Monday, January 21, 2008

Rendezvous: Consistency is The Key

One of the keys to an excellent restaurant, a restaurant that rises above the rest is consistency. Consistency means that each and every visit is as good as the last. The quality does not diminish or vary over time. It is a restaurant where your expectations are met on every visit. Such consistency is a sure sign of excellence, that the entire restaurant works with synergy, that each individual component does its function and that all of those individual parts work well together.

Rendezvous in Central Square, Cambridge, is a restaurant of consistency, a place that continues to provide excellent food and service on each and every visit. I have been there numerous times and have reviewed Rendezvous a few times. My most recent visit has greatly pleased me again.

I began with the Ceviche of Scallop and Shrimp ($12), a new dish on their menu. Usually, I see ceviche served in a cocktail glass or similar glass, but this was just served on a flat plate. The presentation was nice though with the combination of seafood, chile oil, and fruits. The seafood tasted very good, with a spiciness that tingled my tongue. The little slices of what seemed like blood orange were sweet and delicious.

Next, I had the Boston lettuce salad with apples, cheddar cheese, spiced pecans and a cider vinaigrette ($10). This was quite a large salad with a big hunk of lettuce and plenty of the other ingredients. A great mix of flavors and for the price this is an excellent value.

As an entree, I just had another appetizer, the Potato gnocchi with braised oxtail, chantenay carrots and horseradish ($13). Their pasta dishes are usually very good and this was no different. Pillowy gnocchi with tender oxtail pieces in an interesting gravy. As an appetizer, this is still a decent-sized dish.

My her entree, my wife had the Gascon style duck 3 ways, which included grilled breast, confit leg and garlic sausage ($26). A large plate of so much tender and flavorful duck. The sausage was quite big and an interesting sweet taste to it. The breast and confit were meaty, with some crispy skin, and just melted in my mouth. It came atop a bunch of root veggies. This was an exceptional dish and I would strongly recommend it.

Rendezvous has an interesting wine list, usually including some very different wines. Their prices are generally reasonable and there are plenty of choices under $35. I wanted a lighter wine for the evening, maybe a Pinot Noir. But I was intrigued by the 2005 Ascheri "do ut des" Verduno Pelaverga, which our server stated was a light red wine. So I decided to take a chance on it.

The 2005 Ascheri "do ut des" Verduno Pelaverga ($36) is from the Verduno Pelaverga DOC in the Piedmont region. It is made from the Pelaverga varietal, a rare though ancient Italian grape. There are actually two different grapes, the Pelaverga Piccolo and the Pelaverga Nero. There are only around 9 hectares of Pelaverga vineyards, almost all in the small town of Verduno. I had never tried this grape before so I was intrigued.

This wine only had an alcohol content of 12.5%, a relatively lower alcohol wine compared to many others. The wine was very light red in color, lighter even than most Pinot Noir. Its nose seemed light at first, just a hint of berry. On the palate, this wine initially had a tartness to it that was a bit displeasing. But, as the wine sat for a time, and once we began to eat, the tartness largely vanished and we enjoyed the wine far more. So, I would suggest letting this wine breathe a bit first, as well as drinking it with food.

With our dinner, the wine displayed more red berry flavors with touches of black pepper and licorice. Though it also had its own unique taste, more of an interesting blend of sweet and sour. This was a light wine though clearly not a Pinot Noir. I did enjoy this wine and would try other Pelaverga wines. If you want something different, give this a try.

Service was excellent. Overall, this was another fine experience at Rendezvous. Great food, good quantities, reasonable prices. If you are in Central Square, this is the restaurant to seek out.

502 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA
Phone: 617-576-1900

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