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Convivial, From the Owners of Mintwood Place - 8th and O Street in Shaw


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A colleague of mine, who is dating someone who works there, just informed me that Convivial is opening to the public tonight and their Facebook page seems to confirm this by stating that they are open at 5:30 this evening.  The soft opening was this past Sunday and tonight they're ready for the public.  

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Really wonderful dinner at Convivial last night. Fried chicken "coq au vin", tartiflette fritters, pickled rockfish with green papaya & avocado, leeks dijonnaise all excellent. Maybe a half step below was the blue catfish bouillabaisse. It feels like one of those rare places that you could randomly point to anything on the menu and be happy. Service and pacing were remarkable given that they've been open for just a week. Chef Maupillier came out to say hello to a nearby table and stopped by ours as well. He was extremely relaxed about returning to the kitchen -- which bodes well for the quality on nights he's not there -- but seemed more concerned about people finding him in a neighborhood with very little foot traffic. Based on the crowd last night and the quality of the cooking, I don't think he needs to worry.

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Dinner last night at Convivial. We purposefully didn't order a ton of food, but really enjoyed everything we ate. Started with the latkes, which were delicious and are basically canapes served three bites to an order. Next we had the pickled rockfish. Beautiful presentation and the flavors were all spot on. Pickled fish isn't my favorite, but I really liked this version. For an entree we had the fried chicken coq au vin - this is destined to be a DC classic. It is just so good. With it we had the vadouvan squash and that was awesome as well. At this point, batting 1000 we got two desserts. The warm sticky toffee pudding and the celebration cake. Sticky toffee pudding is a great version of what it is, but it is very sweet. The celebration cake is easily enough for two (with or without the sparkler) and the unfinished half was enjoyed for breakfast this morning with a cappuccino.

We got a same day reservation and when we got there at 9:30 it was about 3/4 full. Food and service were both awesome and we see this place as only getting better with time.

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MichaelBDC and I had a lovely dinner here last night. The restaurant was only about half full when we arrived for our 7:15pm reservation. Our nice server, Diana, guided us through the menu while Justin Guthrie helped us select a great Rhone wine, the Ferraton Pere et Fils "Matiniere." Unbeknownst to him (and MichaelBDC), he also saved us a couple of bucks as I was leaning towards a pricier wine.

We ordered the duck egg beignets and the cauliflower blanc-manger. I liked both dishes, but especially the cauliflower, which had great flavor and texture. MichaelBDC ordered the coq au vin fried chicken which he LOVED and kindly shared a few bites with me. We both agreed that the dish deserves all the raves it is getting. I had the quail with green PUY lentils. I really liked the quail, but I wish there was a larger serving of the quail, because the actual meat to lentil ratio was skewed heavily towards lentils. The lentils were well cooked and rich, balancing out the gaminess of the quail. We were both full and ended up skipping dessert.

A lot of the menu piqued our interest and I can't wait to get back and try some more.

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I had already read much about the coq au vin fried chicken at Convivial and so I couldn't resist ordering it on our first visit the other night.  I agree that it warrants the raves.  So incredibly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, and the sauce is perfection. I imagine this dish taking a spot on multiple wrap-up lists of favorite dishes of the year.  It is certainly on mine. I also loved the latke with celery root and dry cured lamb.

There's much to say about Convivial, and when I have time I will say more.  I truly enjoyed the food, atmosphere, and the hospitality of Chef Cedric Maupillier- who should take great pride in his achievements here.

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I can't wait to try this place, I have heard nothing but stellar reviews from people thus far. The area of Shaw -> Bloomingdale is quickly becoming one of the best areas of the city to eat and drink.

Loved my first meal there yesterday.  Rockfish, cauliflower, fried coq au vin, blood-sausage ravioli with chestnut puree and mushrooms.  All at least very good -- the cauliflower outstanding.  There were another dozen things on the menu that I really wanted to order.  Good but not great sazerac.  You should plan to spend about $50/head, plus alcohol--apparently a slightly lower price-point than Mintwood, which according to Chef Maupillier is very deliberate (and which I heartily applaud--I hope this doesn't become only a special-occasion sort of place; the pricing does not seem exorbitant for what you get, as it is at several other recent openings).  The chef was out and about on the floor, in keeping with the restaurant's name!, and obviously loves his new endeavor.  He has every reason to.

