The big review: Rendez-Vous **½
You can get one of those "thin pancakes" here, but there's more to this French spot than pastries and baked goods.
By Rochelle Koff
Rendez-Vous Bakery & Bistro, with locations in Aventura and Oakland Park, isn't just about delectable fruit tarts and chocolate croissants (though we're fine with them, too).
The menu features items like battered-brioche French toast, pâté with cornichons, croque monsieur, quiche, crepes and beef bourguignon. The Oakland Park site serves dinner Tuesday-Saturday as well as breakfast and lunch daily. The Aventura restaurant adds dinner service in early November.
Chef-co-owner Pascal Zeimet began as a pastry chef and baker, owning patisseries in France, but over the years he has expanded his repertoire. He and his wife, Corinne, opened their Aventura bistro and bakery five years ago. Zeimet is originally from the village of Marville in the Lorraine region of northeastern France, so it's no surprise that his quiches are terrific: creamy, but not overly rich, the size of a small personal pie on a light puff pastry, served with mixed greens. Get one with spinach; chicken, tomatoes and herbs; cheeses; onions or the popular Lorraine, with chopped ham, bacon and Swiss cheese.
At the Oakland Park location, for dinner, you'll find trout amandine, beef bourguignon and other entrees at reasonable prices that you can pair with the also-affordable wines and bubbly -- 17 mostly French choices with 11 by the glass. On a Saturday night, we started with shrimp cassolette, super-rich fare for Francophiles who love lots of butter and cream. The plump shrimp, sautéed in garlic butter, are bathed in a Hollandaise sauce gratinée. Dip in with complimentary baguette slices.
We were disappointed in bland escargot that would have benefited from more garlic and seasoning. But we love Rendez-Vous' garden-fresh tomato basil soup, with just a hint of cream. If you must have French onion, they've got it. For dinner, choose from 17 entrees, pastas and crepes. The lamb navarin is a good bet. The meat is tender and flavorful, in a hearty stock that starts with a roux and lots of veggies: the dish's namesake turnips (navet in French), carrots, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and a splash of white wine.
The seafood was a bit chewy and smothered in lobster sauce in our dinner crepe. We gave Rendez-Vous' savory crepes another chance during a lunchtime visit to Aventura and our chicken florentine was delicious, with plenty of tender sliced meat and mushrooms in a béchamel sauce topped with a golden crust of grated Swiss cheese and bread crumbs. It's not all heavy sauces at Rendez-Vous. Try a salad Niçoise, with chunks of tuna, mixed greens, haricot verts, tomato, potato, hard-boiled egg and black olives -- with Dijonnaise dressing.
As for dessert, there was no way were were going to leave without trying at least one (or more) of those pastries.
Rendez-Vous Bakery & Bistro, 17851 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura; 1576 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Oakland Park; 305-936-1440, 954-563-2228. Oakland Park 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sun-Mon, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Tues-Sat; Aventura 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily (dinner begins in November). Appetizers $5-$10.95, salads $7.50-$10.25, entrees $9.25-$25.95, sandwiches $8.50-12.50, desserts $2.85-$4.80
FYI: Beer and wine; no corkage. AX, MC, VS.
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