Words: Patricia Podorsek Photos: Monica Tindall
The mere mention of a “French” restaurant in KL tends to conjure up images of white tablecloths, waiters in black tie, meals wrapped in sophistication, and of course, a hefty price tag to accommodate it all. But when Arnaud Chappert and Florian Nigen opened Rendez-Vous a month ago, they had something else in mind. These two friends, born in France, dreamed of bringing affordable, authentic French food to Malaysia without the fanfare. They hoped to create a local eatery that wouldn’t simply be saved for special occasions or impressing clients, but where guests could return with friends again and again to enjoy delicious, unpretentious food and drinks.
They got it.
|Rendez-Vous, French Restaurant in Bangsar|
The non-halal Rendez-vous sits on a corner of the neighborhood-y Bangsar, the one you may not know, across Jalan Maarof and the bustle of Telawi streets. The walls open with storefront roll-up doors to create an open, breezy space, with both indoor and outdoor seating, very bistro-like in the classic sense of the word.
Every day features a flexible set menu. On the weekends, guests can enjoy any combination of starter, main or dessert, or sample all three for about RM60. Last weekend’s collection began with salmon terrine and three baby bruschettas bubbling with smoky ham and cheese, and finished with two eclairs filled with hazelnut custard and chantilly cream. At the center was a spectacular array of Chicken Cordon Bleu, a whole chicken breast stuffed with layers of thin white ham and cheese, flanked with sautéed mushrooms. Crisp and tender, the flavors melded into a carnivorous delight.
|Chicken Cordon Bleu|
|Dessert of the Day – Eclairs|
|Dessert of the Day – Hazelnut Cream Eclair|
Similarly flexible sets are available for lunch on weekdays, and dinner sets can be found on the menu as well. One dinner set draws together a starter of escargot, salad, or duck confit, with a lamb, pork or fish main, plus a cheese plate and dessert for a very modestly priced RM89. The dinner seafood set, with several specialized dishes from Brittany, is more expensive at RM395 for two people, but includes such delicacies as oysters, prawns, and lobster.
Our host, Arnaud, made a special point of telling us that although the food is moderately priced, don’t expect bad wine on the side. In keeping with their philosophy, the wine list at Rendez-vous offers a tasteful selection of Bordeaux, Cotes du Rhone, and even a few Bourgogne and Languedoc Roussillon, at reasonable prices. Ten wines are offered by the glass. We sampled the 2010 Baron Monbardue, a Bordeaux, and found the flavors complex and smooth.
The wine list is nice enough, in fact, to enjoy a bottle with a friend over one of several tasting platters available. We tried the “Plateau Autour de la Terre,” comprised of pork terrine, foie gras, Parma ham and other charcuterie bites. With warm baguettes on the side, this platter was nearly a meal in itself.
|Cold Cuts Platter and French Wine|
Many of the items on the menu are brought directly from France, including the snails. The escargot are served with sauce reblochon, a creamy light cheese sauce that nearly had us licking the plate.
The ala carte menu contains a comprehensive selection of meats and fish for the mains, mostly within the RM30-40 price range. We sampled the medallions of pork tenderloin served with a sauce made of cepes mushrooms, a chef’s favorite, and were not disappointed. The meat was tender and the sauce creamy and well-balanced. On the side, a sizeable baked potato was served whole in the skin with cream, fresh parsley and red onions, alongside a market-fresh puree of carrots and braised leeks.
No element of the food preparation goes unnoticed at Rendez-vous, least of all the desserts. Some of the finest chocolate mousse I have experienced arrived at the table after so many other dreamy concoctions. The chocolate was subtle and smooth, and the consistency light and airy, even in this city of heavy humidity. The second dessert was a marvel, the likes of which I’ve never seen. “Ile Flottante” looks like a cylindrical iceberg floating in a white sea. The combination of fluffy meringue and silky vanilla custard felt like diving into the clouds.
If you’re looking for an authentic French experience without the pretentious posturing, point your feet in the direction of Bangsar. Rendez-vous offers relaxed and high quality French food and ambience, the likes (and prices) of which are difficult to replicate in KL. In a word: Magic.
Reasons to visit: Affordable traditional French food, open air dining, out-of-the-oven baguettes, cold cuts and cheeses from France, market-fresh salads and vegetables, excellent wine list.
100 Lorong Maarof
59000, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur
+6 03 2202 0206