First Taste: Convivial

First Taste: Convivial

Chef Cedric Maupillier, who got his start under the world renowned Michel Richard before taking the reigns at Central, then opening his own spot Mintwood Place, is now knocking our socks off with deliciously creative dishes at Convivial, in Shaw at the City Market at O complex.

Opening to the public for reservations on Friday, November 6th, we were able to not only get a sneak peak at the inside, but sample some of the amazing dishes!

For starters, the space is beautiful.

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Very open and intimate, almost the opposite vibe that Mintwood gives.

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The expansive bar will boast a significant cocktail selection as well.

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The food is out of this world! Here are a few of our favorite things.

The bread was hot and fresh, but don’t waste too much time with that.

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The “sardine tartine” knocked us away. Delicate and salty sardine fillets on top of tartine of sardine on a toasted baguette. Strong in the best way possible!

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“Escargot in a blanket” was so creative. Chicken liver mousse surrounds escargot and herbs in a light fried wrapper. French eggrolls basically!

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The “Spanish Mackerel Escabeche” was not strong at all, which was a nice surprise. This was the first time they served this dish, so hopefully they’ll add a touch of vinegar and citrus to brighten up the flavor a bit. But even without it, superb!

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“Veal tartare” was smooth and mild. Extremely refreshing. If you like tartare you’ll love this.

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“Chesapeake Blue Catfish Bouillabaisse” was so delicate we loved it. The warm broth, the huge tender chunks of catfish under perfectly, and I mean perfectly cooked clams, mussels, and a head on shrimp. We wanted a bit of heat, so smuggle in some hot sauce! But wow, the flavors tasted like this broth was simmering for days. Perfect for these chilly nights coming up.

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“Boudin noire raviole” were great! Although a bit more like a dumpling or a perogi than a traditional Italian ravioli, the boudin was cooked perfectly and well seasoned while the pasta was al dente and the sauce rich and luxurious.

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The calf liver dish was very interesting. Gorgeous in it’s meaty presentation, stacked on toasted bread with piles of thinly shaved Serrano ham on top with shallot and a “winter vegetable”, it was definitely not what was expected. Eaten with a knife and a fork, the liver was perfectly cooked, which was a pleasant surprise given how thick it was sliced. Personally, a thinly sliced liver with simple sauteed mixed onions in a more composed dish was what we were seeking. Nevertheless, it was good, cooked perfectly, and would make a great bar bite next time we go!

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Lastly, the showstopper, the thing we would have eaten by the bucket, the “Fried Chicken ‘Coq Au Vin.'” Yes, you read that correctly. Not just any old fried chicken, that bad boy is cooked in a pressure fryer, but not any pressure fryer. This is cooked in a Henny Penny pressure fryer that costs more than most teenagers first car. But damn it’s worth it. Crispy exterior, tender and juicy in the middle in a reduction sauce that is rich and salty in the best way. Topped with mushrooms and onions on a bed of delicate potatoes, this was the best thing we had all night.

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What are you waiting for?!? Get there on Friday when they officially open to the public!

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