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Dined here last Friday at 5:30pm. Only a few tables in the dining area were filled, but the bar area was already filling up. The place was jampacked by around 6:30. Parking was a cinch since their building has a garage and offers free validation for up to 2-hours.

The latkes were fried perfectly and went well with generous portions of dry-cured lamb on top. My wife removed some slices from hers, which meant more for me!

Leeks dijionaise were presented beautifully and also tasted delicious. This is a more strongly flavored dish (in terms of the onion-like leek flavor) that we kept as an accompaniment to our remaining dishes. I can't imagine anyone ever finishing this plate as a standalone, unless you're really into onion breath.

Pickled rockfish was flavorful and felt like a deconstructed ceviche dish.

Scallop boudin blanc was playfully presented and texture-wise, reminded me of Asian fish cake. The snow peas were slivered and had a perfect crunch to accompany the richer scallop boudin.

The fried chicken coq au vin definitely lived up to the hype. It was the most glorious piece of boneless fried chicken that I had ever eaten and I pray someday to eat it in sandwich form. The flavors were very rich and intense, and the breading had a very dense yet satisfying crunch, almost rice-krispie like. If Che Maupillier were to market a coq au vin sauce condiment, I would buy gallons of it in a heartbeat.

Beer selection was interesting. I ordered the Strawberry-Olive Berliner Weisse, which was delightfully acidic and verging on sour beer (gose) territory. Definitely not your typical IPA and lager heavy beer selection.

This is definitely a place that I would take out-of-towners to. The dishes are just that unique and interesting and not re-formulations of existing fare in larger cities. Yum!

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Can you say what dishes he recommended? I'll be going with my family near the end of the month

The first three I mentioned. (Also the Leeks Dijonnaise, but those would have been four cold dishes (sorry, bad writing on my part)). As he continued, I started to lose track - there were a couple from the "Hot" section as well, and one was the Squash Vadouvan if I remember correctly. Bear in mind that Cedric grew up near the sea, in the Département du Var (83) - he used to kayak out into the Mediterranean onto an island, catch sea urchin, and eat them using a hunting knife. Nobody has ever told me this, but my guess is that he has seafood - particularly Mediterranean seafood - etched deeply into his soul.

Also, we discussed the Fried Chicken Coq au Vin (the day after), and he is very proud of this dish, make no mistake about it - I think he simply knew that I might have this personal quirk.

About a year ago, I can't remember where it was, but I had a bartender tell me they know not to serve me hoppy beers *and* they don't take my taste in beer very seriously! :mellow::lol:

There's a strategy for eating the Cauliflower Blanc-Manger: Take a nibble of each component, and then become aware that a "Blanc-Manger" is like a pudding. As you get deeper into the dish, begin mixing the components (the actual Blanc-Manger is on the bottom), and by the time you're halfway into it, try and eat everything together - sort of a progressive mixing process. That way, you can appreciate the individual ingredients as well as the symphony of flavors.

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Glad you concurred with my rave about the cauliflower, Don -- one of the single best things I've eaten this year, and fascinating.  Was very tempted to order the leeks and the latkes/lamb -- next time.  I also agree about the chicken -- wonderful in its odd way, and certainly tasty, but there are about fifteen things on the menu I'm going to try before I circle back to it.

From the "Nibbles" section: Latke, Celery Root, and Dry-Cured Lamb ($11), and from the "Cold" section: Cauliflower Blanc-Manger, Tabbouleh, Almond, Pomelo, and Herb Salad ($14). I could go into great detail as to why these are such profound, inspired combinations and executions, but I'm going to leave that thrill for yourselves. Do not concern yourself if one-or-more ingredients sounds like it might not be to your liking - get both of these dishes. Just do it.

