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Feb 2, 2009 06:54 AM

Thoughts on new-ish Cleveland restaurants

I was wondering if any local chowhounders had visited some places that have opened recently. I am especially interested in feedback about L'Albatross, Tartine bistro in Rocky River and martin Kaplan's latest, Luxe. Thanks everyone!

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  1. I have a foodie friend at work who has a little more disposable income for trying out new places than I do, and she has been repeatedly to Tartine and says it's very good, also recently visited L'Albatross and really enjoyed it. I am very anxious to go to both places but just haven't gotten there yet. Can't comment on Luxe.

    1. I went to L'Albatros this weekend. I enjoyed my meal and everyone else in our large party seemed even more impressed with theirs. And the menu is fantastic. I'm looking forward to virtually everything on it. I know that the executive chef has chosen a very capable chef de cuisine and I trust him to do the right thing in the kitchen. Based on one visit, I say it's a keeper. One other thing that impressed me is that they're doing their own desserts without a dedicated pastry chef and they're doing a good job at it. The only question I have is whether they'll keep the menu fresh. No matter how good the food is at a restaurant, I always like to see a new dish pop up every once in a while. Their concept is specific and traditional so I wouldn't expect them to turn over their menu completely the way that a contemporary restaurant might do every season but it would be nice to see one or two new dishes every season.

      I went to Tartine as well. It was a long time ago. I was very disappointed. I had the cheese, apple, chicken sandwich. It just didn't have any flavor and it was a little dry. Not the chicken specifically, just the sandwich as a whole. My companions enjoyed their meals - especially the gazpacho. Another friend went separately and was also disappointed.

      I just can't get excited about Luxe. I had a disappointing meal at One Walnut recently and that expecience sapped any interest that I had in Luxe. And I was interested. Everything I've heard suggests that it's a beautiful restaurant and the neighborhood is great. A very trustworthy source tells me that he enjoyed Luxe after also being disappointed at One Walnut so I may need to force myself to try Luxe. I've decided to do it at least a couple times and just couldn't make myself. I always ended up somewhere else.

      I've also been to Taste Food and Wine several times. I was told that they're changing and also expanding their menu. I haven't been back recently to check out the results. I'm definitely looking forward to it though.

      The other new restaurant on my radar is Darna. I've been impressed with several visits to Bodega and the restaurants share ownership. I'm also excited about the possibility of having a good Moroccan restaurant in Cleveland. I really hope I'm not disappointed. They've been open about a month now so I they're almost ready for a first visit.

      Tartine Bistro
      19110 Detroit Rd, Cleveland, OH

      L'Albatros Brasserie Bar
      11401 Bellflower Road, Cleveland, OH 44106

      Taste Restaurant
      2317 Lee Road Cleveland Heights, OH, OH

      4 Replies
      1. re: stuart

        I always forget to describe the photos that I attach. Chowhound should make doing that more obvious. Anyhoo....

        Frozen souffle from L'Albatros
        Cassoulet from L'Albatros
        Chicken, apple, cheese "tartine" at Tartine Bistro
        Scallops with creamy leeks at Taste

        1. re: stuart

          wait -- is that a modern, non-gooey version of cassoulet? niiice!

          1. re: mrnyc

            I had the cassoulet in the that photo - and yes, it was a sort of "deconstructed" dish that worked wonderfully. The smoked pork and sausage platter that my husband ate was also heavenly. And Zach Bruell wasn't even in the house this night - a testament to the team he has assembled there to execute his vision.

            L'Albatros is highly recommended.

        2. re: stuart

          I've been to Darna a couple times now. It's a keeper. Everything has ranged from very good to excellent. All of the vegetables in my entrees have been fresh and flavorful. They make their own baklava and it's delicious. They offer specials on a regular basis. I overheard the staff talking about an upcoming menu change. It's nice to know that they committed to keeping the menu fresh.

          The pictures are: berbere couscous with lamb, their baklava sampler and fresh sardines. I'd never seen fresh sardines before. They were delicious and they came with preserved lemon which was also delicious. Apparently, it's a feature of Moroccan cooking. In addition to a new, quality restaurant, it seems like Darna is adding a little variety to the Cleveland food world.

          I was a little disappointed that the chicken in the sourtani couscous was all white meat. Is this another feature of Moroccan cooking? I'm inclined to think it's just an appeal to American food prejudices.

          Darna Casablanca
          13114 Shaker Square, Cleveland, OH 44120

        3. I love Luxe (and I was not a huge fan of One Walnut, simply because I thought it was overpriced). Luxe has a very cool, neighborhood vibe, and a wonderful range of small plates to main courses that are both interesting and well-executed. I recommend it without hesitation.

          1. We enjoyed Tartine this summer on the patio; good atmosphere, interesting well-priced food and drink. It was packed when we tried it this past Saturday, though it honestly isn't my first choice for inside dining as all of the hard surfaces probably make it awfully noisy. I've been to Luxe once and LOVED it! Great food (the gnocchi was heavenly), fantastic ambience and great drinks! I can't wait to go back. I would caution Stuart that the neighborhood isn't necessarily great (not yet anyway) but it does have a great vibe. Loved sitting at dinner and seeing the old lady in her housecoat across the way, leaning out of her apartment to survey the scene. Is L'Albatross another Zach Bruell venture?

            1 Reply
            1. re: gourmanda

              Yes on the L'Albatross question.

            2. My husband & I went to Tartine a little over a month ago. We decided to try it after hearing so much hype and having done a drive by it looked really cute. I can't tell you how disappointed we were. From the minute we walked in it was negative, the greeting was lackluster, they did not seem to be happy to seat us. The menu looked & sounded great. We started with roasted beet salads which were more greens than anything with some perhaps boiled but not roasted beets and an average vinaigrette. I had a wild mushroom white truffle goat cheese pizza and my husband had one of their namesake tartines. it was served with more of the same greens. Both were incredibly mediocre and something that any decent home cook could or has made at home, nothing special about it. the tartine had canned artichokes, some jarred roasted red pepper & melted cheese, complete with squeeze bottle zig zag lines of balsamic something or other. we did have a nice espresso creme brulee and a nice bottle of cote du rhone. the service was terrible, we had to bus our own plates out of the way, she didn't smile, didn't offer any info or suggestions, didn't say much other than the bare minimum.
              I should note that I've heard rave reviews and it was full when we were there. Maybe this is just what some people are in to! I think "real" foodies will see past the hype.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kazfoodie

                Tartine is "OK." It's cute but a little bit overrated--not bad, though. L'Albatross is very good. Very hard to get reservations, too. Luxe is decent for a bar-like setting--I was more happy to see something flourishing in that area than I was with anything else.