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Say "au revoir" to Rendezvous

Well, all good things must come to an end. Boston Restaurant Talk reports that Steve Johnson is selling Rendezvous:
http://bostonrestaurants.blogspot.com...

Thanks to Steve for all the wonderful meals, both at Rendezvous and The Blue Room. I contend that his roast chicken with Morrocan spices during his tenure at The Blue Room was the best bird, ever. Hammersley's notwithstanding.

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      1. this was spoken about in the other Rendezvous thread as well, on march 10th

        1. Any chance we will get the Burger King back???

          3 Replies
            1. re: soylent_greens

              Pretty sure that before it was a Burger King it was a Jack in the Box. We could use one of those!

            2. Eh, I was getting tired of their menu anyway.

              From the linked article:

              "The new owners, Greg Reeves, (formerly of Upstairs on the Square, B&G Oyster/Butcher Shop and Green Street), and Mark Young of Green Street and Spoke Wine Bar are "excited about the opportunity of taking over a great restaurant in the lively Central Square neighborhood of Cambridge. We respect the business that Steve and his team have built, and are enthused about the challenge of filling some very big shoes." Reeves and Young are planning on using the existing wood-fired grill for a Mediterranean themed menu focused on local ingredients and housemade pastas. Beverages will focus on Old & New World wines, artisanal beer, and an in-depth cocktail program".

              42 Replies
              1. re: viperlush

                Seems as if the description of the new focus is becoming somewhat the new cookie cutter norm. Local ingredients and cocktail "program", you don't say? It's as if it is borrowing from a Mad Libs restaurant PR release. These terms are thrown around so much that they really don't mean much to me, as many places don't deliver on the promise.

                1. re: black_lab

                  you forgot to mention wood fired grill and house made pastas. Wow!

                  1. re: Madrid

                    eesh. the guys haven't even opened and already with the snark.

                    would you rather the press release touted all foods frozen from sysco and all drinks from an island oasis machine?

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Haha, yes, it is funny to throw the snark down before anything has even happened.

                      And yet, someone above said " I was getting tired of their menu anyway." Really? You're more tired of the Rendezvous menu than "Mediterranean themed menu focused on local ingredients and housemade pastas"??? C'mon.

                      And don't get me wrong. I love the Mediterranean region's foods, and pasta too, probably my favorite food type out there. But it's been done a million times over.

                      Sad to see Rendezvous go.

                      1. re: Alcachofa

                        Yes we were getting tired of their menu. The Boston lettuce salad with cheddar, cold seafood salad, Moroccan seared scallops, meatballs, oysters, lamb ribs, skate wing, cassoulet, steak frite, lemon pudding cake, etc. It seems like every time we eat there those dishes are on the menu. It feels like the drink menu also stayed the same. It got to the point where we would steer visitors to other restaurants. Rendezvous is good, but not so unique and some would argue not even the best in CS. It just seems like a Mediterranean region restaurant that will serve pasta is replacing another Mediterranean restaurant that sometimes served pasta. So as long as the food is good and the prices are similar, I'm good with Rendezvous leaving. And I'm willing to give the new place a chance.

                        1. re: viperlush

                          The menu was mostly but hardly entirely static. (The one time I found that the boston lettuce salad had been removed, I complained!) And I'm not sure why it needs to be the best restaurant in Central Square to be worthy of the accolades it earns here. Sure, many would argue that Craigie on Main is better; I personally prefer Rendezvous. But so what?

                          All of that said, I can understand one growing tired of it, just as one grows tired of most any restaurant. I don't go to Rendezvous as often as I once did. It's not that it's any less good, it's just that there are lots of other options out there.

                          Still, when someone is looking for a really good, upscale casual restaurant in the area, Rendezvous always is at the very top of my recommendation list.