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Loved my first meal there yesterday.  Rockfish, cauliflower, fried coq au vin, blood-sausage ravioli with chestnut puree and mushrooms.  All at least very good -- the cauliflower outstanding.  There were another dozen things on the menu that I really wanted to order.  Good but not great sazerac.  You should plan to spend about $50/head, plus alcohol--apparently a slightly lower price-point than Mintwood, which according to Chef Maupillier is very deliberate (and which I heartily applaud--I hope this doesn't become only a special-occasion sort of place; the pricing does not seem exorbitant for what you get, as it is at several other recent openings).  The chef was out and about on the floor, in keeping with the restaurant's name!, and obviously loves his new endeavor.  He has every reason to.

Glad you concurred with my rave about the cauliflower, Don -- one of the single best things I've eaten this year, and fascinating.  Was very tempted to order the leeks and the latkes/lamb -- next time.  I also agree about the chicken -- wonderful in its odd way, and certainly tasty, but there are about fifteen things on the menu I'm going to try before I circle back to it.

Ah, yes, you *did* rave about it - I was hammering out this write-up, and didn't take the time to go back and read earlier posts, but now I remember you having loved it. Well, take comfort in knowing that Cedric loves it, too!

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If I had to compare this to another restaurant (I've never been to Mintwood Place, so I beg your pardon), I would say Convivial is essentially 'Central Lite'. By that I mean that the menus are somewhat similar in style and execution (progressive French) with some crowd favorites like Bacon Cheeseburgers, Fried Chicken, some grilled fish, and a hearty stew/soup or two (although there was considerably more creativity in some of the dishes on Convivial's menu). Like Central, I found that Convivial had some very high points, and some rather ordinary points that neither turned me off as a diner but also did not necessarily grab me to want to go back for more.

From the Nibbles section my wife and I were split on the Duck Egg Beignet, which were two fried sticks resting on top of a bowl of tomato and feta sauce. My wife loved this dish, but while I thought the sauce was a pleasantly tangy and acidic, I felt like the Beignets themselves fell short.  I found them to be rather oily and devoid of flavor when not dipped in the sauce.  I wouldn't refuse a bite of this if ordered in the future, and maybe I was expecting too much when I read "duck egg" and "beignet", but this didn't deliver the way I hoped it would.

For the Cold section, we split the lauded Cauliflower and the Veal Tartare.  I enjoyed both (although I found the $14 price tag on the Cauliflower dish to be a bit silly, it was only $3 cheaper than the Fried Chicken!), but while everyone is raving about the Cauliflower I will say that the Veal Tartare was the single best thing I had that night. I love a good tartare, so perhaps I'm a bit biased, but damn did the kitchen take this version up a notch. Along with the oyster leaves that Don mentioned in his post, the use of the poutargue (mullet roe) was brilliant for me, the salty fish flavor might have overtaken a lesser dish but it sung right in tune with the delicious ruby red veal and nicoise crackers I was using to shovel every bit of this gloriousness in my mouth with. The Cauliflower was bright and creative, although I personally thought that the use of full mint leaves was heavy handed in this bowl, dominating the few bites they were in. My favorite part of the dish was the variety of textures in use, every bite was a bit different, ranging from crunchy to the silky and soft blanc manger.

From the Hot section, we ordered the Fried Chicken and the Grilled White Perch. I'm with Don, the combination of the sticky coq au vin sauce with the extremely crispy breading was off for me. Also, I felt like the breading dominated the dish, when I cut into the pieces I found myself searching through the deep burgundy sauce and breading for some signs of meat, which were few and far between.  I love fried chicken and I like coq au vin, but combining the two felt like a misstep to me, and not something I would order again.  My wife loved the Perch, all of the elements (perch, octopus, and crab) were cooked to perfection and presented in ample portions.  My issue with the dish was that the liquid in the bottom of the bowl did not resemble any bisques that I have had before, lacking some of the weightness and depth that could have punched up this light dish a bit.  I was also looking for something in the flavor realm that was missing.  Perch, octopus, and crab on their own are fairly tame in the flavor department, often times relying on a complementary element to bring out their best (some smoke, butter, heat, herbs, etc). I felt that the kitchen either underseasoned the portion that we received or were purposefully trying to let the fish speak for themselves, which I respect, but it didn't work the way I would have hoped it would here.

