Convivial, Washington DC.

May 2019

We searched online to find the best restaurants this not-particularly-culinary town, and this one came up as one of them and it also, unlike most of the others, served lunch. We made our way over there within walking distance of our air B&B, and were surprised at the apparently simple physical plant. It felt like a diner or basic restaurant in a small town: worn tables, fluorescent lighting, no particular effort at décor or atmosphere.

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We enjoyed chatting with the server who was a pony-tailed young middle-aged guy who’d spent some time in France and explained that the chef, Cedric Maupillier, is from Toulon (near where we spent a year a couple of decades ago), which would explain the French feel to the menu.

We started by sharing a Lyonnaise salad, which was lovely with bacon and egg and a straightforward perfectly-pitched vinaigrette. After discussing it sincerely with our server, Robin had the burger. I went for the mariniere version of moules frites (the other one being a chorizo number).

The food was just an excellent simple genuine French bistrot treat. Robin’s burger was medium rare and soft, full of delicious vegetable and sauce. There was a not-particularly-classy plastic container of extra mayo on the table but independent of the aesthetics it really helped us enjoy the crisp hot fries that accompanied both main courses. My mussels were perfectly steamed fat little morsels, very numerous (more than I’ve ever had ordering this dish), with thyme, carrots, onions, and a rich stock for which at the end I requested and received some fresh baguette to soak up the beautiful liquid.

We drank a cheerful chenin blanc from the Loire which was a bargain at $55.

What a satisfying food experience in a very understated environment. No reason not to go back to this place if we were ever in town again, particularly since you can get lunch here and prices are completely reasonable.

Food 9.2, service 8.0, ambience 7.0, value 8.5, peace and quiet 8.3.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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