Rendezvous Cafe, Avalon

Last week I had to make a trip to Avalon Beach and while there I met up with my friend, Lou, for lunch.  It had been quite a while since I’d been to Avalon and I was really looking forward to enjoying the cafe scene and catching up with Lou.

The entrance to Rendezvous Cafe

The entrance to Rendezvous Cafe

I was always a big fan of The Cook’s Larder that was a cafe/restaurant/cooking school/deli/catering school and so much more and was so saddened to see that it is no more.  However, when one set of doors closes, new ones open and what was The Cook’s Larder is now the Rendezvous Cafe. The Rendezvous Cafe is owned by the same people who own Avalon Brasserie and friends of mine who live in the area tell me the food at the Brasserie is outstanding so Lou and I were keen to try their cafe that has only been open for a few weeks.

The cafe is in a section of Old Barrenjoey Road where the footpaths are really wide allowing for spacious outdoor seating and separation from the traffic.

It's lovely to be able to sit under the shade of the gum trees

It’s lovely to be able to sit under the shade of the gum trees

I had an immediate problem upon entering Rendezvous Cafe and that is that the interior looked exactly the same, except striped bare.  I think it’s very dangerous for any new cafe to not give itself an immediate new identity to avoid comparisons being made.

What you now feel when you walk into Rendezvous is a sense of emptiness.  The place seems very, very bare.  Previously the blackboards on the walls were covered in chalk telling you what’s available but now most of the blackboards are empty, there are perspex boxes at the counter that used to be filled with sweets but now they sit empty, there were pictures on the walls but they’ve gone and not been replaced with anything, there used to be things hanging from the ceiling like retro egg beaters but they’re gone and nothing’s replaced them and sadly, it seems gone too are the customers.

You can see the empty perspex sweet boxes as the counter.

Empty perspex sweet boxes at the counter

It’s like the former occupants stripped out everything except the tables and chairs and the new occupants haven’t replaced any of the items that gave the cafe so much character and soul.

The coffee bar and the empty blackboards behind the counter

The coffee bar and the empty blackboards behind the counter

We took a seat towards the back of the cafe where we had a clear view into the open kitchen that also has a large angled mirror so you can watch the chefs in action.  Being a French cafe, they appropriately play French music, however, I’m not sure if we were seated directly under the speaker but we did find the music a bit loud for our conversation and the music is not Tina-Arena-French, but rather quite obscure French music.

A smiling waitress brought over some water and handed us the menu.  One page of the menu is the all-day breakfast menu and we looked at the other tables and noticed everyone had ordered breakfast items that were around $16.50 each. On the other side was the lunch menu.  There were four entrees and four mains.  I’m not sure that people going out for lunch in a cafe are necessarily wanting an entree and would have thought entrees would be more appropriate in a restaurant.

The open kitchen with it's mirrors so you can see everything that goes on.

The open kitchen with it’s mirrors so you can see everything that goes on.

As there were just four mains to choose from, we found the menu extremely limiting especially when we went to order the fillet of snapper only to be told it was unavailable.  I also noticed that the mains were priced between $24.00 and $26.00 and I think this is more than what most people are prepared to pay when having lunch in a cafe. I asked if there were any specials and was told there was a BLT or a steak sandwich.  I ordered the steak sandwich and Lou, having trouble deciding, ordered an entree of sweet corn fritters and another entree of Smoked Tasmanian Salmon.

My steak sandwich was okay.  It said it came with a basil aioli but there was only a very small teaspoon of it to be found.  The steak was nicely cooked and it was juicy which is definitely preferable to dry and I was impressed with the rather large steak knife.  However I did think the fries were a tad dry and the look of them reminded me of what you might find in a fast food restaurant.  I also thought the presentation of the fries could have been stepped up a little.

Steak sandwich with basil aioli and fries $17.50

Steak sandwich with basil aioli and fries $17.50

Lou found her sweet corn fritters to be nice but that’s all.  She was glad she also ordered the smoked salmon as finding the corn fritters a little bland, she felt the salmon made the dish more interesting – except it wasn’t one dish, it was two mixed together.

Sweet Corn Fritters, watercress salad and chilli balsamic reduction $14.50

Sweet Corn Fritters, watercress salad and chilli balsamic reduction $14.50

We might have ordered dessert but we weren’t asked if we wanted any and by then we thought we might make more of the time I had left with a quick wander around the Avalon shops.  If you haven’t been to Avalon it’s a great place to go for a day to do some shopping.

Tasmanian Smoked Salmon that's available as an entree but this was served as a side dish.

