I’ve heard good things about Rendevous possibly rivalling that of Olives on the High Street, so I head in for lunch between lectures sceptically to see if this is the case. It is raining outside and I am grateful to at least be able to sit inside– we duck in to a warm venue, with a welcoming buzz of chatter, awkward Oxford paintings hanging on the walls, and a bustle of three waiters in the kitchen holding down the fort.
My friend and I sit on a two table quite near the kitchen, as it is the only free space during the crazy lunch hour. One thing I can say for Rendevous is that if you sit in the front half of the café, it is an excellent spot for people watching due to the large window overlooking the high street; it serves as an excellent procrastination tool if you are meant to be comparing lecture notes in your lunch break.
On scanning the menu, it doesn’t really shout “Moroccan Cuisine” at me, but it looks like hearty affordable food and there is a lot to choose from: sandwiches, pasta, salads, jacket potatoes, and savoury crepes. I order a Chicken Pesto Sandwich Deluxe, and my friend goes for a Spicy MexicanSandwich – along with a pot of tea and hot chocolate.
The food arrives after a reasonable wait, the sandwiches actually in the form of paninis and accompanied with a little side salad. The roasted chicken is moist and tender, the sundried tomatoes juicy, and the mozzarella melted perfectly in between the toasted bread. But all of the ingredients are used sparingly. I open the bread to suspiciously analyse the filling, and sure enough, there is barely a scrape of pesto, and probably not even a quarter of the chicken that I would expect to see in a full size panini. My friend feels the same – the jalapenos are pleasantly poky, the chicken as spicy as he would want, and yet he is let down by the lack of quantity in the fact that, really, there is next to none.
We finish up and order a crepe between us – feeling downhearted and still hungry – and are actually pleasantly surprised with the professionally made, eclectic taste of the Sweet and Sour. The batter is soft and the helpings of sugar and lemon are plentiful, and the size of the pancake is wholeheartedly more decent than that of their paninis.
We leave feeling as though we will never return unless it is for the dessert menu. A lovely and friendly venue for afternoon tea, and reasonably priced with student discount, they let us down with their main courses; but perhaps we just caught them on a bad day. My verdict? Certainly not a rival of Olives, but at least you can sit inside, and I really would recommend the sweet crepes.
Price: All reasonable, about £4 for a panini and salad
Service: Friendly enough, can be quite abrupt during the busy lunch hour