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Great meal at Rendezvous

Was in Cambridge last night and dined at Rendezvous. Happy to say that the place had a nice crowd. I had such a great meal that I just wanted to post about it, so CH'ers will keep this place in mind.
Delicious roasted chicken with morels; also tried their roasted orchiette pasta with lamb/pork meatballs.
Wine selection by the glass was great; as was the service.
I keep asking myself: why don't I go to this place more often? I can't wait to go back.

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Rendezvous
502 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. Rendezvous! Thanks for reminding me about that place -- I was just thinking of where I should go for my birthday dinner, since my former "special occasion places" have gone away (Craigie Street Bistro and L'Espalier -- still great restaurants, but I just don't love them in their new locations). Rendezvous is perfect -- wonderful food and cocktails, intimate setting but not so fancy that you feel like you have to dress up.

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    L'Espalier
    774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

    1. We've also liked it! Good service. We also sat at the bar once which was enjoyable.

      1. One of my favorites, and where I'm taking chowmom for Mother's Day.

        1 Reply
        1. re: yumyum

          Not gonna call her yummy mummy?

        2. Ate at Rendezvous last Sunday. They really do have delicious food and wonderful service.

          1. Don't forget that every Monday is tapas night. We went a couple months ago and the food was great (and cheap).

            2 Replies
            1. re: dfan

              Or their prix fixe deal on Sundays - app, entree & dessert for $40 (or is it $39). Can't top that! And the same menu as you get on the weekdays.

              One of my favorite restaurants as well.

              1. re: kobuta

                Sunday prix fixe is $38.

            2. Rendezvous' Steve Johnson made it on to this years' James Beard Award's list of top chefs in the Northeast.

              Definitely enjoy eating there.

              1. MR and I wandered up to Rendezvous on Friday night around 8:30. We didn't have a reservation and thought we'd just wait for something to open up at the bar. It turns out more folks are interested in grabbing a seat at the bar at that time so we ended up in a booth with only a 10 minute wait.

                Started the night out with a very tasty cocktail called the mint and cucumber. It contained those two things along with some gin and I imagine some simple syrup.... Really delicious. Perfect for this warm weather. MR had a boutonniere which he liked but to be honest, mine was so good I really don't remember his.

                MR had the skate wing with brussel sprouts and pine nuts. The waiter gave him little tip on eating it since he hadn't had it before. Nice touch without being to overbearing. I had the arugula salad with shaved fennel and anchovy dressing and the maine crab cakes with Berber spices and fresh pea puree. Those crab cakes were fantastic!

                The desserts looked great at Rendezvous but it had been so long since I had a cone of toscanini's ice cream that I went there for dessert instead. Glad I did. Had a delicious cone of B3 (that's supposed to be "cubed"): brown sugar, brown butter, and brownies. Yum!

                1. Add my voice to the chorus praising this underrated restaurant. I'll be reserved until after multiple trips but the one time I went I thought it was excellent. I also recall the service being great, as I asked which salad greens were local and our server stopped, checked, and returned with a thorough report. I was glad I asked because I had an excellent salad of very fresh and vibrant greens. I also had the toasted orecchiette with meatballs, which was really tasty. The only thing I recall disliking were the fries with the "steak frite," which if I recall correctly were oven fries. Also had a nice cocktail and a tasty glass of red.

                  1. Beyond the food, I always like to note that there's some great, underrated bartending going on at Rendezvous, too. I included them in a feature I did for Stuff Magazine a few months back on Cynar cocktails.

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      Something else about their bartending is that they have a couple of interesting non-alcoholic cocktails on their drink menu. While of course you can make many standard cocktails without the booze, it's nice to not have to specify that at a bar.

                      My father-in-law is 20 years sober, and when he went here, I know he really appreciated this.

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        Do they have their own drink menu, and if so does it include non-fauxtini type of things? It's been a really long time since I've eaten there and can't remember. When I'm dealing with waitstaff instead of sitting at the bar of a place I prefer to stick to drinks that are on the menu as it just seems to make life easier - bartenders know to ask or expect to be told various modifiers that not all waitstaff are as hip to.

                        1. re: jgg13

                          Bar manager Scott Holliday is definitely working the Golden Age side of the street: here's his current specialty cocktail menu: http://www.rendezvouscentralsquare.co... He is firmly rooted in the classics and always working on something new and original. He's not as flashy as some of the better-known craft bartenders, but he is clearly a scholar, a dead-serious pro -- up there in the top echelon, in my book.

                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            Heh, I suppose I could have looked at their site :)

                            I would never have thought of rendezvous in terms of good bartending except that he keeps getting a good mention in the cocktailvirgin blog. For some reason I just never up in there, although we keep talking about popping in for the sunday night prix fixe

                            1. re: jgg13

                              Scott Holliday does get good marks in my book. Between his service, his appreciation of the classics, and his the new drinks with an old aesthetic to them, he definitely deserves the credit. I have two more drinks to write up from our visit this week (off of their cocktail notebook, not their cocktail menu which has been somewhat static for a bit).

                              Lauren Clarke on DrinkBoston has written many good things about him through out the years from his days at Chez Henri to his days at Rendezvous.

                              http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

                      2. Glad to hear that Rendezvous is as good as ever. We are going tonight. My friend lives in the neighborhood and loves their basil gimlets.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                          They really nail the skate, if that's your thing. And don't forget the lemon buttermilk huckleberry dessert. Swoony.

                        2. Went to Rendezvous over the weekend before seeing a play at the Central Square Theater. I had a great meal and experience taking some tips from this thread, so I thought I would share.