Tasmanian Smoked Salmon that’s available as an entree but this was served as a side dish

Overall, we were underwhelmed by our experience at Rendezvous and I’m sure this is because the previous cafe was so alive and buzzing and wonderful and now it seems like they’ve packed up and moved on and there’s nothing much remaining except an empty shell.  This cafe will need to quickly overcome that feeling if it’s going to survive. Verdict:  Teething issues.

It's lovely to be able to sit under the shade of the gum trees

It’s lovely to be able to sit under the shade of the gum trees

Rendezvous Cafe:  Shop 1, 21-23 Old Barrenjoey Road, Avalon NSW

Comments

  1. What a beautiful cafe… I would like to sit under the shade of the gum trees… Thank you dear Charlie, have a nice day, love, nia

  2. Sounds like this one has seen better days, which is a shame. Lovely part of the world, though!

  3. They need me to style it with some French Vintage.
    Carolyn

  4. Oh no, what a disappointment. The Cook’s Larder had so much character. I wonder why they closed.

  5. Oh Charlie, you don’t seem to have a lot of luck with the cafes. Is it a northside thing? I’m thinking back to when you ordered a steak sandwich at Cook & Archies and that was good.

    • That meal at Cook and Archie’s was brilliant. That would have to be the best cafe I’ve been to all year in terms of atmosphere, menu selection and delivery of the food. Cook and Archie’s made it look so effortless – what goes on everywhere else?

  6. G’day! What a shame Charlie they have not gotten it right from the start as word spreads and it is a difficult cafe climate Australia wide at the moment for these obvious (as you mentioned teething things) to happen and agree it does not look like a warm, welcoming place an $24 – $26 dollars is not really a cafe for lunch price too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  7. I’ve never been a big fan of Tina’s – until listening to that song and reading this review. The plate of smoked salmon as a side dish just looks lazy. There isn’t a lot of loving’ going on in the new joint is there.

  8. i like to be there and enjoy a plate of smoked salmon too.

  9. So sad that the new cafe doesn’t live up to the old’s reputation! Such a shame!

  10. I would like a spot outside in the shade. Great little meals.

  11. Booooooo.

  12. Sounds like the new restaurant hasn’t hit its stride yet, which is always a disappointment, especially when a successful one existed in the same location before. But it does look nice to sit outside under the shade of the trees.

  13. What a shame! And the salmon coming on a separate plate, you’d think they could just add it to the fritters…

  14. Too bad! It amazes me how so many restaurants aren’t really good at preparing and serving food – they’re just OK at best. Sorry this place was a bit of a downer.

  15. Definitely some work to do here, and I agree that the new owners need to put their stamp on it quickly. If they don’t infuse the place with some personality soon customers will just be discouraged- and so will the staff. The meals certainly don’t impress me Charlie, I think you must be due for some good cafe Karma soon, surely? Xox

  16. The new place doesn’t really seem to be giving a lot of value for the money or are all restaurant prices that high in Oz? I find $16-17 a bit much for lunch.

  17. I’m sorry it was such a bust, especially when it had a reputation!

    Cheers
    CCU

  18. Too bad the owner of the Avalon Brasserie didn’t think it important to put more thought and effort to get the café off to a good start.

  19. “Teething issues!” What a great way to describe your experience of the new restaurant. It’s too bad they didn’t put much energy into reinventing a bit before opening. Hopefully they’ll figure things out. If not, perhaps the next restaurant will!

  20. Hmm that’s pretty sad. Surely anyone can see that it needs a bit of atmosphere.
    Even putting those chips in a little glass on the plate would have been an improvement. It was very pub-like presentation.

  21. Nice location, but what a basic mistake not to give the cafe some character on the inside. I wonder if they read your posts.

  22. I like that area. Isn’t it sad that the owners haven’t sat down and pretended they were customers. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

  23. This does sound like a bit of a let down. It’s difficult when a good place closes and a less good one takes its place – such a shame! Let’s hope Rendezvous sorts out the teething and improves over time.

  24. Sorry I haven’t been around the past few days. Things are a touch haywire again.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  25. While I enjoy finding new places, I seem to gravitate back to my tried and true as I just hate to get disappointed in my meal!! It does happen every now and then, but when you pay extra and expect something more, it’s such a let down. Hopefully the conversation and catching up with your friend made the day all worth it!

  26. What a shame! Sounds like it was disappointing all the way around. I wonder at their thinking not to change the appearance. Someone needed help with their business plan perhaps!

  27. Hmm too bad, especially price is beyond average and food doesn’t meet the certain expectation. If I was the owner I’d be there to make sure business running. Restaurant business is hard – especially price is higher, people will not come back once people think the food is bad…what else is there, you know. 🙁

  28. What a shame – it sounded promising at the start.

  29. Probably is just teething issues, must be hard to open a cafe. Hopefully it’ll step up. Avalon is the most fab spot for a little weekday getaway isn’t it, a real treat.

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