Best Of 2009

Best New Restaurant: L'Albatros

"Opening this restaurant was an absolute no-brainer," explained chef-owner Zachary Bruell just weeks before introducing the Best New Restaurant of 2009. He was referring, of course, to the tactic of bringing updated French bistro fare to the University Circle carriage house that for decades housed That Place on Bellflower. It appears he hit the proverbial nail on the head: From the moment the doors parted, the restaurant has been besieged by zealous guests — guests who know a good thing when they see, smell and taste it. There were many other noteworthy openings last year, but no restaurant shot out the starting gate so fully formed, so spotless in its execution, service and setting, as L'Albatros. For the first time in a long time, the historic space bubbles with wit, spirit and energy. An already delightful patio was elevated to star status. And the food — from the first schmear of pork and veal pate to the last gooey glop of stinky cheese — is so good it beckons diners back again and again like an illicit lover. Bravo, Bruell. Bravo. (11401 Bellflower Rd., 216.791.7880, Runner up: the Greenhouse Tavern (2038 E. Fourth St., 216.393.4302, — Trattner

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