A journey from a love affair with processed foods to a love affair with cheese.
A month or two ago a new cafe opened up right across the street from where we live. Actually, for the past several years, there’d been a cafe/bakery there – Cafe Hafuch and then French and then Cafe Hafuch again – and in all that time I think I bought rugelach there once. But when Rendez-Vous opened, I felt compelled to check it out for some reason, maybe a premature nostalgia for the neighborhood we are moving away from in a few days, maybe a cautious optimism that this cafe might actually be good.
AB and I decided that we’d try it before we move, and earlier this week when we just didn’t have the energy for cooking dinner we decided the time had come.
Rendez-Vous is, not surprisingly, given the name, the locale, and the neighborhood, owned by French people. All the waiters seem to be French-speaking, and all the patrons aside from us were French as well. The menus were available in Hebrew, French, and English (though the latter turned out to be a weird patois of English and French). The atmosphere is charming, with warm red walls, framed pictures on the walls, and a decent soundtrack.
I wasn’t really expecting the cafe to serve fine French cuisine, but I admit I was a bit disappointed when the menu turned out to be salads, sandwiches, and pizzas. Kinda boring looking. Still, we combed through and identified a few things that sounded appetizing. Upon ordering, we were told that sandwiches were not available for dinner (which was not noted anywhere on the menu), but in the end we ordered a three-cheese pizza (substituting onions for olives – every single pizza came with olives) and a chef’s salad.
Like I said, I wasn’t expecting much, which made what happened next all the more sweeter. What happened was that our pizza turned out to be brick oven pizza and the chef’s salad arrived as a deconstructed beauty.
I have been wanting to find brick oven pizza in this city for years, and here it was. The pizza itself was pretty good – mozzarella, blue cheese, goat cheese, and onions – though a little on the rich side, but the dough was unbelievable.
The salad was presented as a giant piece of camembert on toast surrounded by piles of very garlicky tomatoes, herbed boiled potatoes, steamed green beans, carmelized onions, and a pot of honey. I would say that the parts were greater than the sum of the whole and that the camembert crown jewel was actually a bit plain. Still though, we were pleasantly surprised.
As we were eating, we noticed that all the other tables had peanuts on them. I was a little sad that our table was somehow overlooked, but in general I think it’s a cute touch.
All in all, I think we enjoyed it in part because we had such low expectations, but the food was decent, the prices right (our bill came to 110 shekel), and I love that they have a brick oven. I wouldn’t go out of my way for it, but it is a good neighborhood joint. If they can manage to get more non-French through the doors, they might actually have a chance of succeeding. (I just don’t think there are enough French to sustain them. On the other hand, see the cat ring delicatessen on Derech Beit Lechem, which has made it a few years already despite being always empty.)