Restaurant Reviews - July 6, 2008 - Joanne

Le Rendezvous, Mendocino, CA
Le Rendezvous
Fort Bragg, CA
March 20, 2008 - Dinner

Le Rendezvous is a small restaurant in a house near downtown Fort Bragg which, we've heard good things about. We made it a destination on this trip but would not in the future. It’s an interesting place to eat in Fort Bragg (albeit expensive) but we would head to Mendocino next time. The service was generally good but overtaxed and slow at times. (Example: We had to ask for crystal red wine glasses to be washed and had to wait for them.)

Amuse: Rabbit and pistachio terrine on huckleberry chutney
Very nice terrine and the chutney was nicely made. Huge portion for an amuse.

“A timbale of pork combines layers of boudin noir, sauteed apples, and braised rib meat, all wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon. The timbale is baked and unmolded, and served with a spicy quince sauce.”
This was good. Little pieces of all ingredients save for the wrapping bacon. It did not hold together well. The spicy sauce was not very spicy but was lovely with the other elements.

“From a culinary standpoint, spring seems to be the most fleeting of seasons. It's generally only a month or two each year that we get fresh morels and relatively local asparagus. We sauté morels and steam asparagus, and combine them in a ragout of escargots, which is served in puff pastry.”
The puff pastry was heavy. The beautiful mild escargots were paired well with a few morels and nicely cooked asparagus, but the sauce, albeit a light veloute, did not pull it together and the dish was very bland.

“A frenched rack of spring lamb for two is roasted and served with a complex, provençale-style sauce. The sauce takes four days to make. Lamb stock is simmered overnight, reduced to a demi-glace, combined and simmered with wine, a vegetable mirepoix, herbs and other ingredients, and, finally, thickened and seasoned. A request for mint jelly will summon the executioner from the kitchen.”
Nicely cooked and very tender lamb. The sauce is indeed complex and interesting and a good foil for the lamb. The vegetable mirepoix was a miss even though it added mushrooms to the dish and the garlic mashed potatoes were well crafted but just wrong with the dish.

“Chicken forestier is a take-off on a traditional coq-au-vin. Chicken (thigh and leg only) is braised till meltingly tender in red wine with a mélange of wild mushrooms, glazed pearl onions and applewood-smoked lardons. The braising liquid is thickened to make a sauce.” The chicken leg was a bit stringy and not dry, but certainly not meltingly tender. The mushrooms were very present but the dish seemed to not pull together. The accompaniments of a grain (faro?) and something like a spinach soufflé were unexciting.

2001 Charles Joguet Chinon
Fruity with elements of leather and tobacco, but bright cherry dominate. The nose started with medicinal attributes and softened with opening time. Still very tight and young.

Petit Fours
Puffs filled with Passion fruit Curd.
Curd nicely done, buttery and bright with passion fruit. The puffs were better than the puff pastry with the escargot but still a bit heavy.

Mosswood Market Cafe & Bakery in Boonville, CA
Mosswood Market
Cafe & Bakery

Boonville, CA
Visited twice in March, 2008
On the way up to Mendocino, we stopped for a quick lunch in Boonville (Andersen Valley), and we were happy to find a little café which serves, sandwiches, soups, coffee and baked goods, with attention to the ingredients.

They even have a small wine by the glass list. The coffee is Flying Goat. We liked it so much we stopped and had lunch again on the way back. It reminds me a little of Della Fattoria in Petaluma. Don't miss the pecan squares.

Cafe Beaujolis Mendocino, CA
Café Beaujolais

Mendocino, CA
March 19 & 20, 2008 – Lunch & Dinner

A dinner and lunch at Café Beaujolais left us with a pleasant glow and would happily return, although we were unable to find the magic of a visit many years ago. We enjoyed dinner enough that we returned for lunch the next day. No longer owned by Margaret Fox, who made the restaurant famous, it remains a very good choice if you are visiting Mendocino.

Inside at Cafe Beaujolis in Mendocino, CA

Cider Braised Niman Ranch Pork Belly: Apple Micro-Green Salad and Onion Jam

Decadent and delicious. Nice simple presentation.

Pan Roasted Wild Gulf Prawns, Crispy Root Vegetable Nest, Truffled, Sweet Corn Remoulade
Pan Roasted Wild Gulf Prawns, Crispy Root Vegetable Nest, Truffled, Sweet Corn Remoulade
Perfectly cooked. The corn* made me raise an eyebrow but the corn caper combination in a mayonnaise based dressing was a nice foil for the shrimp.
*Soooo out-of-season.

Local Dungeness Crab Cakes, Asian Slaw, Crispy Noodles, Scallion Vinaigrette
Crispy tops and sweet crab. The crab is mixed with a remoulade style seasoning but it doesn’t overpower. The crab was plentiful (cakes were mostly crab) and lovely. The scallion sauce that the cakes are served on is heavy in comparison and we liked the cakes without it. The center coleslaw also didn’t excite us, but wasn’t flawed – offering crisp cabbage and Chinese noodles atop.

Cast Iron Roasted Petaluma Duck Breast, Herbed Gnocchi, Wilted Baby Greens, Huckleberry Jus
The duck was seasoned on the salty side, but tender and cooked to medium side of medium rare. My concern were the heavy gnocchi which provided no element worth consuming.

Pan-Roasted California Sturgeon Fillet, House Made Tagliatelle, Truffle Emulsion Sauce, Wild Mushrooms, Beets and Snap Peas
Nice combination of flavors, well-cooked. The tagliatelle was a bit gluey and not worth eating. One of the best sturgeon Jack’s had at a restaurant.

Coconut Cream Pie with Macaroon Crust and Caramel Sauce
A signature dessert. The crust is a chocolate macaroon (not too sweet) with coconut custard atop and fresh whipped cream and toasted coconut curls. The dessert comes off being fresh and lighter than expected. My only criticism is that the 3 elements still had a sense of separateness on the plate.

House Made Fruit Sorbets with Toasted Almond Butter Cookies: Orange Melon, Blood Orange and Plum
Orange melon was really good. Blood orange good. Plum not exciting. The little cookies were very nice.

We had a bottle of 2005 DuMOLl Finn Pinot Noir.

We each had a glass of a Malvasia Sparkling
and Roederer Brut.

We had a nice lunch but raised an eyebrow* over the grapes and strawberries garnishing the main courses.
*Soooo out-of-season.

Beaujolais Benedict, Shaved Apple Wood Ham, Rye Toast with Poached Eggs and Cayenne Mornay at Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, CA
Beaujolais Benedict, Shaved Apple Wood Ham, Rye Toast with Poached Eggs and Cayenne Mornay
Really good. I was concerned about the cayenne but it was done with a light hand and the flavor really enhanced the Mornay. Recommended.

Field Greens Salad: Point Reyes Bleu Cheese, Candied Walnuts,
Butter Braised Beets & Tarragon Vinaigrette

I wished it was goat cheese rather than blue but the lettuce was fresh and the beets nicely cooked.

Quiche: Apple Wood Bacon, Wild Mushrooms & Gruyere or Asparagus,
Good. Crust was nice. Would order again but we liked the Eggs Benedict better.

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