It’s not as if Cedric Maupillier were an unknown—his creativity and skill have been on vivid display at Mintwood Place for years—but with his first restaurant as both owner and chef, he’s a chef unleashed. A protégé of Michel Richard, Maupillier sometimes channels his mentor’s wit and precision: Witness his fried-chicken coq au vin, which combines the rustic depth of the French country staple with the supernal crunch of the Korean shop Bonchon. There’s reverence, too, for tradition, and the menu, more French than American, abounds in the kind of patiently developed flavors you might not find so easily in Paris these days. Maupillier’s ravioli is one example: filled with an earthy boudin noir and paired with both a chestnut purée and a mushroom fricassee. Like many dishes on the menu, it was conceived with wine in mind, the flavors intensifying further with a sip of Syrah or Bordeaux. Justin Guthrie’s list contains a number of good ones, and also some bargains. Convivial itself deserves credit for being such a value—it could easily charge more for cooking of this excitement and quality. That it chooses to be accessible just makes it that much more lovable.
Don’t miss: Sardine tartine; latke with dry-cured lamb; leeks dijonnaise; cured Arctic char; scallop boudin blanc; Key-lime-and-speculoos pie; sticky toffee pudding; “s’mores.”