I feel like we haven’t eaten somewhere new in DC since…March? When we went to Tail Up Goat. Wow. That’s a long time.
So, for my birthday, and to work our way through Washingtonian’s 100 Top Restaurants list (we have a lot of eating to do), we headed to Convivial. Convivial is a new restaurant by Chef Cedric Maupillier, best known in DC for Mintwood Place. Mintwood Place has my favorite brunch dish in all of Washington–eggs, bacon, cheese, potatoes piled up on top of one another. It’s the Hangover Special, and trust me–no hangover required to dive into that greasiness.
Convivial is located in Shaw, where there are a ton of new restaurants popping up. It has a pretty nice patio area, but it was looking like rain when we came in, so we opted to eat inside. The service was friendly, not at all hovering or pretentious, and really knowledgeable about the dishes and what would go well together. Most things are small plates, though the main courses aren’t that small. Definitely large enough for sharing. We had 2 starters and 3 ‘main-ish’ courses. Plus desert.
To start, we had the mixed heirloom tomato salad. Mainly because the menu listed cheese curds. Cheese curds are one of the few items that I cannot eat responsibly. I believe cheese curds are a meal. And I–with no shame–can eat an entire container of cheese curds without thinking twice. Cheese curds! The tomatoes were definitely some of the sweetest I’ve had all summer. Add some cheese? You have a winner. But, let’s be honest, no one goes to a new restaurant to eat tomatoes and cheese.
So we also had the tartiflette fritters (listed as “nibbles” on the menu, but they were great for 2 to share). We didn’t know what tartiflette was (though the menu kindly contained some handy definitions on the back), but it is essentially potatoes, cheese, and onions. I think these fritters also had some bacon. How can you go wrong with potatoes, cheese, onions, and bacon? You can’t, you just can’t. Delicious.
Now on to the more main courses. First up was the skate wing, with an octopus and crab bisque. This dish stole my heart (and most of the room in my stomach). The skate was decadent–I eat skate with relative frequency, and this skate ranked among the best. It was perfectly cooked, not over seasoned, and downright delicious. But it got even better with the octopus and crab bisque. DH said he did have on piece of octopus that was a bit fishy, but every bite I had was perfect. Nomnom.
Still, we had two more dishes + dessert to get through. The Provencale beef and chard ravoli and the coq au vin fried chicken came out at the same time. Convivial has become known for the coq au vin fried chicken–which, don’t get me wrong, was delicious. But I can only do so much “fried” and started picking off the breading to get to the exceptionally tender and well-flavored meat. Now the beef and chard was a close second to the skate: the ravoli was just a bit sweet and tart with the chard, really savory. Mixed with some tender beef and Parmesan cheese, it was a perfect combination. I’d definitely order that again.
Lastly, even though we were stuffed to the brim, we had dessert. DH has creme brulee, but I opted for key lime pie. It definitely was made with real key limes, and had the most delicious crust–probably because it was mainly brown sugar. I’m not a dessert person, but I’m glad I changed my mind and gave it a shot. It was good.
All in all, I think we’d probably return to Convivial, but may wait to see if they have a seasonal menu change. The menu isn’t expansive, and there weren’t that many dishes on the menu that we didn’t try that I am really interested in. But I’m guessing they make seasonal adjustments, since many of their ingredients are definitely “summer” ingredients. I hope so.