                          1. re: Blumie

                            It's worthy of the accolades, and its also on the top of my recommendation list, but I'm willing to give the new place a chance. I see it as swapping out something old for new. It's not a bank, chain, or eyewear store. It's one upscale casual for another. I'd rather see a chef leave on their own terms and when the restaurant is still relevant than have the restaurant slowly decline.

                          2. re: viperlush

                            yeah, sure, but good luck with another place being as good as Rendezvous.

                            It was my post-gym, want to eat something fast and good, answer.

                            1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                              To me that sounds like a one star Yelp review from someone who hasn't actually eaten at the restaurant. Why not just give them a chance before saying that Rendezvous can't be replaced?

                              1. re: viperlush

                                i will give them a chance. Anything is possible.

                      2. re: Madrid

                        I, for one, will attend nightly for their generous offering of New AND Old World Wines.

                      3. re: black_lab

                        Rendezvous is good and will be missed, but it was also a restaurant that touted local ingredients and a cocktail program. Just seems like they will be replacing it with something similar. I don't think it will be changing much in the neighborhood.

                        1. re: viperlush

                          Except that Rendezvous was so consistently solid in what they were providing that any change is likely to be less of a resource. But I hope the new place will be reliable too.

                          1. re: Luther

                            I have the same hope about the new place, and also hope to try Steve's new place in RI.

                            The tapas menu on Mondays usually had/has something new and different from week to week, season to season. The old timers on the tapas menu I also looked forward to. The mini cassoulet appears week after week in winter, always wanted it.

                            I would have liked more variation in the desserts, but I don't eat dessert very often and love the cheese plate.

                            Steve was, and is, a pioneer. Also, they serve Iggy's bread. No reason to waste oven and staff time on making your own when that is so good.

                            Rendezvous going in to the Burger king spot must have been a big gamble for him. A transitional neighborhood. Salts was there before (I might be wrong), I'm not sure about Centro, the short-lived Italian place that became Tavern on the Square (I think).

                            1. re: Madrid

                              Tavern in the Square was a Good Life prior, for at least several years before Rendezvous.

                              When TiTS first opened the side space was branded differently (Wish, I think?) which failed. They turned that into Centro later on and then canned it altogether.

                              I lived in the 'hood at the time (for several years on either side of the opening) and knew people who wouldn't go to Rendezvous due to it having been a BK. Silly, but people did hold it against him.

                              1. re: Madrid

                                The first higher-end place I remember thinking "Wow, that's a gamble in Central Square" about was Central Kitchen. That was probably late 90s? I don't remember how long Salts has been around.

                                1. re: dfan

                                  although not really high-end, cuchi-cuchi was definitely in the boonies back when it opened. am pretty sure it pre-dates both salts and rendezvous.

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    It definitely predates Rendezvous in that I remember it opening.

                                2. re: Madrid

                                  I believe Salts was on Main Street, near Toscanini's, not on Mass. Ave. where Rendezvous is.

                                  1. re: Stride

                                    yes Salts is and always was, still is, on Main St, but still in the neighborhood of Rendezvous. Right across now from Craigie on Main, and yes, near Cuchi Cuchi as well as a Bertucci's outpost.

                                    1. re: Stride

                                      I was confused by that statement as well, but I think that Madrid means that Salts was in existence (still is, for that matter) before Rendezvous opened.

                                      I'm racking my mind to remember the name of the restaurant that was in the Salts space on Main street before Salts was there. They moved to the Lenox Hotel in Boston, in the space that's now City Table. Also a pretty upscale restaurant, back when Central Square was still kind of sketchy, never mind "transitional neighborhood."

                                      1. re: Allstonian

                                        Yes, Thanks, Allstonian, what I meant was that Salts was perhaps the first upscale restaurant in the neighborhood of Central square. I went to their site but couldn't find the date they opened.

                                        I can't remember either what was in that space before Salts. But I have a vague memory of something similarly upscale-ish.

                                        not quite the same neighborhood, but it was a huge deal when Legal Seafood moved into Kendall. There used to be a Daily Catch early on there as well. Times have changed so much.

