a French bistro. The bread had a nice crisp crust and a doughy interior. It was good and the olive oil nicely fruity.
We started with the chicken liver and foie gras mousseline, served with cornichons, caper berries, pickled onions and toasted baguette pieces. It was very mildly flavored and very whippy. I could detect no richness that the foie gras should have added and little liver flavor at all. The pickled onion was the best of the accompaniments to mix with the mousse and contrasted nicely with the totally crisp breads but it was also nice spread on the house soft bread. I would call this okay but mostly way too bland.
The Sauteed Skate Wing with brown butter, parsley and balsamic vinegar was plated with a vegetable medley of peppers, eggplant, yellow squash, zuchini, tomatoes, mushrooms and onions. Many of the vegetables seemed to have been grilled separately before being mixed into the fun combination. The skate was cooked perfectly and very tasty but it would have benefitted from a more generous serving of the browned butter.
The Faroe Island Salmon was grilled and served with lentils, watercress leaves and béarnaise sauce. The lentils were fairly dry but the salmon was nicely cooked. The béarnaise sauce was nice but I think I liked the aioli that came with the fries better with the fish. It was okay but unexciting.
We added a side order of fries to split and they appeared house cut and fried. They came with optional aioli and ketchup which we opted to have. Some of the fries were nicely crisp and overall good.
For dessert we tried 2 of the waiters recommendations. The Apple Cake was served with praline ice cream. The cake was super moist and the ice cream was nicely studded with nuts and caramel. It was decadently sweet and really good.
The Pistachio Cake was served with burnt butter cream frosting. It was dense and buttery with a nutty, sweet icing. It started as a non-wow but really grew on me. It was different but very interesting. Not a huge sweet fix, it was still oddly satisfying and I’d get it again if I ever found myself here again.