Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Dinner @ Le Rendezvous


mikec
 Share

Recommended Posts

I’m still getting used to living in New Jersey.  The differences between an apartment in New York City and a house in suburban New Jersey are vast.  One of the positive things about New Jersey is the abundance of good restaurants that don’t have liquor licenses and thus encourage customers to bring their own wine.

With all the craziness in our lives (move, pregnancy, etc.) we never seem to be able to make firm plans for dinner.  Often we’ve decided to go out at the last minute and many places that we want to try are booked.  We seem to end up eating at the same few places in our town.  Don’t get me wrong, the meals are always good, but a little variety doesn’t hurt.

This past Saturday we went to a French bistro called Le Rendez Vous.  We had been told that the food here was very good, one of the better places in New Jersey.  Coming from the foodie heaven also known as Manhattan we were a bit skeptical.  Le Rendez Vous is tiny.  The restaurant seats about 25-30 people at most.  It has a very comfortable feel to it.  I believe that the owners are the front room staff.

After we sat down and perused the menu we were brought a small amuse bouche from the chef.  It was a small crostini topped with tuna pate made with Thai spices.  It tasted wonderful.  I was actually surprised how well the differing tastes married together.  

For an appetizer Allison had a house salad with shallot vinaigrette.  The vinaigrette was a bit heavy on the garlic, but that’s about the only misstep the kitchen made all night.  I had a frisee salad dressed with raspberry vinaigrette and served over duck prosciutto.   I normally don’t like frisee because of the bitterness.  This salad’s bitterness was nicely balanced by the sweetness of the vinaigrette.  Plus how could you go wrong with any kind of prosciutto?

While our appetizers were very good, the entrees really stood out.  Allison wanted the salt crusted salmon over risotto, but they had just served their last portion.  Instead she got the cod with black trumpet mushrooms served with a leek and potato gratin.  The cod was perfectly cooked, seared on the outside while the inside remained moist.  The mushrooms added a very earthy component to the dish.  I was torn between the duck served two ways (seared breast with confit leg) and the rabbit civet served with cocoa tagliatelle and chanterelles.  I ended up with the rabbit since I had duck as part of my appetizer.  The rabbit was cooked perfectly, but the really interesting part was the cocoa tagliatelle.  It didn’t taste sweet or chocolatey, but it had a rich taste that I find hard to put into words.  My entrée was truly outstanding.  

To complement this meal I brought the 1994 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape.  Even though the 94 vintage is hardly old when talking about Beaucastel, it is always revealing when trying a wine with some age to it along with food.  I wanted to bring a good bottle of wine for this meal, and having had an incredible run of bad luck with corked wines I brought the 1998 Coudelet de Beaucastel Cote du Rhone as a backup.  Luckily the Coudelet was not needed this night.  

The wine was a medium purple color with plums, prunes, and a touch of barnyard courtesy of the high percentage of Mourvedre.  The initial glass showed the wine to be wide open for business with the barnyard only playing a small part, yet adding some complexity to the mix.  The plums that were evident on the nose showed in the palate along with a pronounced earthiness.  The second glass showed a touch more closed and the third glass was open once again.  I finished the bottle the next night and it was just singing in the glass.  If I had more of these I would suggest holding them for another two years and then drinking them over the next ten.  It was simply a wonderful wine that was the perfect complement to a great meal.  

Last night I wanted another glass of wine and opened the 2000 “The Fifteen” Grenache VdP.  Although I had previously enjoyed a bottle of this wine I didn’t like it very much last night.  However, I think that it’s my fault since the wine was out of context.  It was very bright with an overt perfumed nose that just was all wrong after having the mellower Beaucastel.  I look forward to trying it again tonight.

FWIW, during our meal on Saturday I noticed that there were several people drinking very nice wines like Leoville Poyferre and several other Bordeaux.  However I could help from giggling when the table next to us opened up the current vintage of Marilyn Merlot.  The had an animated discussion about how cute the name was and then proceeded to put spoonfuls of ice in their wine.  I often thought things like this were urban legend, but now I’m a believer. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great post Mickec. Can you tell us where this restaurant is located? By the way, coming from a supposedly iffy year in the So. Rhone the 94 Beaucastel is a wonderful wine. I'm glad that you enjoyed it.

Hank

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Le Rendez-Vous, 520 Boulevard, Kenilworth  908-931-0888

Glad to hear about your wonderful dinner.  The last time we were there the owners were away on vacation and we were not thrilled with our meal. We certainly will go back  after reading your report. Thanks.

Rosalie Saferstein, aka "Rosie"

TABLE HOPPING WITH ROSIE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hank & Rosie:

I firmly believe in producer over vintage.  1994 wasn't that bad a year in the Rhone (north or south).  It was however, quickly overshadowed by the great 1995 vintage.  The 94 Beaucastel is a very good wine that won't live up to the 95, but surpasses the 91, 92, 93, 96, & 97.  All of this is MHO of course.  I've had very good bottles of 94 Chateauneuf du Pape from Fortia, Charvin, Vieux Telegraphe, Clos des Papes and a few others.  

This was my first time at this restaurant.  I was very pleased with the food and the atmosphere.  I also found the staff to be very friendly and helpful even though they seemed a bit harried.  

Even though I've had many very good meals in NJ, it's not often that I can say that a NJ meal has surpassed many of my experiences in NYC.  Some of the wonderful things about NJ dining are the BYOB policies and the fact that you can find very good food at bargain prices.  Le Rendez-Vous had wonderful food, a pleasant staff, and even a nice looking room.

I have a few other places to try on my list including Jocelyn's, Ver Jus, and a few of the big names in Montclair.  Hopefully I will find more experiences like this one.

Take care,

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have an anniversary coming up soon.  We usually go out (just the two of us) and then go out again with our family.  I think that we will be going to Jocelyne's with our family.  My Mother-In-Law is taking care of the reservations.  She's a great planner so I have no doubt that we've had reservations for months. :)  Still trying to decide where to go for just the two of us.  It will definitely be in NYC and right now I'm torn between a couple of places.

I've heard positive things about Ver Jus, but I've only heard it from one source and also the review in the NYT.  No specific places in mind for Montclair although I'd like to try 28.  Had a problem with the reservation (or lack there of) last summer when we tried to go.  I've eaten at Taro and thought it to be very good.  I loved Orbis.  We have some very close friends who live in Montclair and we usually just let them pick the place.

Take care,

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...