                          I asked for a cocktail with Cynar and ended up choosing a Little Giuseppe from a few options. The bartender (presumably Scott) said he stole the recipe from Drink. It combined Cynar and Punt e Mes and was tasty with some interesting flavors.

                          When we told the server that we were seeing a show at the Central Square Theater, she told us that we could do the three course prix fixe for $38 which I think we all ended up doing because it was such a good deal.

                          The tomato salad appetizer had some surprising spiciness and was excellent. I had bluefish which had a nice sear. For dessert, the lemon buttermilk huckleberry was indeed delicious, although I was surprised that it was almost more like an angel food cake than a pudding. The apple crostada with ice cream was also nice.

                          All in all, I liked the restaurant much better than I remembered, and definitely would go back soon. The bartending was also as good as advertised, making this a good choice for either dinner or drinks for me.

                          1. Just want to add my praise to Rendezvous. I have been there several times over the last year, and never once was I disappointed. The food and the service have always been consistently good. They have the best oysters on the half shell in town. Wine selection is always good, and fantastic bartending. The lemon buttermilk pudding with huckleberry sauce is not to be missed.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: onthehalfshell

                              I'm a huge fan of this place (I gave it another Stuff Magazine Dining Award this year), and it always warms my heart to see props for Scott Holliday's bartending: he's just low-key enough to eschew the spotlight, and consequently he's one of the more underrated / underappreciated bartenders in town.

                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                            2. I will add to the pile of kudos for Rendezvous. I am pleased and surprised every time I dine there. In comparison to it's neighbor Craigie it wins every time in my mind due to some key factors:

                              Friendly and unpretentious service across the board. I am actually privileged to dine there, rather than made to feel that way by the staff.

                              A wine list that is well selected and fairly priced, unlike Craigie which has an outrageous markup.

                              Truly memorable food that stands out in my mind. While I have had plenty of good meals at Craigie, I have to think a bit harder to remember what made them so.

                              Lack of ironic facial hair at Rendezvous also helps me to keep from wondering when that lapse in fashion judgment will be over.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: suzysue2

                                I actually don't care if my server or bartender looks like one of the Smith Bros. or Chester A. Arthur, as long as they make me feel well cared for. I agree that outside of the bar staff, the Craigie server gang is a little full of itself, which makes me shun the dining room.

                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  After writing this I had to go back there last night. The pork and veal meatballs with crunchy orecchiette were out of control. The ultra-flavorful broth against the pasta that received the perfect flip in a hot pan to give it a delicate crunch and the meatballs themselves, which could have stood alone they were so good, will be seared into my memory. My poor BF nearly lost a hand trying to get his share of the dish...

                                  There is a bartender who is so sweet at Craigie and remembers our names every time we go in and we always forget his, oops. He was nice enough to squeeze a glass of blood orange juice for my BF at brunch one time.

                              2. Have to join the chorus and say we had an awesome dinner at Rendezvous - innovative, delicious cocktails (Scott wasn't working but was credited with the creations) followed by amazing blue fish cake appetizer, classic roasted chicken, spicy thai curry seafood and noodles, and that mind-blowing lemon buttermilk pudding with huckleberry sauce. Our server was great and well-informed about the food with helpful opinions and suggestions (including a GREAT call on a dessert wine vs. cocktail after dinner). Owner Steve checked in with us several times and warmly offered to share the chicken, blue fish and cocktail recipes via email follow-up.

                                Rendezvous is moving into far more frequent rotation for us.

                                1. I'll pile on my praise as well. Had some really tasty duck sausage gnocchi to start, then two perfectly cooked mains - I had the steak and my wife had the pork chop. Both were simple but full of flavor. The pork was especially good since I know how challenging it can be these days to get pork with any sort of flavor. We'll definitely be going back.

                                  1. you are talking about my favorite restaurant. If I could afford it. I'd eat there every night.
                                    Steve Johnson.owner/chef is so personable. I see him every Monday, in season , at out local farmers' market. In summer he grows his herbs on the roof. Recently, The NY Times did a feature story about him, showing him on his boat in Westport where he catches seafood for his restaurant. He is one of the few great local chefs who is really hands on and always
                                    there for his customers and he doesn't seek publicity..
                                    Now you know what to give me for christmas :)

                                    1. Just to let you all know, Steve hosted a $25 a person lunch to celebrate his fine year anniversary. The entire cost of the meal, including tips, went to Food for Free, a Cambridge non-profit that "gleans" produce from local markets and delivers them to local food pantries. I'm on the board of Food for Free. I also want you to know that in 2010 we expect to deliver over 1 million pounds of food with a budget of $265,000

                                      1. Hadn't been to Rendezvous in a little while, and I'm kicking myself fo not going more often. We went before thetheater last night, and ate off regular menu (they did have a $38 3 course pre-theater prix fix). We shared a plate of 6 oysters, with horseradish mignonette, and what can only be described by me as a cucumber granita. Delish. Next we had apps of asparagus salad with olive oil poached egg (divine, and I'm a sucker for egg dishes), and the gnocchi with braised oxtail. Both fantastic. For entrees we had the veal and beef meatballs with toasted orchiette (my wife), and I had the duck three ways (breast, leg confit, and suasage) over a bed of cabbage, white beans, and sauce. Both were realy great. Finished with a vanilla panna cotta with fresh local strawberries. Great cocktails as well, with one that used a saffron infused gin, and a scotch based Moscow Mule with house made ginger beer. All in all a great night, and I'll have to remember to recommend it to folks in the future.