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Convivium or Rose Water?

  • m

As part of his birthday celebration, I'm planning to spend the day in Brooklyn with my boyfriend and take him for an early dinner before we head to a bar to celebrate with his friends. I've narrowed my restaurant choice down to Convivium Osteria or Rose Water. Does anyone have any imput? He loves Mediterranean, Greek, Middle Eastern and Spanish foods and I think he would really enjoy a cozy/warm yet romantic atmosphere. Thanks very much!

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  1. Both restaurants are great but it sounds, from your description that Convivium might be the place. Its more romantic and the food is Mediterranean, one of the most transporting experiences in NYC.

    1. only went to convivium once and would not go back. all the dishes were very salty (and i dont like bland food, either...) and we dropped $50 each, which ain't cheap. that said, that's a minority opinion, people seem to love it and maybe i should try again. and from your comments about your b/f's tastes, their menu should appeal to him. rosewater is more continental/upscale american, and i find it quite good. but it's not in any way mediterranean-inflected. goodluck!

      5 Replies
      1. re: bklynbiker

        Interesting. I've been to Convivium twice, and was VERY pleased with the food both times. Been to Rosewater once, and thought the food was extremely underseasoned (and overcooked). However, that was two years ago, and the chef has since changed.

        I personally think Convivium fits the bill for marissa. Word of warning, though. Both times at Convivium, there were young children present.

        1. re: fudluvr

          LOL - exactly how does one avoid young children in even the most expensive Park Slope restaurants? Seems that bedtime is somthing around 12 midnight these days.

          1. re: fudluvr

            ..and truthfully, i havent been to rosewater in a few years, my comments were based on experiences when it intially opened. but my friend and i both thought convivium's food was consistently over-salted. i also found the non-english menu, in which the hostess sits down at your table to translate it, a bit pretentious. and memorizing the translations proved challenging -- maybe they dont do that any more though?

            1. re: bklynbiker

              I think they have translations now. :)

              1. re: fudluvr

                thanks. guess it's time to try, try again, see what the fuss is about

        2. All votes do usually go to Convivum, but I do want to ask when you plan to go. It was just reviewed in the New Yorker (I think) which may lead to that thing that happens to restaurants immediately after a review. Maybe not but I'm just going to throw that out there as something you may wish to consider when choosing.

          1. With those attributes sought, Convivium hands down. Very Spanish/Portuguese type of food - heavy on the seasoning (which I like), while I find Rosewater utterly bland and in need of something.

            1. Notwithstanding the other posts, if you are looking for middle eastern accents, Rosewater is the place. Even its name indicates that. It started with a chef with experience at Oznut's Dish, with similar dishes. Though the chef has changed, the influence remains. Just look at the menu and see for yourself.

              1. I went to Rose Water for dinner last week and was underwhelmed. Nothing was bad... but nothing was great. Given all of the good things that have been written about them, I expected more.
                Haven't been to Convivium yet, so I can't compare.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Catherine

                  That is almost word for word what I was going to write. We went to Rosewater once, last summer, after a couple of glowing reccomendations. It is a nice space (although a little cramped) with nice service, but nothing is amazing. Not the food, not the seating, not the staff. It is good, but not nearly as special as many give it credit for.

                  Convivium we hear amazing things about, but have yet to try it.

                  1. re: Matt M.

                    make that three unimpressed, although not recent, Rose Water visitors

                    we had gone in the first month and it was underwhelming although pleasant - had another go after reading so much about it, and maybe something about the chef changing...
                    anyway, it sent me back to

                    which for me is the only reliably yum yum yum nice restaurant in the Slope
                    they are always jammed when other places are empty

                    have not made it into Convivium, fearing an expensive irritation, but I hear more good things about it than bad

                    1. re: pitu

                      I have to admit that though I didn't particularly appreciate the grumpy service, or the fact that the waiters were chain smoking in the restaurant just before opening (and the odor lingers), the food at Convivium was top notch.

                  2. re: Catherine

                    What did you have? While they occasionally miss, Rosewater serves inventive, fresh well prepared food. The ingredients are top notch and it makes a big difference.

