If Momofuku and The Dabney had two of the hotter restaurant openings in DC this fall, then Convivial flew under the radar. The new restaurant, at City Market at O in Shaw is by the folks behind Mintwood Place. That’s a plus because everyone seems to love Mintwood Place, but while I’ve enjoyed meals at MP, I can’t say that I’ve been wowed. Maybe I ordered poorly or had an off day? Nonetheless, it’s not a place that’s on the top of my “must” list. So Convivial …?
On a Wednesday evening, with snow still piled up next to the sidewalks, Convivial was busy, but also cozy. With a cute open square bar and tables in the other rooms, the place had a nice buzz, but it wasn’t crazy. Perfect for dinner to catch up with a girlfriend. Mel had been before, so she warned that the plates were large.
We decided on 2 cold plates and 2 hot plates, so 2 smaller-sized dishes and two more entree-sized ones. And our ordering turned out to be very French in style.
The veal tartare was delicious and definitely tasted hand-cut, with texture and bite. And a serving that was not only beautifully presented, it was large enough and rich enough to be my entire meal. Seriously, next time, I’m going to order that and a glass of wine. What a dinner that would be!
The leeks dijonnais looked like they were on a piece of flatbread, but no, those were just the leeks, beautifully arranged. Also a thumbs-up, at least until I wondered if the tiny flecks of yellow were actually egg yolk. At just the thought, I had to stop eating the dish.
The scallop boudin blanc had the texture of a scallop flan, rich, creamy, melt in your mouth. Amazing. And the wilted greens were great, adding a texture and, if this is possible, flavor.
The petit cassoulet? Well, at this point, I was already full. I had a few spoons of the cassoulet, with its tender, yet not mushy white beans, various pork flavors and loved it. Alas, I couldn’t have more than a few tastes. I was truly overwhelmed.
So next time, order two smaller plates and one larger one.
And the wine? My kind of list. Reasonably priced, with plenty of bottles in the $50-$65 range, and interesting wines, too. A heavy emphasis on French and American wines, again, my sweet spot. And when we asked about a viognier, our server offered to pour us each a taste. Now, that’s wine service I can get used to!
Counting the days until another dinner at Convivial ….