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Rendezvous - all starters meal?

Barmy and I are planning to treat ourselves to dinner at Rendezvous tonight. We looked at the menu online, and were struck by the fact that there are a LOT of starters, and they all look terrific. Have others made dinners there with only a selection of small plates? Is it a reasonable thing to do?

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  1. For sure. You would not be disappointed. The Octopus and the Sardines are particularly good.

    3 Replies
      1. re: StriperGuy

        Sardines? I love sardines but have never noticed them on the menu. Details, please!

        1. re: heathermb

          They don't have them all the time, but they do wonderful fresh grilled sardines. So tasty just with a bit of sea salt and pepper.

          They are even mentioned in this article about Sardines by Corby Kummer in The Atlantic:


      2. Not recently, but these are two I'd choose:

        Potato gnocchi with braised beef cheeks, green peppercorns, spinach and breadcrumbs 13
        Grilled merguez sausage with spiced yogurt sauce and pomegranate 9

        1. This is a great idea, as their starters are very nice. Be sure to get and enjoy the wonderful bread that they serve.
          By the way, Rendezvous has a great fixed price three course meal on Sunday nights that is a good bargain.

          1. Their charcuterie is always very good, as are the Rhode Island squid.

            1. Did a 3-person all-starters meal there a few weeks ago. Started with colder dishes, of which I liked the ceviche best. Be forewarned it comes in a spicy chili oil (good for me, bad for someone in my group). The middle eastern sampler was just meh. Scallops were exactly right. The squid with sausage was easily the star of the night, and the potato gnocchi with foraged mushrooms was probably second most liked at the table. I also loved the sardines, but one of the dining crew found them too strong...

              2 Replies
              1. re: wilbanks

                FYI - the swordfish kebab appetizer that I had there a few days ago was very good, but note that it the kitchen makes it "medium rare".

                1. re: wilbanks

                  I'll second the gnocchi and the scallops - absolutely fantastic. The salads were delicious too...

                2. Anyone have any experience with the charcuterie and/or the cheese plates? It's hard to pass either of those up, but if there are better options...

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                    Posted above about the charcuterie and I'm certain I've also had the cheese. Steve Johnson is responsible for "one perfect cheese" at the Blue Room and the selections are exquisite. But neither one of them is very big so bear that in mind if you're starving.

                    1. re: yumyum

                      Good to know, but we're going directly to a concert at the Y after, so I wouldn't want to feel too stuffed. We learned that the hard way having dinner at Picante before we saw the Circulatory System at the same venue earlier this week. Note: the "side nachos" at Picante are more than enough for two people.

                      1. re: yumyum

                        I have had both twice (always 3 cheese selection) and were I to choose, I would go for the cheese. I actually thought it was substantial for a opening course, the wait staff had good wine suggestions, and it was different both times (with at least one outstanding cheese). Whatever other little bits they added went well with the cheeses. The charcuterie plate I thought was good tasting, but I was a bit disappointed. Small portion, exactly the same both times, I love mortadella but wanted some kind of cured meat (at least bresola which they have offered). Or maybe sausages which they sometimes offer on the main menu (like duck three ways) which are excellent. Less presentation than other restaurants, brusque explanation of what was included. The figs, serrano ham, etc they have on the site now would draw me a lot more.

                        The other thing I would say is don't overlook dishes there that sound very simplistic -- I haven't had the current menu, but the bluefish cakes with cool cucumber salad comes to mind as something where you might say "eh bluefish, cucumber, I'll go for moroccan spices... etc." Some of their more subtle dishes are some of their better ones (I have had some great simple halibut and cod preparations) and some of the less subtle ones are ehh to me (for instance the paella they were doing for a while, a spicy shrimp dish which sounded great and wasn't). And I always loved with SJ did with citrus at the blue room, so I look out for citrus items their chef puts on the menu.

                        1. re: itaunas

                          Agreed on the simple fish dishes. Very good indeed.

                      2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                        I haven't had the charcuterie but I have had the cheese plate as dessert (after having a meal of starters) and I really enjoyed it. We were sitting at the bar when I did that but the bartender was enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the cheese which made it more fun.

                      3. The whole current app menu looks fabu, but I like to remind people that the veggie antipasto here is always worthwhile, and a good way to bring down the animal-fat payload.


                        1. Thanks to all for your excellent advice. We had a total of six dishes, which was perhaps one too many, although it was difficult afterwards to decide on one that we should have skipped.

                          We started with half a dozen oysters, the charcuterie plate, and a salad of Boston lettuce with apples, sharp cheddar cheese, dried cranberries, and spicy pecans. All were excellent; Barmy especially loved the salad, of simple but perfect and perfectly combined ingredients. The charcuterie included bresaola, mortadella, a terrific pate, duck rillettes, and...something else I never got clearly identified but it was delicious. Garnishes included cornichons, caper berries, olives, and a single fig (cut in half) which reminded both Barmy and me that while neither of us cares much for dried figs, fresh ones are lovely.

                          We moved on to the merguez sausage, the bluefish cakes, and the gnocchi. All three were outstanding. By the time we got to the gnocchi I was full and feared that I would only pick at the dish, but I found myself fighting Barmy for spoonful after spoonful.

                          Finished with the buttermilk pudding, which we hadn't expected to be a baked pudding and which was just as terrific as everyone says it is.

                          Sardines were not on the menu or I would surely have ordered them. Barmy insisted that I pick only one of the seafood offerings so I went with the bluefish cakes and did not regret the choice - they were fantastic.

                          One tiny off note: I should have gone with my first instinct and had a glass of wine. My cocktail, the Nehru, was the one thing I didn't actually care for. The menu said "saffron gin, lemon, cardamom" - the problem was that "lemon" meant a swath of lemon zest fully one inch by three, powerfully fragrant and interacting with the saffron-infused gin to create a rather medicinal taste. Oh well!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Allstonian

                            Yippee! And happy you chose the buttermilk pudding cake - maybe my favorite dessert in town.

                            1. re: yumyum

                              TASTY. I don't even like lemon desserts but that one rocks.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                In case you're interested in trying it yourself ... Steve has shared the lemon buttermilk pudding recipe in the past.

                                1. re: ohnofoodlovr

                                  Wow-- I had never even thought to ask. I would love to be able to make the pudding at home when the craving strikes and I can't get a babysitter. Definitely one of the most satisfying desserts around.

                                  1. re: whimsey

                                    If someone gets it, please share on the Home Cooking board. I never make dessert and rarely even EAT dessert but I would make an exception in this case.

                          2. didn't have an all starters meal but did have a great meal at rendezvous last night! we shared the scallops with butternut squash puree and the bluecakes for apps - both delicious, with the bluecakes really being amazing. i got the swordfish and dc got the steak - both really good and cooked perfectly. we also shared a bottle of beaujolais that was delicious as well - such a great atmosphere and really friendly service - i love this place!

                            502 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139