Saturday night we headed to CONVIVIAL just behind the Convention Center where Chef Cedric Maupillier has set up his new top rated dining spot, and it's no surprise why he gets consistent raves.
The four of us sat down and perused the menu which our courteous server Stephane explained as broken into three major categories of Nibbles, Cold & Hot with each dish being about the same size and begging to be shared. The four of us (well, maybe not Samuel) were excited about so many options and tried to narrow it down as we ordered some bottle water. we couldn't have been happier when the BADOIT arrived as it tends to be rare and costly ($6 here, not so bad) in the USA.
Yummy bread arrived in small paper bag as olive oil was poured, and we tried to resist, knowing that a lot was to come.
We ordered a bottle of Domaine de la Rossignole "Cuvee Vieilles Vignes" 2014 Sancerre, super tasty dry wine, that arrived a bit to chilly for my taste, but left on the table came around to the perfect temperature when our first nibbles arrived:
BRANDADE CROQUETTE were cooked perfectly and richly filled with cod and served over a red pepper puree
LATKE with Celery Root & Dry Cured Lamb were four adorable pieces full of flavor and topped with a small piece of the lamb for added flavor. I have to make these next Hannuka!
The winning dish was Stephane's suggestion (he always chose perfectly): DUCK EGG BEIGNET with Piperade ( a dipping sauce of tomato & red pepper) with feat. A photo of these wonders can be seen on my FB page as the stand erect in the sauce as crispy fried treats filled with egg perfection.
Chef Cedric uses his sauces here as great accents and not being afraid of a little spice here and there as well.
We next chose several COLD dishes which began with a divine CURED ARCTIC CHAR with Tarama, Apple, Elderberry Dye & Shoots. This is sushi gone classy French/Greek/who knows what, but we loved it. The apple was the perfect foil and the tarama is always a winner at our table.
SOCCA is a large Chickpea Gallette served with Shaved Beets, Orange, Shaved Fennel & Picholine Olive and is a real flavorful dish that doesn't seem to come from anywhere, but tastes great.
The cold winner was easily the VEAL TARTARE which Samuel insisted on not only having his own, but taking part of ours. The dish is served with Pontargue (Mullet Roe--usually botarga), Cancoillotte(Cheese), Oyster Leaf, Argan Oil with Nicoise Olive Cracker. This dish can win a tartare prize just for the elements such as the oyster leaf which while a green indeed tastes like an oyster after a bit!
We moved onto red wine in the form of a Domaine du Pourra "La Reserve" Gigondas from 2007. Bravos, kudos and more go the team that got this perfectly aged wine that Stephane opened to breath for an hour before as well. It was aged magnificently and is drinking superbly now. Our "hot" dishes were indeed hefty, so this was a winner pairing with a creamy finish and bright fruit bearing up against the softened tannins.
FRIED CHICKEN "COQ AU VIN" was right up Samuel's alley and this treat is glazed with the coq au vin sauce and then served over a similarly glazed potato. Samuel was kind enough to share a small bite.
The BEEF POT AU FEU is made with yummy Cheek, Tongue and a slightly chewy piece of Tendon with Bone Marrow and the hot broth is poured over these tableside with a Sauce Gribiche on the side. The PETIT CASSOULET is a gem with Sausage, Pork Belly, Duck & Bacon(?) covered with bread crumbs and cooked perfectly. Anyone from Toulouse would rave!
The vegetable dish we chose was also a winner:BARLEY PILAF with SUNCHOKES, Lemon, Cashew, Goat Cheese Curd and shaved crunchy sunchokes on top.
Dessert is a winner here, so save room for a number if you can:
HOT STICKY TOFFEE Pudding with Maple Ice Cream had Will reminiscent of Yorkshire.
KEY LIME & SPECULOOS PIE is a fun take on the American dish with the Flemish cookie treat.
CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING with Bourbon Sauce & Rum Raisin Ice will please the pickiest bread pudding connoisseur
but my favorite was the VANILLA CREME BRULEE which was a perfect brulee that won because of it's BLACK MERINGUE "bark" piled on top like sticks.
We left full, happy and OH SO CONVIVIAL that we found a new hit dining spot in DC.