Review for Convivial: A Creative and Fun Bistro in Shaw
Convivial from Mintwood's Cedric Maupillier is refreshing and fun with creative dishes and new twists on classic cocktails. Add this bistro in Shaw to your dining out to do!
When to go to Convivial
Since opening in December, Convivial has been all the buzz. For hot spots in town, Sunday seems to be the best bet especially in the early evening. At 6:00pm, three seats at the bar was totally doable. By 7:00pm, the place was packed. Our bartender Patrick took perfect care of us and Chef Cedric was present mingling with other diners.
Drink Lessons: A Buck is like a Mule
I love a good cocktail and, more than that, I love learning about cocktails. A bartender who will take the time to explain a drink to you on a busy day receives major points in my book. It makes a real difference in the experience.
When I sat down, the first thing I looked at was the cocktail menu. There is a limited version of the cocktail list on the website, but the in-person list is more expansive. The first category on the menu is "buck", which was unfamiliar to me. Our gracious bartender explained that it's basically a cocktail with citrus and ginger beer. Aha. So it's like a moscow mule and in DIY Cocktails, Marcia Simmons confirmed what I just discovered:
The only consistent thing about cocktail nomenclature and history is that it's often unclear. What started out as a Buck later became known as a Mule. No need to keep them straight, since they're two different names for the same thing -- liquor mixed with citrus and ginger ale or ginger beer...the Moscow Mule [is] the cocktail many credit with changing what was previously known as a Buck into a Mule and making vodka a player on the cocktail scene...The predecessor to the Moscow Mule was made with gin, like many signature drinks.
(Simmons, Halpren, 2011, p.191)
I picked the Gentlemen's Buck with bourbon, lime, orange juice, ginger, soda and angostura bitters. Anything with bitters always feels fancy to me and I was feeling fancy! This refreshing beverage would beat a mimosa any day of the week. With just the right amount of acid, the Gentlemen's Buck was well-balanced and my companions said it best, "a boozy orange crush." I'd go back just to have another one of these.
Latke, Celery Root, Dry Cured Lamb
I still think the best latkes are at DGS Delicatessen, however, this mini-latke is a close second. It reminded me of a dollar pancake and had a distinct crispness. The lamb was finely shaved like a proscuitto. This bite-sized munchie melts right in your mouth and is not to be missed!
Cauliflower Blanc-Manger, Tabbouleh, Almond, Pomelo, Herb Salad
Until this experience at Convivial, I never had a tabbouleh I liked. I've found it to be lackluster in flavor, but this brilliant medley of citrus, cauliflower and generous addition of fresh herbs had our spoons clashing as we fought to lick the bowl. Thankfully our friends at EdibleDC shared my infatuation and were able to get Chef Cedric Maupillier's recipe!
Scallop Mousseline, Snow Pea, Sauerkraut, Sea Bean, Trout Caviar
One of the most popular dishes on the menu is the scallop mousseline, which is like a sausage made of scallops. It was actually originally called a "scallop sausage" but there confused diners thinking there was sausage in this dish caused the restaurant to re-brand it as "scallop mousseline". Naming aside, this clever invention would taught some Top Chefs from Season 10 a thing or two about cooking with scallops.
Fried Chicken "Coq Au Vin"
Hot Sticky Toffee Pudding and Maple Ice Cream
Maple is one of my favorite flavors that goes well in a bourbon cocktail and in an ice cream. A hot-cold dessert combination is the bee's knees so I had to check out this hot toffee topped with maple ice cream at Convivial. Since it was sweet, there was plenty to share. It paired perfectly with Gonet Medeville champagne. It was a fantastic end to a delicious experience.
The veal tartare with poutarge, cancoillotte, oyster leaf, argan oil had a nice crunch from niçoise olive crackers.
Escargots in a Blanket
I had my first snails experience. Although, it could have been my second. My first would have been at Mintwood, which is appropriate since it's the same restaurateurs. They looked like an egg roll and had a nice crunch. Given the richness of the escargots, I thought deep frying it was overkill so I didn't finish mine. That could just be my lack of refined taste.
The cured arctic char, tarama with apple & elderberry dye was a light starter that lets the flavors of the fish shine through.
Bartender Patrick said that his favorite dish was the grilled daurade so I had high hopes. This was the only thing we had that missed the mark. Layered with ratatouille on the bottom, fish, and then topped by a zucchini tempura with tapenade, the flavors and temperatures didn't meld. I won't hold it against them though. Everything else was so good that I couldn't possibly.
My mouth is already watering from their brunch pics on Instagram so you can expect to hear more from me about Convivial.
Simmons, M., & Halpren, J. (2011). DIY cocktails: A simple guide to creating your own signature drinks. Avon, MA: Adams Media.