Banking on the premise that laptop-bound customers want more than a tepid pastry from a coffee shop, Convivial chef and owner Cedric Maupillier will start serving lunch at his celebrated French-American cafe in Shaw next week.
Convivial’s lunch menu will introduce Maupillier’s versions of a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup, mussels mariniere, and trout amandine to the restaurant along with dishes already served at dinner and weekend brunch.
Maupillier tells Eater he expects egg sandwiches served on potato rolls and Cobb salads to be popular orders. A range of sandwiches and tartines includes fried chicken, burgers, and whitefish salad. Cocktails and desserts — there are profiteroles and marshmallow brulee “smores” — will be available for people who don’t mind indulging early in the day at the Essential 38 pick.
Here’s a look at the new lunch menu that will be available starting Monday, February 4:
Convivial lunch menu by on Scribd
Since Convivial opened in December 2015, Maupillier says he’s kept an idea for lunch service in the back of his head. But, with help from the glowing reviews of Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema, the owner says the place got so slammed at night that his staff needed all the daylight it could get to prep. He also says Convivial’s location in Shaw excluded it from a business-heavy crowd to dines out during days downtown.
But Maupillier says Shaw has continued to grow, and he has a built-in customer base thanks to people staying at the Cambria hotel that shares the City Market at O building with the restaurant. He also notices how many people seem to be working remotely these days.
“I want to take away from a little bit the coffee shops,” he says. “I see people parking themselves at Starbucks, La Colombe, or are friends at Compass Coffee. I think there’s a different option for [something] little bit more refined.”
Maupillier says serving lunch will help him connect more with locals in his neighborhood as opposed to a touristy or scene-y crowd that finds out about the place in reviews.
He’s even bandying about the idea of opening the restaurant at 9:30 a.m. once the weather improves in the in the spring. Although it’s just talk for now, he has it all worked out in his head: He’d serve a limited menu of maybe eggs, a cinnamon bun, and pain au chocolat, and run the entire service.
“I’m here in the morning,” he says. “I can walk to the table, take the order myself, and go back to the kitchen, make a beautiful omelet, and bring it myself.”
Convivial will open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday at 801 O Street NW, then briefly close before beginning dinner service at 5.