78 Third Street, Turners Falls,
Open every day, 3 p.m. to midnight.
Entrées to $11.99
More a clubhouse than a restaurant, The Rendezvous likes to keep its customers on their toes. At first glance, the porch of this wooden structure, with bearded guys sipping beer in the sunshine, looks like more like a lost-in-time biker bar than the funk fest that it is.
Inside is a bowling alley of a room with a generous bar on the left, tables to the right and a stage where the pins might be. On the Voo Plate Specials Luncherooni menu featured on Saturday, May 17 were drink specials, appetizers, a couple of dishes for lunch and four desserts.
The evening menu includes paninis, but not just any panini: a fluffernutter panini which tastes of childhood as well as a chorizo batard, with sausage, roasted peppers, smoked cheese and garlic aioli with a flavor of Barcelona. Other choices are personal pizzas, salads, wings and potstickers.
Both lunch appetizers were quite good, and, like this restaurant, surprising. The stuffed mushrooms were extraordinary—no sausage, no fats, all mushroom and a bit of cheese. The quality of the mushroom came through subtly. Barramundi Cerviche, made from an Australian whitefish farmed nearby in Millers Falls, was nearly perfect. Delicious and fleshy as well as succulent, it was not too infused with citrus, and was nicely seasoned with cilantro and mint. Served in a martini glass, it was plenty of food for a small meal.
The dinner menu includes a dish you would expect in a more expensive place. This treat alone is worth traveling to Turners for: the roasted root salad, which consisted of oven-roasted beets, carrots and parsnips with mesclun greens, chive nuts and balsamic reduction.
Although the Voo’s ambitious events such as the yearly Laundromat Fashion Show and Friday nights with DJ Plushplay sometimes overwhelm the powers of the lone dude in the kitchen, the food is to be commended. They manage to get out the Curried Carrot Kickshaw and TV Dinner du jour eventually (the menu is bipolar—half crazy, half gourmet), depending on how crowded it is.
A full and colorful bar is where the action is. Food and drink are ordered from the bar and taken to tables “if they’re busy,” which is always. Drink specials featured on the lunch menu included a 2004 Marchesi Cattaneo Rosso di Montalcino (described as a 100 percent Brunello, and aged at least a year by law) and Green River Ambrosia Mead, a fizzy yeast drink that is a local offering.
Unusual items on the bar menu are a $12 cold sake drink as well as Green River Ambrosia Mead, a libation crafted by some Greenfield residents who distribute the honey-flavored stuff from the back of a Subaru. Rendezvous and People’s Pint are the only places where you can buy it in public until liquor store distribution is in place. The effervescent elixir is made from yeast and honey.
People wander in and out of the Rendezvous day and night. On a recent Friday night, a woman in dreadlocks was last in a lineup of open mic acts. Playing a bit of slide guitar during a set of four songs, she stood in brown knee socks and a poncho and finished up with a show-stopping version of a song from Pulp Fiction after running the soundboard for a poet, a man singing in a trance and a woman playing a washboard between her legs. But these acts paled in comparison to the last number of the night. Belting “Bullwinkle, Part II,” the woman in the dreadlocks was the personification of Rendezvous—retro, real and right on.•