Aesthetically, I would question the use of wood walls along with wood floors in the dining room, which along with the dull lighting made for a somewhat less intimate and formal experience. Contrast would be good in this space, although it seemed that the bar and some other areas of the restaurant did a better job with this, so maybe it was just the room that we were seated in. Also, it doesn't necessarily appear so as you walk in the front entrance, but this is a pretty large space for a Shaw restaurant. As I was headed to the restroom I found myself walking through 4 different rooms, all packed with diners and service staff, to get to my destination.  I hope this isn't the case, but part of me wonders if this team will have trouble filling all of these tables once the new car smell wears off and the numerous hyped restaurants in the immediate area start opening up in the Spring and Summer.

Overall this was a pleasant experience in a cozy space, and while I don't think I'm quite as fond of this place as others are, but it is certainly a nice addition to Shaw and definitely worthy of a return visit at some point. 
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From the Hot section, we ordered the Fried Chicken and the Grilled White Perch. I'm with Don, the combination of the sticky coq au vin sauce with the extremely crispy breading was off for me. Also, I felt like the breading dominated the dish, when I cut into the pieces I found myself searching through the deep burgundy sauce and breading for some signs of meat, which were few and far between. I love fried chicken and I like coq au vin, but combining the two felt like a misstep to me, and not something I would order again.

Sounds like a french version of Gen Tso's Chicken. :D Perhaps it should be renamed Gen Bonaparte's Chicken.

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Sounds like a french version of Gen Tso's Chicken. :D Perhaps it should be renamed Gen Bonaparte's Chicken.

As I was reading the descriptions above and thinking back to my experience the other night, I was thinking something similar! But put me in the camp of those that loved the dish (I also love General Tso's so take that for what it's worth!)

I went with two friends to celebrate the holiday, and overall we really enjoyed the evening. My friend that made the reservation received a confirmation call from Justin, and they discovered they were from the same town in Kansas (he recognized her area code), so he came over to chat when we arrived. We aren't typically cocktail gals (we go right to the wine!) but he sold us on their program, so we ordered a ride (in their fancy nitrogen chilled glasses). My French 75 was by no means adventurous, but it was really good.

The three of us then split 5 dishes and 1 dessert (plus a bottle of wine later). I want to say we ended up around $80 or so per person all in for 6 plates, 1 wine, and 3 cocktails. My best advice is to go in with a mindset to share. They're not exactly small plates but not exactly entrees. I would not have been satisfied with any one of these as my main course, but was glad to try some of all of them

  • Duck Egg Beignet - as with DPop's descirption above, this was recommended to us by the waiter, but we were a little underwhelmed (perhaps due to expetations). Not a bad dish by any means, but overshadowed by the others.
  • Turkey leg confit (endives, pecan, ranch) - I don't think this has been mentioned above, but we loved this dish. Is is presented as a salad (all mixed up together) and it was delicious. I don't know what seasoning is on the turkey outside of the listed ingredients (something curry maybe?), but it might've been my favorite flavor of the evening.
  • Squash vadouvan (olive cake, pistachio, mustard greens, coconut) - I was skeptical since I generally dislike olives, but this was another recommended dish, and as I should have expected, we all liked it. All the flavors and textures married nicely.
  • Scallop boudin blanc (snow pea, sauerkraut, sea bean, trout caviar) - I can totally appreciate this dish for what it is, even as I say it's not my cup of tea. Very interesting and unique, good flavor, but I'm not a huge fan of the texture.
  • Fried chicken "coq au vin" - I don't really have more to contribute than what has been stated above, but two thumbs up from me and I'd recommend. Also thought it was a fairly generous portion.
  • "s'mores" - you never know what to expect when an item is in quotation marks on a menu (and we did ask the waiter in advance what we were in for), but this was pretty awesome. Another definitely recommend. Rich chocolate cake topped with chocolate ice cream and graham cracker crumbles in a bowl, topped with a thin layer of marshmallow that has been toasted on top. The graham gives a nice textural contrast and everything just works so well together. 
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MichaelBDC and I made our much anticipated return to Convivial for a birthday celebration. Thanks to reviews by my fellow Rockwellians, we ordered very wisely and all of our dishes were outstanding.

