French 101

Le Rendezvous offers a respite from the flashy and the fancy

There were other things on the menu that didn't require much chef meddling. Scottish smoked salmon, an array of thick, rust-colored sheets of fish fanned near one edge of the plate, was rich with understated wisps of smoke. Nestled near the smoke-stained edges were little tufts of minced egg white and yolk, capers and La Font's celery root salad, this time with specks of tomato appearing with the caper nubs.

The thing that was startling about the fricassee of seafood was the prolific bulges of succulent pieces of lobster, shrimp, mussels, salmon and snapper in the pool of cardamom broth that formed the backdrop to this dish. The broth flavors were clean, almost inconspicuous, providing a ghostly framework to the dish. Yet, at the same time, this backdrop had oomph to enhance.

Grilled Peking duck breast was a group of oval slices of meat fanned in the middle of the plate. The meat was juicy and rich, stained with a dark grand veneur sauce that had just enough transparency to let the duck flavors come through. Also on the plate was a small bright green dollop of spinach mousse, which proved a little dry and chewy.

Le Rendezvous is as straight and narrow as a French kiss. And the lobster martini is just as wet.
Stephen P. Karlisch
Le Rendezvous is as straight and narrow as a French kiss. And the lobster martini is just as wet.

Details

214-739-6206. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. $$$

Terrine of pheasant: $8.50
Onion soup: $5.95
Lobster martini: $10.50
Smoked salmon: $9.50
Vichyssoise: $6.90
Fricassee of seafood: $19.50
Peking duck: $21
Veal chop: $30
Gratin of berries: $7.50

Closed Location

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Dessert was simple but flawlessly executed. Gratin of berries featured fresh assorted berries snuggled in crème anglaise with a thin brittle crème brûlée-like crust over the top.

The wine list is manageable and varied, but the by-the-glass selections--chardonnay, cabernet and merlot--make this part of the list stunted and mundane. This food demands more breadth, say from a Burgundy or a Sancerre. Though on one visit a waiter sensed my irritation and offered me a glass of white Bordeaux from Graves that was delicious and only $6.50.

Dallas has always had a few small French and "continental" spots in town reaching varying degrees of success and longevity. Taking root in the space that was once home to Clare de Lune, Le Rendezvous isn't dazzling. Nor does it break new ground or even bloom into unexpected flourishes. But the dining room is comfortable (with stone reliefs and a mural of a garden on one wall), the service good and the food well-crafted within its classic framework. It's a respite from the flashy, the fancy and the fused. And from elevator orchestrations of long ago spent pop tunes.

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