Rendezvous, lodged in Cambridge's former Central Square Burger King, is a culinary fairy tale come true, a restaurant in which skillet-roasted skate wing, preserved lemons and Moroccan spices thrive where The Whopper could not.
Chef and owner Steve Johnson came to my house to prepare the richly homey veal and pork meatballs served over toasted orecchiette. At 53, Steve is tall and lean, with a cleanly shaved head that unfairly can make men both stylish and ageless.
Steve is a fixture in the Boston chef community that includes Jody Adams, Chris Schlesinger, Gordon Hammersly. In fact, I first met Steve 28 years ago when I was waiting on tables at Hammersly's Bistro and he was sous chef there. I remember that Gordon had an affinity for Steve because both men had arrived in restaurant kitchens by way of a liberal arts education. Neither man ever spent a day at a cooking school.
Steve lived and studied in Montpelier, France, for three years, the origins of his food's blend of earthiness and brightness. He worked in kitchens in Vermont for a while, and then Hammersly's Bistro where he was sous chef for four years. He was chef and co-owner of The Blue Room after that, and in 2005 walked by the "For Rent" sign on the Burger King site and opened Rendezvous, which Boston Magazine declared "Best Restaurant Debut" in 2006.
From Food For Thought by Heather Atwood.