I started the evening with a Seelbach cocktail, which combined two of my favorite alcoholic beverages: sparkling wine and bourbon while MichaelBDC had a glass of Syrah. We ordered the much talked about leeks dijonnaise and the pickled rockfish. The first bite of each dish made me say "wow." I would happily order either of them again, especially the rockfish. For entrees, MichaelBDC ordered the fried chicken coq au vin again while I ordered the scallop boudin blanc. I thought there was less sauce on the fried chicken coq au vin than what I remembered from our previous visit but MichaelBDC did not think there was a difference at all. In my mind, the smaller amount of sauce actually made the dish better as the stickiness and richness of the sauce did not contrast as much with the crunch of the chicken. I ordered the scallop boudin blanc for my entree and for me, it was the dish of the evening. The texture of the dish (kind of mousse-like) did not bother me at all and I loved the flavors of the dish, especially the contrast from the richness of the scallop boudin blanc and the sourness of the sauerkraut. I was a bit too full for dessert but decided to forge ahead with the key lime and speculoos pie. The pie sated my sweet tooth and also got the thumbs up from MichaelBDC who generally prefers tart desserts.

Last time we were at Convivial, we had two great dishes and two good dishes. This time, I would say we went 5/5 in outstanding dishes. Can't wait to try more items on the menu that others on this board have raved about.

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Not only is Convivial very good in terms of what arrives on the place or in the glass (not a dud in the bunch on our visit), but save for table availability it might also be the most accessible recent launch.  I thought the prices were very reasonable, but having gone for "initial birthday dinner" while the city was still messily digging out from Snowzilla, the fact that its building has garage parking with significant turnover (thanks to the supermarket next door) made this among the easiest winter parking spots around.  I see more visits to their bar in our future.

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I made my second visit to Convivial last week, and it is now one of my favorite DC restaurants.  I restrained myself from ordering the chicken as I was trying to keep things on the lighter side.  I did this with the wonderful boudin blanc and a very good bouillabaisse. Keeping it light meant there was room for dessert- milk chocolate creme brulee- which was just the thing for my gluten-free daughter-in-law.  We both loved it.

I wrote a blog post about Convivial in December, and feel just as passionate about this restaurant now. Next up, I hope to try it for brunch.

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If I had to compare this to another restaurant (I've never been to Mintwood Place, so I beg your pardon), I would say Convivial is essentially 'Central Lite'. 

Admittedly, we only had four dishes, but I'd think of Centrale as "Convivial lite."  My first impressions were much more impressive than my (entirely adequate) experiences at Central have been.

And we didn't even eat any of the favorites, contenting ourselves with the burger (long story), pickled rockfish (he makes the only cole slaw in DC as good as mine.  Plus, you know, the fish), boudin noir with chestnut puree (creates sort of a culinary earworm, so that you taste it over and over again the next day. But a good one, not like "My Humps" or "Billy, Don't be a hero" or something like that) and the Key Lime Pie (very swell, although my friend says that "Speculoos" cookies --used in the crust -- conjur unfortunate associations).

Cedric unchained is a force to be reckoned with.

