Saturday, January 27, 2018

Convivial

Convivial, defined as "relating to or fond of feasting, drinking, and good company," is also the newest restaurant in Shaw from Chef Cedric Maupillier. Convivial brings diners to a table alive with the deep and provocative history of French cooking presented in a spirit of cheer and easy exploration. A menu of fully composed, mid-size dishes looks past both the traditional entrée and the tapas-like snack, allowing guests to assemble an individual, multi-course meal or to select a variety of dishes for everyone to share. Closest Metro is Mount Vernon Square - Convention Center.

April 2016: Keith and I trekked out to the south-end of the increasingly popular Shaw neighborhood for dinner at Convivial.  We enjoyed Mintwood Place, so I had high expectations for this new venture.  The restaurant itself was quite small inside, and very loud.  We sat a window table and quickly chose a bottle of 2014 Chateau de Fontenille, Entre Deux Mer from Bordeaux, France. This is exactly the kind of white wine I crave drinking all spring and summer long. Made from Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris, Semillon and Muscadelle the flavors and aromas combine snappy green apple, fresh cut grass, lemon oil and a hint of stone fruit. There is a light texture in the mouth with a good bite of clean acidity. This wine is great with seafood, goat cheeses, salads and grilled veggies and was the most reasonably priced on the menu at only $30.


Our server explained the menu concept and suggested two dishes per person.  First, we tried the Leeks Dijonnaise.  Served cold, this dish highlighted the light vegetable and provided a punch from the capers and dijon mustard.


Even better, we enjoyed the bright Pickled Rockfish.  Plated with green papaya, avocado, passionfruit, and winter radish, this dish had quite the punch of bright flavor.  It really had a lovely balance of acid and paired perfectly with our wine.


From the hot menu, we also shared the Scallop Boudin Blanc.  A mousse of scallops was formed into a sausage shape and topped with snow pea, sauerkraut, sea bean, and trout caviar.  This dish was delicate and very French.  There was loads of butter, and another favorite dish of the evening.


Lastly, we shared a fun twist on the French classic with Fried Chicken "Coq Au Vin".  The chicken was tender and juicy with a nice thick crust, and the coq au vin glaze had lots of flavor.  The sauce was a bit over reduced and salty, but not off putting.  Served with roasted carrots and potatoes, this dish was very filling and a solid main entree.


Keith wanted to try a dessert, so he chose the Vanilla Crème Brulee served with Black Meringue.  The dessert was typical, sweet, but we could have done with out it.

There are many more items on the menu that we'd like to try, so we hope to visit Convivial again.  Especially if they all are plated, seasoned, and presented in the same manner as the few we did try.  I am also curious to see if the options will change more regularly with the seasons.

January 2018:  We finally returned to Convivial; this time for Restaurant Week. It was a very busy Saturday night, but we were seated quickly and immediately studied the menu.  The RW deal was to choose 3 items from 5 categories (no duplicates in a category) for $35 per person.  We liked that we weren't forced to order a dessert, and decided to take advantage of that by sticking to all savory items. To keep with the French theme, I decided to splurge and ordered a bottle of 2014 
Château Cissac, Haut-Médoc Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend from Bordeaux.  This red wine was delightful with ripe jammy fruit rated at 93 points and was on the menu for $65.


First, Keith ordered the Fried Chicken Coq au Vin Mini Bites.  We remembered the full dish we ate the first time, which we enjoyed, and thought to give the mini version a try.  Served with a carrot puree, bacon, and parsley, these little fried nuggets were tasty but didn't have the same deep wine flavor as the traditional dish.  Keith found them to be underwhelming and nothing special.  However, I appreciated the generous portion and liked the meaty bites.


I ordered the Escargot in a Blanket served with garlic butter.  The presentation looked like little egg rolls, which were stuffed with chopped snail and lots of spinach.  Though the garlic flavor was nice, I would have liked the snail to be more forward for an authentic French experience.


After the nibbles, for a first course I ate the beautifully plated Burrata with confit bell pepper carpaccio, almonds, and espelette breadcrumbs.  The vegetarian dish was delicate and fun and had intense bell pepper flavor. I was surprised by the balance of textures and seasoning in this dish, and really loved it. 


Keith ate the Beef Tartare with crispy potato.  Instead of raw egg, there was crumbled boiled egg on top.  He would have preferred a little more creaminess, but the meat still had great flavor and the portion was another plentiful portion.


For my main course, I ordered the Bouillabaisse.  Fresh pieces of sea bass, prawn, clams, mussels, and octopus were then covered in a very light tomato-saffron broth.  While the fish were cooked perfectly and were nice and tender, I found the soup to be a bit bland overall. 


Keith ordered an Alsacian special called La Choucroute Garnie.  This traditional French and German dish is composed of fermented white cabbage cooked in a dry Riesling wine with a lot of different cuts of the pork and sausage, both smoked and brined. If you are a pork-lover, this dish is for you.

Though it had been two years since our first visit, we were still impressed with the food and left incredibly full and satisfied.
 
Total Rating: 4.53
Food: 5, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 4.5
What Micky Eats...

Convival Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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