WALLY’S WORLD: Rendezvous with the town’s latest wine bar

Monkey Rides didn’t last long. The shop might have worked in some districts of Seattle – again, Belltown – but not in a suburban community like ours. The building stood empty for several months. Now I’m happy to report the place has been extensively remodeled, to say the least, and has opened as a restaurant.

Well, some of you might remember Monkey Rides, but I suspect not many of you may not.

Monkey Rides was that skateboard, snowboard, rollerblade, freestyle and free-swinging sports store located at 1118 Myrtle Ave. The place also had the clothing that accompanies such outdoor activities; mostly, T-shirts, shoes, and crash helmets. Despite its athletic nature, it promoted a kind of rebellious, youthful image that, from the outside, resembled a Belltown, post-punk hangout.

Monkey Rides didn’t last long. The shop might have worked in some districts of Seattle – again, Belltown – but not in a suburban community like ours.   The building stood empty for several months.

Now I’m happy to report the place has been extensively remodeled, to say the least, and has opened as a restaurant. Yeah, I know. I can hear you moan.   “Just what Enumclaw needs; another restaurant!”

Be that as it may, The Rendezvous looks like a winner. The overall ambiance is quite inviting. The moment you walk in the door, a certain warm serenity settles around you. It must have something to do with the dark wood, wine racks, and general design. In the center of the room, there are a few easy chairs around a gas fireplace that will surely add a romantic touch on winter evenings. The curved bar is also very attractive and somehow seems secluded and intimate.

Though I haven’t yet eaten here, the menu has several intriguing American and Italian dishes. There’s nothing routine or downhome about the offerings;  for example, the simple, American grilled cheese sandwich has blossomed into a tangy concoction of farmer’s five cheese, bacon, and slices of a Granny Smith apple melted between grilled sourdough. Or how about that “decadent” dessert of coffee and rum infused vanilla chiffon cake with mascarpone, topped with cocoa powder?

Owners Timi Brooks and Wendy Muller have lived in Enumclaw for 25 years and didn’t meet one another until they moved here and became neighbors. Each is married and has two children. Prior to opening The Rendezvous, Timi worked at Windermere Real Estate for 23 years. So did Wendy for 15 years.   Most of their employees in the restaurant are family members or very close family friends.

Timi said they will eventually develop a “cellar” with 60 to 80 different kinds of Washington, California, and European wines. All this collection will be for sale by the bottle. In addition, 15 or 20 different vinos will be available by the glass and another four wines are on tap.

Of course, many of you would rather sit at the bar and simply have a beer. Here again, I predict few of the brews will be familiar to you. There are six draft beers, of which two, Elkhead and Guinness Stout are fairly commonplace, but who ever heard of Lindeman’s Framboise? That’s a Belgian barley lambic raspberry brew. I dare say, most beer aficionados haven’t run across that one!

As suggested above, our region seems to have a hell of a lot of restaurants. Couple this with the sorry state of today’s economy and the future doesn’t look especially bright for some of these business. (Or, for that matter, any other new business.) Here’s wishing all of them the best of luck.


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