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While DC figures quite highly in the 2016 JBF Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists, I am most pleased that Cedric Maupillier, Convivial, Washington, D.C. is in the running for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. I feel proud, though without investment other than being a long-time commercial building owner nearby, because he's such a nice guy and has brought such a quality restaurant to this section of Shaw which for some reason being so well-located was and is still one of the last to be...respected. Edited to dispel notion I'm involved with Convivial. :)

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I always feel that I am cheating myself a bit by going with one of my favorite comfort foods, Cedric's cassoulet, instead of one of the other entrees.  For instance, my wife had the grilled quail with green lentils, and that was a really simple and tasty dish.  I'm a bit bummed that I only got to visit Justin a few times there before he left after getting general operations rolling, but the cocktail program that he largely shaped is excellent and actually a value compared to other programs.  Of course, I am biased as he pretty much introduced me to mixed drinks back in the day, gotta pay your respects to the pioneers, but even without that bias I am quite certain I would still reach the same assessment of his skills.  I do look forward to sitting at the bar more and perhaps exploring more of Cedric's hot vegetable entrees, instead of sticking to cassoulet and veal tartare.    

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We enjoyed our dinner the other night. Allen (sp) and his partner whose name I did not catch were friendly, informed servers and decanted the 1er cru burg I brought in. The wine list markups varied from reasonable to absurd and wines btg could benefit from more choices.  We tried the hyped chicken which generally lived up to its billing, my wife thought it over sauced. The cassoulet was good but this is a dish that benefits greatly from a long, slow cooking time. The blue catfish bouillabaisse was ok, fresh seafood but not much pizzazz with the broth.  The starters of duck egg beignet and the fritter were both good. My wife liked the socca salad, no comment from me as I'm not a beet fan. Desserts of key lime pie and the sticky toffee pudding were very flavorful and quickly consumed. My only real complaint was the service of the good bread in a paper bag, whose idea was this??   Noise level pretty high as it was almost full and the fairly spare decor only increases the volume level...sigh. That said, I will look forward to a return visit. 

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While DC figures quite highly in the 2016 JBF Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists, I am most pleased that Cedric Maupillier, Convivial, Washington, D.C. is in the running for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. I feel proud, though without investment other than being a long-time commercial building owner nearby, because he's such a nice guy and has brought such a quality restaurant to this section of Shaw which for some reason being so well-located was and is still one of the last to be...respected. Edited to dispel notion I'm involved with Convivial. :)

Thank you, Lisa, and welcome to the community - Cedric strongly deserves his nomination, and it's good of you to support him. Convivial is *terrific*.

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I have a random question that's not big enough of a deal to warrant its own Help Needed thread.

erin79 will be meeting up with her friends at Convivial for brunch.  I'd like to take our 3 year-old son somewhere within close walking distance for a much more casual lunch.  The places that came to mind first (Dino, Zenebech, A Baked Joint) are all slightly too far away -- I will have just landed from a redeye after several days of fun in Vegas, so trying to minimize further transit.  Any other ideas?

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Both he and Kliman mention how portions are bigger than apps and smaller than entrees, with Sietsema calling it refreshing and not adhering to trends. This seems counter to everything I have encountered at restaurants recently. They are all providing "shareable" dishes that are smaller than entrees. And it is this trend that I am not quite getting. The Dabney, Sally's Middle Name to name just a few, also do this. And while their food may be delicious, along with Convivial's, I just don't get it.

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I have a random question that's not big enough of a deal to warrant its own Help Needed thread.

erin79 will be meeting up with her friends at Convivial for brunch.  I'd like to take our 3 year-old son somewhere within close walking distance for a much more casual lunch.  The places that came to mind first (Dino, Zenebech, A Baked Joint) are all slightly too far away -- I will have just landed from a redeye after several days of fun in Vegas, so trying to minimize further transit.  Any other ideas?

Is the Royal close enough? Or Shaw's Tavern? Or Kafe Bohem?

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I have a random question that's not big enough of a deal to warrant its own Help Needed thread.

erin79 will be meeting up with her friends at Convivial for brunch.  I'd like to take our 3 year-old son somewhere within close walking distance for a much more casual lunch.  The places that came to mind first (Dino, Zenebech, A Baked Joint) are all slightly too far away -- I will have just landed from a redeye after several days of fun in Vegas, so trying to minimize further transit.  Any other ideas?

what about sundevich (closed on sundays) or chaplin's (just okay...)

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Unfortunately, this would be on a Sunday.  The location of SUNdeVICH is otherwise perfect.

