As he prepared to open his new restaurant in Shaw, Convivial, chef Cedric Maupillier predicted the fried chicken coq au vin would be its signature dish.

So far, time has borne out his prognostication.

"I think I nailed it," Maupillier said.

Yes, chef. Yes, you did.

The dish ($16) is a perfect example of Convivial's marriage of the food of France, Maupillier's native country, and America, his adopted home. Coq au vin is a classic French dish in which chicken -- traditionally old, tougher roosters -- is braised in red wine with mushrooms, onions and bacon. Maupillier's twist swaps in fried chicken for the slow-cooked meat.

Maupillier cites Korean fried chicken as the inspiration for the boneless thighs he pressure-fries in canola oil. To preserve the crust -- which reminded us, in the best possible way, of the breading on the Arby's chicken tenders of our youth -- the chef drizzles a reduced coq au vin glaze on top rather than placing the meat in the soupier setting of its classic predecessor. Also adorning the glossy pile: pleasantly plump and tender mushrooms, potatoes, shallot and carrots, plus a little lardon.

The fried chicken has been the runaway hit at Maupillier's first restaurant as a majority owner. (He's still attached to Mintwood Place as its executive chef.) In fact, most tables are ordering the dish.

"People really love it," he said.

Convivial, 801 O St. NW. 202-525-2870.

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