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Mar 2, 2007 10:40 AM

Mendocino Question Again: Rendevous Cafe, Albion River Inn or Mendo Bistro

OK - I dislike when people post these type of questions, but I am going to do it anyway. I'd like a special occassion dinner for a Saturday evening in Mendocino. I have narrowed it down to these three. I have read many posts on Mendocino, but they are either dated or discuss sandwich type places.

Based on what I've read here, these seem like the best bets for a fancy-ish meal in Mendocino. I read about the Stevenswood Inn (sp?), but the previous reviews on the board were not so great and the prices seem a bit steep.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. Albion River Inn hasn't gotten too many enthusiastic reports on the board that I've seen. I haven't been other than for a drink, but it strikes me as a 'view' type of place: so if you go, go before the sun goes down, after which there won't be a view at all....

    I can weigh in on Rendezvous Inn: I've had one outstanding dinner there and one that was somewhat disappointing. However, in the case of the disappointing meal the extremely sllooowwww service was more of an issue than the food.

    Next time I think I will try Mendo Bistro, FWIW.

    and mine might have been one of the less than enthusiastic posts on Stevenswood. I think you are probably right to take it off the list.

    1 Reply
    1. re: susancinsf

      Thanks for your feedback. The Albion River Inn is a recommendation from 2 non-board friends. I think the Mendo Bistro web site is a little odd, but I guess I shouldn't let that dissuade me. I'll have to see if the SO wants to drive to Fort Bragg.


    2. I just came back from a special weekend in Fort Bragg, and we dined at both the Rendezvous Inn and Mendo Bistro (separate nights). I love the Rendezvous. We've dined there twice, months apart, and we've not had a bad experience. The first time, I had a goat cheese and pear salad, hubby had the escargots forestiere (snails with wild mushrooms encased in puff pastry and sauced most decadently-wished I'd ordered it!), my en tree was leg of lamb (perfectly done), this time I had the Kurobuta pork (luscious and fork tender) and hubby had the Kobe style short ribs of beef (incredibly succulent). We've also stayed at the Rendezvous Inn, and can recommend their house breakfast highly! Mendo Bistro was pretty fabulous as well. We shared Hog Island oysters on the half shell, and could have easily doubled the order without batting an eye (might just next time!). They were small, sweet and delectable. Our dinner en trees were leg of lamb (him) which was served medium rare at a perfect temp, with a warm-spice marinade, and I had the chef's special Ragout of Ox tails, which was wonderful. We've also dined at The Restaurant, The Cliff House, and down in the harbor, and our two favorites at this point are 1) Rendezvous and 2) Mendo Bistro. Next trip, we try Silvers at The Wharf.

      6 Replies
      1. re: NoCAFoodie

        Thanks for the report back. We did make it to Rendezvous Inn and, as susaninsf mentioned, the service was sloooooooow. The place is tiny and I think the staff is minimal, which was fine since I was not dying of hunger. It literally took an hour to get our salads and then another 30 minutes for the entrees. To be fair, there was a rather large group of about 12 people that was probably overwhelming the staff, so I kept my patience and managed not to complain since it was supposed to be a stress-free weekend away from SF.

        The food was excellent. I too had the pork, done 2 ways, and it was tender and super moist. The short ribs were also very good.

        On our first night we headed to the Moose Cafe in Mendocino proper. I had a wonderful caesar salad and the cioppino. I've had better cioppino elsewhere, but the soup was satisfying and the seafood was fresh and varied (shrimp, mussels, clams, cod, and halibut). Unfortunately, I didn't manage to eat dessert. It is definitely worth a stop since it's so cozy inside and the food is quite good.

        1. re: Mari

          Thanks for the report back! Your statement that you thought the large group may have overwhelmed the staff implies that there was more than one FOH person present: if so, count yourself lucky: when we had the slow service there was no large group, but also only one person we ever saw doing everything (bussing tables, service, host duties etc).

          The food is very good however.Glad you were able to relax and enjoy!

          Did you make it to Mendo Birstro?

          1. re: susancinsf

            No, we didn't make it to Mendo Bistro. Since we only had 2 evenings for dinner we decided to stick to Mendocino the first night and dined at the Moose Cafe.

            At the Rendevous Inn they had one waiter, a hostess who assisted the waiter and the busboy. The restaurant was rather crowded for a Saturday evening.

          2. re: Mari

            I can imagine how service can be slow at times. It's a very small operation. Kim is pretty much alone in the kitchen, so 12 orders simultaneously would stretch a solo chef/sous chef/pastry chef a little bit.
            Note to susaninsf ~ The night you only saw one person...I can only imagine that Kim's whole staff (of two) called in...and he was doing everything alone. What else are you going to do? And yes...we got to Mendo Bistro this last time and loved it just as much!

            1. re: NoCAFoodie

              Well, I am no expert when it comes to running a restaurant, and I don't know what you can do...except perhaps have some back up staff available? I do know that Moose Cafe in Mendo (just to give one of a number of examples that I can think of) doesn't seem to me to be any bigger in terms of tables, but definitely has more than a staff of two. For that matter, La Ciccia in my home town is no bigger (probably smaller) and generally has a staff of at least two servers plus a bus boy plus chef owner and his wife who greets, often does the wine service, etc...Rendevouz Inn isn't *that* small of an operation. You don't mention his wife, but she was there the first time, and is still mentioned on the website, and helped the FOH run much more smoothly (but wasn't there on our second visit). I do recognize that having as much backup may be difficult in a smaller town, and it isn't a huge big deal, but it does definitely detract from the dining experience, and folks should be aware and prepared for the possibility of *very* long waits. Sort of unfortunate, since the food really is quite good!

              1. re: NoCAFoodie

                I forgot to add that we received a free glass of port with dessert. Maybe this was a gesture given the long wait everyone had for the first course.

          3. I've only eaten at Mendo Bistro, so I can't give you a comparaitve analysis. But I *can* tell you that I've never eaten at any of the other places because I can't tear myself away from Mendo Bistro. That must be worth something.

            1. The cool thing about the Mendo Bistro, if you've never been, you can get chicken done a bunch of different ways (roasted, braised, broiled, fried, whatever) with a bunch of choices of sauce (barbecue, morrocan, creme, etc.) It is sooooooooooo good, and only $11 for some seriously tasty chicken. Locals can afford the $5 glasses of wine. Low-key scrumptious, unpretentious. Not top-notch cuisine, oo la la, but great afforable grub worthy of a fussy chowhound.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lamoufette

                Don't forget the mashed potatoes -- they're on my all-time top 3 list.