Is the Royal close enough? Or Shaw's Tavern? Or Kafe Bohem?

Thanks -- each of them appear to be in the 12 to 15 minute walk range as Dino/Zenebech and City Vista.

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I've kind of noticed a trend in Sietsema's reviews for a hot restaurant out of the gate. 3 stars with a " this is the best thing since sliced bread". Rose's got 3 stars when it first came out... and now it's been upgraded to four. I really think that there are politics at play in some of these reviews. If Convivial will eventually get four stars on say an upcoming dining guide, why not just award them out of the gate. 

And my two cents is that the restaurant is beautiful and full of ambiance. Surprised Sietsema did not have the same takeaway. 

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Wonderful first visit to Convivial this past Saturday night!  Four of us at the table and a first visit for each of us.  Ultimately we loved the vibe of the place.  We like that it was "fancy" food that you didn't have to get too dressed up for.  The crowd was a mix of 30-something to 60-something's, mostly couples and small groups.  We did not see any kids.  Everyone was having a good time, but no table was overly loud.  We were ale to hear each other over the din of our fellow diners without any issues.

We did three courses for the four of us as we made our way down the menu.  Most of the dishes we had have been mentioned above, and there was not any single dish that none of us liked.  There were two or three that we all thought were fantastic.

To start:  Tartiflette Fritter, Escargots in a blanket and the Latkes.  I loved each of these dishes, but especially the escargots which were served in a very delicate springroll wrapper with greens.  I would order all three of these again.

Second round:  Turkey Leg Confit, one of the best dishes of the night.  Was in everyone's top 3 as we all ranked our favorites throughout the evening.  We also had the Socca with Beets and the Leeks.  The leeks were the one dish I would not order again.  Last dish of this round was the Scallop Boudin Blanc.  This was one of my top 2 dishes of the night.  It has a very soft consistency and some folks won't like that.  I loved, loved, loved the trout roe that was served with this dish.  I would definitely order this again.

Third round:  2 orders of the Fried Chicken, the Cheeseburger and the Veal Blanquette.  The chicken was every bit as good as everyone says it is.  You really MUST try this dish if you visit.  The veal was incredibly tender, but this dish was a bit too rich for me.  I didn't partake of the cheeseburger, but was told it came to the table cold, which was not the case with any of the other hot dishes we were served.

For dessert we shared the Key Lime and Celebration cake.  The Celebration cake is served with a big sparkler that made for quite a fun presentation.  The Key Lime was the better dish.

For the quality of the food and the reputation of the chef, I found the prices to be very reasonable.  The food portion of our bill was $50 per person and we ate A LOT of food for that.  Cocktails are $12, which is in line with DC prices.  This is not cheap eats, but doesn't need to be saved for a special occasion either.

I look forward to my next opportunity to visit Convivial and hope I won't have to wait too long.

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We finally made it here. This acted as a stand in for our anniversary meal (which we rescheduled to tonight - yes!) as the place we wanted to go to lost their AC. Our AC at home was out too, so they graciously rebooked us.

Convivial was GREAT. Easy to get to and find parking nearby. Nice space, though we did not see the main seating area as we dined at a high top in the bar area. A little loud, but it worked and the seats were comfortable. Great service and good cocktails.

The sardine tartine was AMAZING. We also tried the leeks dijonnaise (I loved it, my wife thought it was too mustardy/pickly), the cauliflower blanc manger (good), the veal tartare (interesting presentation and not traditional at all - yum), the softshell crab meunieure with hazelnut grits (oh my, yum!), the grilled white perch with octopus and crab bisque (yes!) and of course the fried 'coq au vin' (yum). Sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

I will gladly go back again and again.

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First time at Convivial and we have a good to very good meal.  But to be honest, I wasn't Wow-ed.  Perhaps expectations have been built up?  or Monday nights are not the best time to go?

