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Apr 9, 2007 09:22 PM

Rendezvous *In* (not *at*) Central Square

I can't believe I've gotten the name wrong all this time, starting with that very early rave I gave them in The Dig right after they first opened. Sorry, gang.

Was thrilled when my beloved suggested this place recently for dinner. It's a favorite of mine over the past year or so. It always seems to deliver where it counts on the plate, yet never seems satisfied with that, going above and beyond the call of service in an understated but very professional way.

Dinner: a gorgeous and rather big frisee salad with a shower of beautiful duck "confit." Not clear to me that that duck was actually confit'ed, but it was certainly delicious, fatty and rich yet not too heavy, in the same way a poached egg enriches the more commonplace French-style frisee salad.

Super charcuterie plate and vegetable antipasto: each four to six simple, self-contained, superb little bites. Duck prosciutto, a salume of pork shoulder whose thin slices featured a gigantic square of sublime white fat in the middle, perfect little bites of baby leek, an island of transporting eggplant puree. A small array of gorgeous, mostly unadorned flavors..

A memorable onion soup based on an astonishing veal stock with a smallish, subtle crouton with excellent Gruyere on top. A modest plate of medium-weight potato gnocchi with some beef short ribs, mostly about the rich, rich gravy -- a quiet stunner. Lemon pudding so velvelty and perfectly tart/sweet that I don't mind an overly sweet huckleberry sauce.

An impressive wine list; thoughtful, with many unusual wines, something worthy at every price level. Extraordinary service throughout: attentive and unobtrusive, genial and eminently professional, expert in little things like wine service. A tremendous bargain, five apps and a dessert for about $60 before wine, tax, and tip.

The whole experience stands in stark contrast to many recent meals at better-known, more assiduously-hyped places. Not sure how to quantify it, but there's a certain level of professionalism, pride, and dedication to service that comes through in the front of the house here. The back of the house delivers equally strongly: with consistency, unflashy creativity, superb ingredients, more than a little soul.

In short, this evening stomps 9 out of 10 pricier dinners I've had in the last four months or so.

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  1. Wow, funny how easily a place slips off your radar when it's not in your 'hood, and then you read something like this and are thrown into a tizzy over your own blindered laziness. (OK, not "you", "I.") I gotta get back there; my only experiences have been likewise quietly superb. I think (double-check me) the lemon pudding is a year-round signature whose fruit sauce changes season to season, BTW.

    1. I ate at Rendezvous last night. There is something about the menu, for some reason, that never seems compelling when I walk by. But last night (in part because of JB’s recent rave) I finally “forced” myself to eat there. Now I can’t wait to go back.

      Lots of interesting cocktails on their specialty cocktail list. (Which, mercifully, was not called a “martini” list.) I had a great cucumber and mint cocktail, which reminded me of summer. DC had a champagne cocktail.

      We ordered lots of veggies: the “simple green” salad (perfectly dressed), the vegetable antipasto mentioned above (agree with that assessment, and would add the roasted peppers element was fantastic). We split a perfect-for-a-chilly-April vegetable pot pie, with a nicely toasted parmesan crust, and a little truffle oil with the veggies I believe. I want to eat this every night for the next week.

      Comments about service being both friendly and professional are proven by our server cheerfully allowing us to try three different wines before we finally picked one to go with our shared entrée.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Alcachofa

        I think it is more refined/restrained than Blue Room's was under SJ--b/c I know what you mean. It's sort of like certain pieces of clothing that don't necessarily wow you on the rack, but when you try it on, it's a perfect fit...

        1. re: Alcachofa

          I am a true fan of the bar-tending at Rendezvous. Plus they will make any cocktail you ask, if you give them the ingredients. I had a lime/mint/vodka cocktail that was executed perfectly last time I was there (ok, truefully, I had more than one!).

          I need to go back to Rendezvous. It has been too long. Thanks for the nudge.

          1. re: Alcachofa

            The vegetable pot pie is perfect comfort food. I had it on one of the really cold nights a couple of weeks ago, and then had to go back the next night to have it again.

            And this is the charm of Rendezvous. On the menu, vegetable pot pie sounds, well, ordinary, but when it arrives, its somehow much more than the sum of its ingredients.

          2. Yes, we went there recently for the first time and loved it. They do a great prix-fixe every Sunday for $30-35 (varies) that I would reccomend highly. Great food, great service, and plenty to eat, unlike some prix-fixes I have seen where courses get scaled back to tapas-sized portions.

            The lemon pudding (which came with Huckleberry sauce when we were there is the best dessert I have had in a restaurant in a long time. Save room.

            1 Reply
            1. re: andytee

              Totally agree about the lemon pudding. I am not a dessert eater and it made me want to lick the plate. It's more of a lemon mousse souffle pudding cake and it is swoon-worthy.

            2. I am such a HUGE fan of Rendevous and agree it deserves so much more attention that it gets in comparison to it's over-hyped & over-priced counterparts. Their Sunday prix-fixe is on of the best deals in greater Boston in terms of cost to quality of food & service ratio. Their endive, apples, & duck confit salad is perfectly balanced and their morrocan spiced chicken is absolutely succulent (I never like that word, but it perfectly describes the flavorful and tender quality of the dish). I would disagree about the huckelberry sauce being overly sweet as I think it acts as a perfect accent to the amazingly light & tart lemon pudding/ cake concoction. Keep an eye out for their braised beef short ribs, as these have a wonderful flavor.

              Special inside tip....if your not a big sweets eater, they will let you subsitute another appetizer for your dessert for the prix-fixe price!

              Go, and Go Often! This is just the sort of place chowhounds should reward with lots & lots of business!

              1 Reply
              1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                Thanks for the tip on the dessert/app swap for the prix-fixe. I will definitely be trying it soon ... and hope that my DC will let me have just a wee bite of the lemon pudding cake.