Convivial

After a long day of getting shit done, I was ready to party with the fam and, more importantly, I was ready to eat. And also drink. They had a few good sounding beers, from which my husband selected the DuClaw pumpkin stout, while I ordered the Bourbon Renewal cocktail, which was light and fruity with still a strong hint of bourbon barrel.

We started with the garlic bread. At first it looked like two tiny discs but was actually plenty for everyone once they were split up. The bread was flat, crusty, and crunchy with plenty of garlic and that delicious tomato-olive emulsion that made my day. I would call the garlic bread deceptively good. It was also worth paying for, unlike the bread at Chloe.

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My father-in-law ordered the steak frites and my husband’s grandma got the steak frites but wanted mashed potatoes instead. So I guess, just steak non-frite? My mother-in-law, true to form, ordered the vegetarian quiche. I can’t judge, however, because I, too, am a creature of habit and my habit just so happens to be duck. Last but not least, my husband had what Convivial calls Choucroute Garnie Alsacienne, but which a normal person might call “a bunch of sausages on top of sauerkraut,” but which I will henceforth refer to as meat feast.

Let’s start with steak. Grandma ordered it “medium” before amending that to “medium-well.” Fortunately for Convivial’s reputation [and Grandma’s tastebuds], the steak that showed up was nowhere close to well-done and you bet your ass she didn’t complain about it. The steaks were served with a peppercorn gravy, charred green beans, and frites that were pretty normal. There were some slightly too-lean bites of meat but for such a thin cut, it was fantastic.

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This long, snake-like thing is quiche. I was impressed with it too, despite its weird shape (long quiche???) I mean, it’s sort of hard to mess up butter, cheese, and eggs, but the filling was exceptionally light and moussey, though also very light on the veggies.

Here’s my duck breast. There are supposed to be mustard greens on the plate and there were like…two leaves. See if you can spot them!

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I’ve eaten so much duck at this point I might as well be a fox. That shit is delicious. But this pile o’ duck is some of the best I’ve had–not a bit chewy, all crispy on the outside and bathing in sweet-sour orange sauce. Would have appreciated a few more leaves so that I didn’t feel like quite such a fatty, but I’ll take it.

Story time: a few years back, on the BMW factory tour in Munich, my husband and I met a German college student who had recently studied abroad in Texas. “How was that?” I’d asked him. “Well, my city had lots of Germans and an annual Wurst Fest. A sausage fest!” he added, then laughed in the most German way possible. Did he know that wurst fest doesn’t really translate to English? We’ll never know. But…if it did, this is what it would look like:

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This is Choucroute Garnie aka Sausage Fest aka MEAT FEAST. Tart sauerkraut topped with excessive amounts of pork. I couldn’t hope to name or describe all of these sausages. I will say that the white one in the top left, which I believe was chicken-based, was pretty bland, but that the darker red one was extremely smokey, and that my husband’s favorite meats were actually the non-sausage slices of smoked pork loin. This was delicious but probably not a great option.

A warning to anyone thinking of going: locate the bathrooms as you walk in. I almost walked into the kitchen twice trying to find a place to pee, and before you suggest it–no, I only had one drink and had all my wits about me.

Price: $50 per person.

Bottom line: Convivial is a solid option for a nice date night or impressive dinner when your parents are in town. They have enough options that everybody can find something they like regardless of tastes.

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