For us the stand out dishes were the sardine tartine, as you can see in Pool Boy's photos above, it's a fillet of sardine sitting on top of a really good sardine salad/mousse.  The grilled white perch was also excellent, perfectly cooked fish, tender octopus, cubes of jicama, and the crab bisque was rich and creamy with what we thought was a touch of curry heat and flavor, so I was wondering if perhaps some of the vadouvan gets added.  The mixed berry pie was also excellent, with a rich flake crust and nice big scoop of melty vanilla ice cream.

The brandade croquette was good and we liked the red pepper aioli sauce.  But I would probably try another "nibble" next time. 

The socca with the beets was the weakest dish of the night.  We liked the socca a lot, but the beets with the citrus, fennel and picholine was a bit of a mishmash, and oddly needed a hit of acid.  Even though this is listed as a cold dish, we actually thought the beet salad was not best served chilled, and perhaps would have been better at room temperature.

And now to the fried chicken...I thought it was a bit over sold, or over hyped.  The coq au vin glaze was kinda bland, with not much pop.  The dark meat was succulent and the white meat was stringy.  For such a rich and pleasing looking dish, the flavors were rather lackluster.  

Overall it was good to try Convivial, the menu has a lot of interesting sounding dishes, and with a veg/pescatarian gf, plenty of options.  I feel like I would be happy to go back, but I don't feel like I need to go back.  

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11 minutes ago, Tweaked said:

First time at Convivial and we have a good to very good meal.  But to be honest, I wasn't Wow-ed.  Perhaps expectations have been built up?  or Monday nights are not the best time to go?

Do you know if Cedric was in the kitchen? The man is a workaholic, but I doubt he works seven nights. As an aside, Justin Guthrie is no longer the GM.

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5 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Do you know if Cedric was in the kitchen? The man is a workaholic, but I doubt he works seven nights. As an aside, Justin Guthrie is no longer the GM.

I really enjoy Convivial, but think the Coq au Vin-ish chicken is way overhyped (including by the floor staff).

 

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I went on a Sunday night for  birthday dinner and Cedric and Dawn were both there. Blake is the GM now, and he was very charming and helpful. The chicken coq au vin was very tasty- plenty of smoky bacon flavor in the sauce. I had the Foie de Veau (calve's liver) which I really enjoyed.

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On 6/7/2016 at 1:37 PM, Tweaked said:

And now to the fried chicken...I thought it was a bit over sold, or over hyped.  The coq au vin glaze was kinda bland, with not much pop.  The dark meat was succulent and the white meat was stringy.  For such a rich and pleasing looking dish, the flavors were rather lackluster.  

On 6/7/2016 at 1:55 PM, Marty L. said:

I really enjoy Convivial, but think the Coq au Vin-ish chicken is way overhyped (including by the floor staff).

Absolutely agree. Really, really enjoyed our meal here, but the fried chicken didn't wow us.

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On 6/7/2016 at 1:37 PM, Tweaked said:

And now to the fried chicken...I thought it was a bit over sold, or over hyped.  The coq au vin glaze was kinda bland, with not much pop.  The dark meat was succulent and the white meat was stringy.  For such a rich and pleasing looking dish, the flavors were rather lackluster.  

On 6/7/2016 at 1:55 PM, Marty L. said:

I really enjoy Convivial, but think the Coq au Vin-ish chicken is way overhyped (including by the floor staff).

2 hours ago, lhollers said:

Absolutely agree. Really, really enjoyed our meal here, but the fried chicken didn't wow 

Since three of you chimed in: Are you *sure* your dislike isn't textural? I had no problems with the flavors at all; it was the sticky sauce against the thick, crispy batter (which slid right off the meat) that I found off-putting.

I want to reiterate: I love this restaurant, and found this dish to be an anomaly.

I also want to reiterate that Cedric spent 90 minutes talking with Mix when he had dinner there.

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As I said, i also found the flavor to be lackluster.  The plate is set in front of you and its covered with this colorful rich looking glaze and you expect this big burst of flavor...and there wasn't.  Above Mark mentions smoky bacon flavor in the sauce, nope didn't get that at all.  Add some very stringy, like strands of white meat, and the dish just didn't add up.  At least my order didn't.

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