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MichaelBDC

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

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I went to Convivial for the first time during Restaurant Week and enjoyed an exceptional meal at the bar. We were given the choice of three courses for $35, choosing one item from three of the five different categories. From the first section, I ordered the brandade, a rich, satisfying starter of salted cod, potatoes, creme friache and rustic bread tuile. My friend had the confit duck gizzards with puy lentils and a duck egg. We shared these dishes, and I loved them both. If I could only have one, however, I'd order the confit.

For the second courses, I had bouillabaisse (with sea bass, prawn, crab, scallop, clam, mussel and  octopus), and my friend ordered the daurade, with sauteed squid, celery root and sofrito. Again, my companion edged me out with his ordering skills. The bouillabaisse was fantastic, but the daurade was by far my favorite dish of the night. Unfortunately, my blurry photo does not do justice to this wonderful dish.

We ended our meal with two cheese courses--actually the cheese ended up in a take-home bag as we were already stuffed when it arrived. The tasting menu would have been the perfect amount of food for us, had we not ordered one extra item from the nibble section--the latke, two portions each of celery root and dried lamb, and whitefish salad and golden caviar. This dish was good, but not necessary with all of the other courses that came after.

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5 hours ago, DIShGo said:

I went to Convivial for the first time during Restaurant Week and enjoyed an exceptional meal at the bar.

Convivial did Restaurant Week as well as any restaurant that I've ever experienced - the entire menu was available (with very few supplements), and that Fougasse on the left (served fresh from the oven in that paper bag) is fantastic - Cedric Maupillier is a great chef (and Dawn Swaney, who was also there, is a great Sous Chef). It's a shame the photo of the Daurade didn't come out, because that might have been the Dish of the Night - it was executed, as fish is so rarely executed: with a perfectly crisp sear on the outside, and a barely-warm stringiness on the inside - it's hard to convey how great this fish was, because it just looks like a blurry piece of fish (note also the celery root purée). One thing's for sure: This was not cooked sous-vide, not unless there was Divine Intervention.

Those Latkes ($12) with celery root and dry-cured lamb, whitefish salad, and golden caviar - might not look like much, but they were a fantastic way to start the meal (we added those on as an extra course to start with a French 75 and a Gimlet).

I had high expectations going in, and they were surpassed. The place was *packed*, too.

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I read through the thread but have never been to Convivial and now am bringing a large group of 17 for a business dinner in a couple of weeks. What are the best dishes/drinks/desserts to not be missed?

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21 minutes ago, KeithA said:

I read through the thread but have never been to Convivial and now am bringing a large group of 17 for a business dinner in a couple of weeks. What are the best dishes/drinks/desserts to not be missed?

Convivial prepares fish - especially Mediterranean fish - really well. I'm in a minority of one when it comes to their Fried Chicken Coq au Vin - I think it's gimmicky, and I don't like it, but wouldn't you know it's their best seller.

Even though that picture is blurry, the daurade up above was the dish of the night

Definitely revel in the free fougasse you get at the beginning of the meal.

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1 hour ago, JimCo said:

Minority of two. I thought the sauce made the breading soft and didn't really enjoy it.

three

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* I didn't dislike the fried chicken, however it was disappointing to me after hearing it lauded as one of the best dishes in DC : I think it was Washingtonian's dish of the year, and also featured on the Post's list. 

My meal overall there about a year ago left me a *tad* underwhelmed but in fairness it was at Sunday 9:00PM on the second week extension of "restaurant week" in the middle of the Super Bowl... I certainly need to check it out again under more normal circumstances.

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The fried Coq au Vin is no longer on the menu.  The chicken dish is the Poulet Rouge for two.  It is one of if not the best roasted chickens that I have ever eaten.  Except for the drums it is deboned and pressed with something heavy while cooking.  This produces a skin with an incredible crispy and crunchy texture.  The tarragon vinegar sauce rounds the dish out nicely. 

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On 3/14/2018 at 9:35 AM, DonRocks said:

Convivial prepares fish - especially Mediterranean fish - really well. I'm in a minority of one when it comes to their Fried Chicken Coq au Vin - I think it's gimmicky, and I don't like it, but wouldn't you know it's their best seller.

Even though that picture is blurry, the daurade up above was the dish of the night

Definitely revel in the free fougasse you get at the beginning of the meal.

They've eliminated the free bread unfortunately

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9 hours ago, funkyfood said:

They've eliminated the free bread unfortunately

Bummer.  But worthwhile bread speaks for itself as does retaining and compensating a capable bread-making employee who can passionately turn humble ingredients into something people crave.

And then there are the purists to remind bread enthusiasts that certain breads demand considerable dedication to otherwise simple elements.

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A group of 10 or so former co-workers gathered last Sunday to reminisce and catch up. It was a moderately scattered and loud affair and Convivial handled it VERY well. 

I couldn't resist ordering the pickled rockfish again, one of my favorite items on the menu. The plating has changed (instead of cubes or rockfish, they were neat little filets) but the dish remained as refreshing and delicious as I remembered. I couldn't resist ordering the Moulard Duck Breast with cherries, turnips, and mustard greens for our entree. The size of the dishes were very generous and It was too much food for me, but it was all so good!

