Belltown’s cultural icons, The Rendezvous Restaurant & Bar and Jewel Box Theater, are undergoing a renaissance as new ownership and a new chef infuse the venue’s 1920’s speakeasy vibe with contemporary flair.
Owner Jerry Everard, one of Seattle Magazine’s most Influential People of 2014, is known for his soulful restorations of some of Seattle’s coolest spaces, including Neumos, Moe Bar, Barboza and Spitfire. Now, Everard looks to re-establish The Rendezvous and Jewel Box Theater as a comfortable, can’t-miss Seattle classic.
Building on History
The Rendezvous and Jewel box Theater are located in the heart of Seattle’s historic “Film Row,” which began when silent-era film exchanges sprouted up between Second and Third avenues in the early 1900’s. The Jewelbox, a cozy theater located inside the Rendezvous, hosted films while the restaurant catered to visiting Hollywood royalty who stayed across the street, at the William Tell Hotel. The Jewelbox is one of the last remaining intact screening rooms from the “Film Row” era.
In 1927, MGM Studio’s grand offices were located on the building’s top floor embellished with original leather walls as well as a hidden staircase that then led to the underground speakeasy. Today, the speakeasy is affectionately known as “The Grotto” and serves as a comedy venue and host to private parties. The Grotto features shows from punk rock to The Comedy Womb, a weekly female focused open mic night.
Despite the passage of time, the space at 2322 2nd Avenue exudes its storied history in décor as well as in spirit—indeed, long-time bartenders swear the speakeasy’s long-passed patrons occasionally roam the halls.
Seattle Celebrity Chef Reimagines a Classic Menu
Behind The Rendezvous’ new kitchen is Seattle-chef Simon Pantet. Beginning his cooking career at Madrona Ale House, Pentet refined his craft at many of Seattle’s best restaurants and, in 2011, became a local celebrity as a contestant on Bravo’s highly rated series Top Chef.
Pantet’s unique taste and style is a natural progression from his early days in Switzerland. “As a kid, I traveled a lot through Europe and North Africa and my French-speaking mom would constantly have me in the kitchen,” said Pantet.
“I was exposed to all kinds of cuisine at a young age and learned how to cook pasta at age six. I later enrolled in photography school because I liked the creativity of the darkroom. But as photography became a digital craft, I decided to pursue my second passion and become a full-time chef.”
In 2011, Pantet was nominated to be a contestant for season 9 of Top Chef. When he got the got the call that he had been cast in the competition, Pantet was more than a little surprised. “I had never watched the show so had no idea what I was in for.”
“They flew twenty-nine chefs down to San Antonio where our first dish was to use pork. When I first saw the pork, I knew I wanted to make pork tenderloin but I ended up getting stuck with the pork butt… Most of us didn’t survive that first round,” laughed Pantet. After returning to Seattle, he received job offerings coast-to-coast, but opted to stay in Seattle with his friends and his giant Rottweiller, Escobar. Most recently, since 2011, Simon ran the acclaimed Urban Nomad Food Truck prior to becoming The Rendezvous’ head chef.
Pentet calls upon his own culinary history to reimagine The Rendezvous’ original 1926 menu, a one-page typed document, which listed “Tomato Rice Soup” for 10 cents and “Brown Beef Stew” for 35 cents. “Like the venue, The Rendezvous’ menu should be an out-of-the box classic, which means simple, affordable but also comfortable and full of flavor.”
New dishes on the dinner menu include Pantet’s Black Bean Taquitos, Green Goddess Kale Salad, Fresno Pepper Chicken Wings, House Fried Potato Chips, Hot Olives, Pulled Pork Slider Trio (pictured), and the Chef’s Burger with a beef patty, sharp cheddar, wine braised cabbage, fried shallots, a demi-glaze aioli and crispy bacon. Among the notable refreshed classic menu items is the original Beef Stew with Vegetables and Potatoes, which Pantet deconstructed and beautifully presented on the plate with braised top sirloin, carrot puree, nouvelle potatoes, kale and cilantro oil. Other reimagined 1920s classics include the Rice Tomato Soup, Deviled Eggs and Caviar, and Griddle Cakes.
For more information on events, shows, and specials at The Rendezvous and Jewel Box Theater please visit http://www.facebook.com/SeattleRendezvous or follow on Instagram TheRendezvous_Seattle and Twitter @RendezvousSea.