                                        I was trying to say that Rendezvous helped change the neighborhood around Central near the river and that it must have been a big gamble for Steve.

                                        1. re: Madrid

                                          Thanks for the clarification and sorry misunderstanding!

                                          1. re: Stride

                                            Prior to Salts, the space on Main Street was Panache, which was cutting edge at the time (and to this hound, much better than Salts). I recall having to deliver a check in advance for a party of four at Panache. For a bit of interesting history see
                                            http://events.nytimes.com/mem/nycrevi...

                                            Google "Bruce Frankel Boston chef" for more history.

                                            1. re: MaxEntropy

                                              yep, bruce was quite the talented guy.(Where IS he now?) And even before Panache, across the street was la Groceria (in Craigie's spot), a fav Italian place with delicious food in the '70's/'80's. During the same era there was Royal East? next to Panache and Mary Chung's (across the street from where it is now.) I don't think cuchi cuchi showed up til post 2000.

                                          2. re: Madrid

                                            Salts has morphed from Panache to 798 Main to Anago Bistro and finally Salts. We have dined there in every iteration ( age has it's privilege) and if I recall correctly it has been a husband and wife team since 798 Main. Sadly Salts remains closed post water pipe burst. Let's hope they recover. We will sorely miss Steve. When he was Chef at BR we ate there once a week at least and now visit Rendezvous once or twice a month. Can't tell you how many Steve roasted chickens I have consumed. Suspect Scott will have no trouble landing a new bar position. He's terrific. Sad development for us but congratulations to Steve for job very well done.

                                            1. re: Capeannetoo

                                              Thanks for the refresher! I think 798 Main was still owned by Frankel? Guessing you might be a Polaroid alum?

                                              1. re: MaxEntropy

                                                Not Polaroid alum. Just hungry Bostonian who will travel for great food!

                                                1. re: Capeannetoo

                                                  Amen to that! It's been a fascinating ride.

                                              2. re: Capeannetoo

                                                Panache was there from the early 1980s. It was a gem in an otherwise dodgy area. Bertucci's ("Pizza and Bocce", remember that?) was also around then, and Toscanini's just down the street closer to Mass Ave. I think there was also a nightclub called "Butch's" next to Bertucci's but my memory fails me.

                                                Panache was my go-to place to go on dates with the ladies for the "closing" dinner. After working the "account" for a while, it would be time to close the deal, so to speak. Panache always put them in a good mood for that.

                                                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                  The nightclub was called "Nighstage".

                                                  1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                    Right. Its empty shell stood there for a loooooong time

                                                    1. re: Uncle Yabai

                                                      I saw so many great shows at Nightstage! Robyn Hitchcock, Jonathan Richman, Naked City are the ones that stand out. I miss that place.

                                                      That Bertucci's is still there.

                                                      1. re: dfan

                                                        Loved NIghtstage! I also saw some great shows there over the years.

                                                        1. re: kimfair1

                                                          Robben Ford, and David Lindley while tripping!

                                                          There were a couple of years there whoever was booking Nightstage was a genius.

                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                  Yes, see Capeanntoo's rundown above. I remember lovely dinners at Panache and 798 Main, but have never been to either of the more recent iterations.

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                    yes , anago moved to the lenox in 1997- closed 2002(?)-
                                                    susan finegold and bob calderone moved to cape cod
                                                    they owned anago bistro( in cambridge ) previous to that and bob was in the kitchen at panache& 798 main ( restaurants)
                                                    salts has had 2 different owners--- steve rosen and his wife lisa mandy--- they bought if from bob & susan. ( when anago bistro moved to the lenox)- then the rosens sold it to gabe and analia( cant remember their last names) current owners. we are friendly with bob and sue .

                                                  2. re: Allstonian

                                                    Oops, didn't read the rest of the sub-thread

                                                    1. re: Allstonian

                                                      Somehow, Rendezvous seemed riskier, taking over that horrible Burger "Drug Depot" King in the heart of the Square, than the nearby Main Street restaurants.