                    1. re: Catherine

                      I'd go for Rosewater every time. It's no secret that we had (and documented) a pretty fantastic meal there very recently. There will always be contrary opinions on these boards, but I can't imagine choosing Convivium over Rosewater. Just can't even fathom it.


                      Link: http://nycnosh.com

                    2. Convivium is more expensive, significantly saltier, and with very slow, unfriendly service. But it's got a nice, dark, small, romantic and very European atmosphere. Rose Water is hands down my favorite restaurant in the borough, and is even smaller, but it's got an airier, greenmarket, yuppy American neighborhoody feel and the servers are uniformly nice and hip.

                      I would take him to Convivium for a birthday celebration because it's not the kind of food I would get every day (too greasy/salty for everyday, the tapas platter is enough food for both of us right there but the servers insist your order a main course as well, etc.) but as a once-in-a-blue-moon restaurant it's a real treat. I go to Rose Water whenever I possibly can, so it isn't really special for me.

                      1. No question in my mind: Convivium. It's exactly what you are looking for.

                        1. I don't understand the hype that Convivium receives. I have friends that like it, but in my experience the food is lousy. I agree that the room is nice, the cellar especially, but I can't get past the food. It's obvious to me that there is no chef to speak of (and if there is he/she is NEVER there) and you really get a sense of that with every painstaking bite.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: dave j

                            A couple of things:

                            firstly, I hope you realize you wrote your comments on a thread that's been dormant for 2 years. Things do change over time.

                            Secondly, and probably more importantly, is the fact that Convivium seems to go thru chefs at a higher rate than some of the comparable higher end Park Slope places. We go to Tempo and al di la often because we're pretty sure what we're going to get... there, we're eating from a menu created and overseen by someone who's been there for awhile & constantly hones his/her craft. Not so at Convivium. I loved it when Jodie Williams was in the kitchen, then went after she left to find a totally different style (and ability). I got dragged there a year later and loved it. I still dont know which was the anomilty... was the bad meal "between chefs" or with a short lived chef? Was the good meal done by someone just filling in or a new chef who'll be there for awhile. Not that other places dont change chefs but I've found Convivium to be particularly variable over the 6 or so meals I've eaten there. Not so with the over 50 meals apiece that I've eaten at Tempo, al di la, Chestnut or Henry's End. In other words, you may well have gone when there really was "no chef to speak of".

                            1. re: Steve R

                              We had dinner at Convivium last week and it was outstanding. Their pasta dishes are really special. We had a Ravioli of Green Apple with a Duck Ragu that was amazing. The entire meal was wonderful. Very nice wine list as well.

                              We had dinner at Tempo this weekend and it was very, very good. They were very busy because of a large wedding party in their main room, but the food was excellent, none the less. Wild King Salmon was on the menu, as were many great pasta dishes.

                              We really enjoy them both, and dine at Henry's End every few weeks as well. One of us always has the Breast of Chicken with Pear and Gorgonzola Sauce. They could use some variety in the dessert department, but all in all, an excellent place to enjoy a fine meal.

                          2. Convivium. Hands down.

                            1. We had a very disappointing meal at Convivium. THe food was acceptable, not great and the service was really poor. Whenwe complained the manager didn't seem responive at all.
                              Definitely not a place to go to

                              1. I loved my meal at Convivium a few months ago. Chicken livers -excellent, ravioli with duck ragu -excellent, friendly service and lovely atmosphere that makes you feel like you're in another land.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Brooklyn Mamacita

                                  Although it's a little silly to respond to a question that originated in 2005, I'm taking the bait because I never understand people's slavish devotion to Al di la. Yes, the ingredients are high quality, the owners are delightful people, and it's a warm quirky room...but the seating is too packed and - frankly - the menu really doesn't change all that much. And pasta with butter sauce (a variation of which is always on the menu) seems about as challening a dish as pb&j. Just my bias, I guess.

                                  I happen to have a real preference for Rosewater and want to note that there's a new chef (their 3rd since they opened, by the way) who seems to have trained in some excellent places. We're planning to see how he's changed things up and I'll post a review to the board.