I have quite an extensive list of places I need to try out. When Improper Bostonian comes out with its annual 'Best of' edition with hundreds of amazing sounding places, I only get more antsy to experience all of what Boston has to offer. After an initial plan to check out T.W Foods, a foodie hot spot and a top priority on my list, a group of restaurant enthusiasts and myself opted for a trip to Rendezvous instead. (Lucky for me, this place was also on my list.)
As far as expectations go, I had a pretty clean slate. I figured it was a French restaurant just from the name, but it is actually a fusion of different food cultures ranging from North Africa to Italy and some French. It's an intriguing mix and not the easiest thing to pull off.
We tried most of everything on the menu and although some dishes were a great success, there were some little details which could hugely improve both the dishes and the experience. Here are the ratings from the evening:
On the whole, their appetizers were quite strong. A charcuterie board was an in-house success with terrines, lardo and accompanients that each held their own.
Their vegetarian antipasto was less spectacular, but I still enjoyed the fresh vegetables (Rendezvous endorses the farm-to-table movement) and mediterranean spreads. With both dishes however, I would have liked to see better presentation; an actual board was have served as a more authentic and rustic support for the offerings.
Also on the list of successful appetizers was the 'Little Lasgna of Swiss Chard' complete with salsa verde, fresh ricotta and salted almonds. I was impressed by the pasta itself and the blend of ingredients made for a surprisingly light take on such a traditionally meaty dish.
The chicken livers received mixed reviews. I personally enjoyed the dish as a whole, particularly the different textures in the liver. My fellow diners thought the mustard greens and bacon were the dish's true saving grace.
Their seared scallop, gnocchi and turkish pizza were standard and forgettable...I suppose you can't have all your appetizers be winners...or can you?
Moving on to the entrées, we had less success. The only dish we all agreed was a hit was their Duck Prepared in Three Ways: sliced breast, garlic sausage (major crowd pleaser) and confit leg. Other than that, we had very poorly presented Bollito Misto (Italian dish of boiled mixed vegetables - pictured above). As you can tell, the dish is really not up to par with restaurant presentation.
Where the Bollito lacked in presentation, the Crispy Chicken lacked in gusto, as did the Bluefish Fillet.
The Rendezvous cheeseburger, which had to be sent back once because it was initially over-cooked was actually very good. The meat itself was juicy and rich, the bacon - as always - a delicious addition and the vermont cheddar cut in splendidly.
At this point, we had an average performance on our hands. Unfortunately (and unforgivably in my opinion), the desserts, an integral part of any restaurant experience, were disappointing.
We ordered all of them and the only one that had anything going for it was the Lemon-Buttermilk pudding. The Polenta-Olive Oil Cake seemed overcooked and quite unsavory and the Chocolate Cake was far too weak for my taste.
As a summary it seems that what Rendezvous does in house is done very well, there just needs to be more consistency throughout the menu. You can't have one knock-out dish followed by one obscured in mediocrity.
Much of the experience could have benefitted from a slightly more committed waitress who actually invested an interest in both the diners as well as the menu items.
I would go back, but only the appetizers pass the qualtiy/price ratio I try to adhere to.