My former colleagues seemed to all enjoy their meals too and we had a great time. 

Thanks to Convivial for accommodating our lively bunch. I would definitely recommend for a large group. 

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We've pretty much decided to go here for dinner next weekend (Sat 10/6) and have made reservations.  Sounds like our type of place.

 

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It was our type of place.  This was a very good meal.  The red wine we ordered was a bit overpriced and undergood for what we wanted ($60 - I believe it was a Languedoc Carrignan/Syrah blend from Domaine du Pas De L'Escalette 2013) but the food was outstanding.  We started by ordering the garlic bread with a tomato based dipping sauce that was really good and really garlicy.  Nice.  The "escargot in a blanket" app. that Ginny ordered was not what was expected & was a major winner.  The escargot were chopped and wrapped inside more of a thin egg roll shell, crispy and non-greasy.  Four pieces.  My more traditional smoked Herring app w/potato salad was also excellent and the potato salad was a solid inventive component of the dish as opposed to simply a dollop of a usual style.  Ginny's duck slices were served with alternating slices of turnip and she loved it enough that I never got to taste any.  My bouillabaisse was  comprised of shellfish, a large head on shrimp (prawn?), some potato slices and 4 fillets of various fresh tasty fish.  All very good and unexpectedly generous.  The broth was not very rich and not a stand out, but the dish overall was a winner (yes, a piece of hard bread w/roux was there as well).  We split a 3 cheese plate for dessert and all were perfect.  With tip, we were a little over $100pp, putting it in the "new normal" range for a good meal in a moderate NYC place.  However, the food here was better than that level and we'd go back if/when we return to D.C.    Only 3 blocks or so from Dino's, I can easily see eating in both places (very different, but both very notable) regularly if we lived in Shaw or surrounding areas.

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Another family trip means another dinner at Convivial. At this point, my family thinks I am playing favorites if I don't take them to Convivial when they come to visit. 

Our group of four started with the leeks dijonnaise, pickled rockfish, and beef tartare. All were excellent, and my family really liked the leeks dijonnaise. Just realized while typing this out that we ended up with all cold appetizers. No wonder everything tasted so refreshing! We then split three entrees: roasted Parisian gnocchi, moulard duck breast, and steak with kale au jus, blue cheese, walnuts, and crispy onion. The duck breast was my favorite dish of the evening. The duck was cooked perfectly with turnips and mustard greens. @MichaelBDC loved the gnocchi, which was a bit crispy and served with mushrooms mousseline and fricasse. My aunt remarked that the crispiness of the gnocchi reminded her of tater tots. The steak was a favorite of my aunt, a beef lover. I really enjoyed the blue cheese that came with it. To finish off the meal, the four of us split the celebration profiteroles with the sparkler. Five profiteroles total, definitely enough for us to split.

As a side note, @MichaelBDC and I ran into Cedric at the host stand when we checked into dinner and @MichaelBDC used this opportunity to express his disappointment that the fried chicken coq au vin is no longer on the menu. Cedric said that about 40% of the people who ordered it were upset with the dish because they were expecting coq au vin, another 40% expressed disappointment that it wasn't truly fried chicken, and only about 20% of people liked the dish. 

 

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The chicken explanation seems right on target & I would’ve been the perfect example of the problem.  I love chicken & eat quite a lot of it. Not Wade Boggs level (he reportedly ate it for dinner every day), but pretty damn regularly.  So, having read about it but before knowing that they’d taken it off the menu, I had already decided I’d order it when we were there.  However, I’d already wondered if the chef wasn’t going to disappoint me by failing to provide either coq au vin or fried chicken, but serve a too cute Frankenstein creation that goes amok.  In a way, I was glad it was gone, allowing me to order something else.

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Guess who doesn’t read this forum?
 
Quote

Q.  Hi Tom! The last time I had coq au vin was at Balthazar in NYC around December 2015. It was a memorable and dreamy experience I’d like to try and replicate now that the temperatures are dropping in the district. Have you had the dish locally? Or do you have a personal favorite meal you prefer for colder evenings?

A.  It's not traditional, but the coq au vin as prepared by chef Cedric Maupllier at Convivial is definitely delicious. He fries the chicken instead of braising it, then flavors the entree in classical fashion with mushrooms, carrots and lardons. 
 

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37 minutes ago, Ericandblueboy said:
Guess who doesn’t read this forum?

Somebody corrected him later in the chat.

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Run--don't walk--to Convivial for the daurade. If I were on death row, this dish would be a contender for my last meal. Perfection.

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A very nice brunch was had at Convivial, in fact I would elevate it to one of the better brunch choices in DC.

We started with a tasty burrata and greens dish.  It included a wedge of roasted winter squash, which seemed unneeded. 

The roasted cauliflower was also good, even if the pureed beet sauce was oddly sweet.

The yard long slice of quiche should definitely be considered.  Served on a bed of dressed greens, the pastry crust is buttery rich and the eggs soft and custardy.

Convivial also serves a very good bloody Mary.

Cedric was in civilian clothes at the host stand and keeping an eye on the floor.

We walked out into the sleet and rain happy and full.

Convivial Burrata.jpg

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