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Jun 19, 2007 01:37 PM

Convivium Osteria Tips

Hey there
Heading to Convivium Osteria tonight with the fam. Does anyone have any insider tips? It's my first time. Wondering if there's anywhere particular that's best to sit. Any special dishes? Etc.
We had hoped to sit in the garden but it's being renovated and I suppose it may monsoon anyhow.

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  1. Everything we have had at Convivium has been wonderful.

    The pasta dishes are especially good.

    We enjoy sitting downstairs in the wine cellar, but sitting in the first floor dining room is nice as well.

    1. Had dinner there last night. One two other tables in the rest. Food was wonderful, the place is beautiful, but the waiter was surly. He could've cared less. The faces he made when I asked him to de-bone my fish were enough to make me never want to return. When I ordered the wine but wasn't specific enough, it was as if I had insulted him. Then he asked, "how much do you wanna spend?" which you never ask and in front of a date, either. I will forgoe the food and never return.

      4 Replies
      1. re: bergenave

        There are a lot of people on this board who have gotten this surly waiter. I must have gotten the other one, who was perfectly fine. So, the best table would be the ones that guy isn't waiting on, but I'm not sure how you figure that out! It's been quite a while since I ate there, but everyone enjoyed their food.

        Asking how much you want to spend isn't necessarily a bad question, but if the guy was being a jerk anyway I'm sure that's how it came out. Sometimes I'll pick a wine in the range I want to spend and ask if they have recommendations based on that price range.

        1. re: quentin

          I agree. Asking how much someone wants to spend on a bottle of wine isn't all that bad. But replying: "thats' easy b/c I don't have many that cheap," is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Never greeting us is bad! Seeming as if I asked to borrow money from him when I requested my fish deboned is bad! Brining back my bill after presenting my cc without a detailed receipt of what I ordered is bad! Treating us as if he was doing US a favoir waiting on us during Rest Week when I could go other places was bad! If anyone reads this---be very careful when (if) you eat there.

          1. re: bergenave

            Ive not had the surly waiter but this is an excellent restaurant overall - Fish and rabbit dishes, and their side vegetables were particularly memorable - strong on the meats. Personally I like the dining room upstairs better than the downstairs space, but both are fine. We have had some delicious wines at the Osteria.

            I think asking what your price range for wine is is perfectly appropriate and tends to move the conversation along, though admittedly if the waiter is not smooth I can understand how this got under your skin too. If you dont establish parameters wine waiter is likely to recommend the relatively expensive bottles and you have to work it downward, which can be annoying and embarrassing in itself.

            1. re: jen kalb

              I am surprised that surly waiter still has a job bc after our experience with him, we have sadly sworn off convivium. even the manager was appalled by his behavior after I had to ask him to please release us from our meal when we asked for our check after our appetizers and apertifs bc our waiter was making us feel soooo uncomfortable. yes, asking how much you'd like to spend is OK - but making us feel like cheapos by saying that our $60 ask was ridiculous, and that they don't have any good wines for that price point is NOT OK. but then being a giant jerk to me and my husband - also a BIG not OK. Its sad, was a favorite place but it is now replaced on our list by places who's service is better and quite honestly, who's food is much better - convivium has gone downhill. sad

      2. Wow. Maybe I'll give this place another try at some time. I ate there with a group of friends about a year ago and we had a pretty bad experience with our waiter. We ate downstairs, and the space was really lovely, but the waiter was terrible for a bunch of reasons. Perhaps we can band together to find out who this is to make it easier to reserve when he is off or at least in another section.

        1. Disclaimer: Convivium is one of my favorite Brooklyn joints, so my reply will be biased.

          I think it's very easy for an American to mistake what I would generously call "Euro flavor" (i.e., attitude) for surliness. They're not *rude*; it's just that some of the staff is charmingly snobbish (while the remainder is just charming); to me, this only adds to the authenticity of the place. People like Convivium because they feel their in the Iberian countryside, not in Brooklyn.

          And come on! To the person who requested that the waitstaff de-bone a whole, grilled fish... You were lucky you weren't forcibly escorted from the premises! I thought picking oil-slicked, lemon-squeezed fish meat of the bone with your date was supposed to be *fun* but I guess that's just me.

          I agree with those who suggest sitting downstairs in the wine cellar (so romantic!), but during the recession, they haven't been opening the cellar on some nights due to lack of customers.

          Their pasta, their steak for 2, their seafood are all worth trying. The cured meat and cheese platter for 2 might be my favorite thing, though.

          Try some Portugese red wine you've never heard of.... they have a nice winelist, and the staff knows it well.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Yaqo Homo

            I agree with Yago Homo about the deboning. I personally HATE it when my fish is deboned (as in fancy/ restaurants) since I think I am losing some of the fish I have bought and enjoy sucking the bones and picking the head. Certainly others feel differently - but It is probably worth learning the skill and not very hard - girlfriend will be impressed.

            1. re: Yaqo Homo

              I would never refer to CONVIVIUM as a "joint". It is a fine restaurant serving fine food and wine.

              The folks at CONVIVIUM are tring for an authentic Iberian/Italian experience.

              I love the food there, for its freshness, and for its originality based on tradition. Mostly for its deliciousness. I agree with the OP who suggested trying the Portuguese wine. Some are delicious, and pair beautifully with the dishes.

              On the de-boning issue: the correct service in a fine restaurant is to present the fish whole on a platter, and then to bring it back to the diner de--boned. An expert Waier or Maitre d' can bone a whole Fish in less than 2 minutes.

              Since so few restaurants in NY actually set the table for a fish service, i.e. Fish knives and fish Forks, one can assume it witll be done by the Wwaiter or Captain.. Very few diners these days are accustomed to using the Fish service, and deboning the Fish at table.

              I set the table with a Fsh service at home when serving Fish. It fepends on how t you were raised , and what you are used to. Living in France and Italy for 14 years, where Fush service is customary, it seems the natural thing to do.

              1. re: Fleur

                If you visit enough Thai and Chinatown restaurants, you will gradually learn how to eat a whole fish without fish service! In Italy, while the upper tier restaurants will bone out the fish as a matter of course, we have been at quite a few where we did the job ourselves. It is uncommon to have special fish service utensils provided in informal places in Italy.

                Convivium's wines are a major strength, we have had wonderful spanish wines there as well.