The Rendezvous Restaurant is NOT a place to go if you have to make the theatre, catch a plane, or are into fast-food… but since I don’t think any of these even exist in Fort Bragg, California, prepare yourself for an incredible experience in leisure dining.
When we arrived on a quiet Sunday night, there was only one other couple there, so we got a chance to spend some time chatting with the talented chef/owner, Kim Badenhop. It all started about 20 years ago. Kim was working by day as a mild-mannered Merrill Lynch-er, and then rush off to don his whites taking night classes at the New York Restaurant School. It soon became apparent that the highlight of his business trips to Geneva, Switzerland, was dining in Michelin starred restaurants. So Kim threw in the corporate towel and spent the next few years staging and learning everything he could about French food and wine.
The cuisine at Rendezvous reflects his passion and dedication by offering hearty seasonal French cuisine, not often seen on American menus, due to the how labor intensive these dishes are. The menu makes for interesting, and educational reading (which should be done while sipping the house-made apricot or huckleberry aperitif), starting with:
“Inspired by a smoked goat cheese salad at a restaurant in Pouilly-sur-Loire featuring the local Crottin de Chavignol, we offer fresh Laura Chenel goat cheese smoked lightlly over grapevine cuttings, served warm with toasted walnuts on greens dressed with our mustard-herb vinaigrette.” And it tasted even better than it read….
The coastal evenings can get quite chilly, so we were in the right mood for the comfort food that Kim brought us.
The Kobe-Style Boneless Beef Short Ribs, had definitely been braising overnight in its cabernet reduction to achieve such intense flavor. The clever trio of root vegetable purees and sage polenta croquettes provided the perfect play in color and textures. And the succulent “Poulet au Vinaigre” could have been the poster child for Ruth Reichl’s book, Tender at the Bone.
My only mistake was getting so relaxed that I forgot to pre-order the passion-fruit souffle with creme anglaise sauce. Shoot — as a good reporter, I guess I’ll just have to go back.
Rendezvous Inn & Restaurant
A: 647 N. Main Sat., Fort Bragg, Ca. 95437
By Vagablond’s Token Redhead.