                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                      1. re: Allstonian

                                                        Was it Italian?

                                                        Did it turn into a lesbian disco?

                                          3. Not sure why anyone would scare-quote "programs", it's a longstanding industry usage. But I happen to think that new, independent restaurants getting serious about craft cocktails instead of just mouthing the words about them, pulling together more interesting, affordable wine lists based on less-seen bottlings, and assembling nerdy, small-producer beer lists is maybe the best trend of the last year or so.

                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              agreed. beer selections around have improved dramatically. wines by the glass, less so. am wearied by the omnipresence of crap like mark west pinot noir and oyster bay sauv blanc. but inroads are being made by places like west bridge and area 4.

                                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                For me, the best thing is serious cocktail programs. After Eastern Standard and Drink made their splashes, there was a period where one place after another trumpeted doing craft cocktails, but in execution were an insult to the concept. Sorta feels like far fewer new places are trying to get away with that bullshit anymore.

                                                So many indie places that are taking the cocktail game very seriously have opened in the last 18 months: Kirkland, Ribelle, Fairsted, Merrill, Sycamore, Steel & Rye, Audubon, Pastoral, Wink & Nod (despite the obnoxious marketing), Alden, Sarma, Bronwyn, Tavern Road. This is a Very Good Drinking Moment for restaurant-goers.

                                                I don't want to say, "Without a good cocktail program, the place sucks", but it feels like restaurateurs are increasingly hewing to that standard, and I'm thrilled by it.

                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                              2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                I am like, so sure, that the cocktails are hand-crafted. "Oh wait, I think I'm gonna throw up, no, nevermind, I'm fine. Let me take another selfie."

                                              3. Good riddance. Always was a "meh" experience from their service (bar) to their small plates.

                                                13 Replies
                                                  1. re: Unfoodie

                                                    whenever i went Rendezvous was busy; it was a good neighborhood place. Steve must have been making good money from what i saw. It had a good following.

                                                    1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                      I don't think you can draw any conclusions about profitability based on Rendezvous's strong following. Not too many people are getting rich in this business.

                                                      1. re: Blumie

                                                        After a long time in the business money isn't always one's major motivation. There is such a thing as quality of life.

                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                          yeahhhhhh- you mean the quality of life of being an artist and running your own show, yes? or were you referring to the quality of life where you work 18 hour days, 130 hour weeks, and never see your kids or partner?

                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                            the perception of chef as artist is romantic but it's a back-breaking grind, even when it's your own show.

                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                              Steve Johnson seemed to be the chef the way Von Gericthen is the chef at Jean-Georges; a sous chef once told me that he once saw J-G cut a bagle in the kitchen - that was the limit of his cooking.

                                                              Still, owners need to be there to make sure that everything is going well. It is not a simple task.

                                                              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                he was certainly all over the place there last Saturday night

                                                                1. re: L2k

                                                                  he's been all over the place every time I've been there.

                                                                2. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                  chef/owners are rarely at the stove during service. that's what line cooks are for.

                                                                  have worked for some of boston's best and they do not "cook" during service. they will show cooks the dish during prep, if need be, but for the most part they are either expediting or dealing with foh.

                                                                  have worked events where jean-georges was a guest-chef. he cooked. brilliantly. he also owns upwards of 20 restaurants. do people really think he's the one sauteeing their skate?

                                                                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                    The comment clearly reflects a misunderstanding as to how a restaurant kitchen operates.

                                                      2. Was there last night and it was packed...confirmed closing end of June.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: Madrid

                                                          I hope Scott Holliday finds a new happy home soon. One of my favorite reasons to visit Rendezvous over the years.

                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                            when i was there last week he said he hopes to basically take the summer off. am sure he'll have no trouble landing a new gig.

                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                              He's got his next gig lined up.

                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                  You can google it, it's on a Boston food website