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Help - Joe Beef or Au Pied du Cochon

My husband is not big into foie gras (actually, he hates it), but since I'm the vacation planner and the foodie, I'm making the reservations. So, my question is, is Joe Beef on a par with APDC, or will be too sad that I passed it up?

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  1. You can have a great meal at Pied de Cochon without touching foie gras. I had a whole variety of their seafood last weekend -- it's spectacular.

    1. I agree with estragon. At APDC you will get a better feel for Montreal and it's way more of an experience than Joe Beef. And the seafood is amazing since the chef makes it a point to build personal relationships with the purveyors

        1. re: foodismyfriend

          What has Joe Beef ever done to you, FIMF?

          Personally, I'd give them both a YAY, though in this particular case I'd agree with the person who says APdC is "more of an experience." But I'd say the two were on a par food-wise, and that Joe Beef was the one that had me saying "I can't wait to go back." With APdC, it's more along the lines of "I really should go back sometime..."

          1. re: Mr F

            "But I'd say the two were on a par food-wise, and that Joe Beef was the one that had me saying 'I can't wait to go back.' With APdC, it's more along the lines of 'I really should go back sometime...'"

            Exactly. Plus the ambiance at Joe Beef is cozier and sweeter. And if APDC gives visitors "a better feel for" anything, it's the Plateau, not the city. Joe Beef and its neighbourhood are every bit as representative of Montreal as APDC and its environs.

            1. re: carswell

              I agree that Joe Beef is the more comfortable restaurant. Au Pied can be a downright abrasive experience. I also think that even though they reinvent their menu every night, the food at Joe Beef tends to be more conservative than at Au Pied. Generally, I find APdC to be the more exciting dining experience. Something about the craziness of the dishes and the sheer energy of the place just gets me jazzed.

            2. re: Mr F

              Had the one of THE worst meals ever at Joe Beef--and I mean it was not just disappointing, but downright bad---the oysters Rockefeller were inedible--sent em back and no one seemed to mind....unacceptable. I could go on....but won't. Suffice to say, boo. Too many great restos in Montreal for me to get excited about giving em a second try, and judging by the reviews on this board, they aren't hurting for having lost my business anyhow:)

              APDC, for someone who has never been, is a nifty dining experience---albeit wildly excessive. They prepare food in ways I have never seen elsewhere, and it is consistently good. Having said that, for those that are not fans of foie gras, I would take a pass on APDC too, and check out one of countless other awesome restaurants in town.

              1. re: foodismyfriend

                Thanks for the details. While it's a drag to be among the unfortunate few to have had a bad experience at Joe Beef, at least your bank account has one less drain on it. :)

                Agreed that APdC is wildly excessive; that's the aspect that has me seeing a repeat visit as something I feel like I ought to do sometime, rather than something I'm eager to do. And while I like foie gras, making it the focus of wild excess is simply over the top. Still, I would say a foie-hater can still do well there as long as they don't mind seeing the stuff all around.

                1. re: Mr F

                  I'm not sure I understand what is excessive about APDC. I think ordering style is what makes it excessive - not necessarily the food.

                  1. re: celfie

                    IMO the following menu items all have a significant element of excess:

                    Duck in a Can: a standard dinner serving of magret *plus* approximately 4 standard appetizer servings of foie gras. A huge serving of food, especially by fine dining standards.

                    Foie gras burger + poutine duo: approximately the amount of foie found in a half-dozen appetizers at many restos. (Can't compare main-course portions, because elsewhere, foie is almost always appetizer material.)

                    Foie & salmon maki roll (last year): a battered and deep-fried maki roll yielding eight (8) hockey puck-sized slices. According to the server this was meant to be an appetizer for 2 to 4 people or a main course for one. We were four, and while it was delicious we were fighting over the *smaller* pieces. Easily enough food to be an appetizer for a party of 8, and a filling one at that. A concoction that is (was) the very soul of excess, from the layer of batter on the outside to the thread of foie down the middle.

                    Plogue à Champlain: pancake + foie + bacon + cheese + maple syrup + I forget what else. Deceptively small-looking, as all those ultra-rich ingredients add up to a *very* substantial main course.

                    Bison rib: easily twice the portion size of, for example, the beef short rib main course at Leméac.

                    These are just things of which I have direct experience. There have been many reports of other dishes that make it more than reasonable to describe this restaurant as trading in wild excess. (Pig's trotter stuffed with foie gras, anyone?)

                    In fact, I doubt Martin Picard would deny that his joint is a temple to excess. He may even say as much in the Album; don't have it here to check, though.

                    1. re: Mr F

                      i think the idea way to order at APDC is not dishes for individuals but as a group tapas style - in fact, i attempt to eat this way at any restaurant I go. I find the whole dish to myself thing passé

                      1. re: celfie

                        OK, but you're creating (or importing) an ordering style that was not intended for the restaurant. The menu is set up in a traditional apps-and-mains style, and is clearly intended to be ordered and eaten that way.

                        If you have to take special steps to work around the massive portions or even avoid ordering some items entirely in order to avoid overeating and/or massive waste, that seems to be yet another argument that Picard's style is indeed wildly excessive.

                        And I'd like to see somebody try to share Duck in a Can or a foie gras burger tapas-style.

                        1. re: Mr F

                          I always order as a group tapas style when I dine solo at the bar. You won't catch me being passé, no siree.

                          1. re: Mr F

                            "I'd like to see somebody try to share Duck in a Can or a foie gras burger tapas-style"
                            Empty the can and use two forks and cut the burger in half before eating... seems easy enough. I think that just because a menu is organized in a traditional way does not mean the customer is expected to order in the traditional way. Using the logic of your argument, then every customer would have to eat an appetizer, a main and never, ever skip dessert, because if it's on the menu, in that order, then one must order it...

                            1. re: swissfoodie

                              "Use two forks" is not a viable solution to the Duck in a Can problem, as neither the magret nor the foie can be easily cut with a fork. But, yes, I suppose you could cut everything up for sharing, though the foie would probably resemble a sauce by the time you started eating. Cutting up the burger would probably be easier.

                              Anyway, I'm not saying sharing is completely unfeasible at APdC (I'm sure they're quite helpful with customers who want to share), or that everybody should always have app, main, and dessert.

                              What I *am* saying is that "wildly excessive" is an apt description of Picard's approach -- especially if you take the menu layout at face value, but also (forgive me) no matter how you slice it. It's fine by me if you want to share Duck in a Can six ways, but I can't see how doing so would change the fact that the dish is quite simply over-the-top (and quite delicious).

                          2. re: celfie

                            When I point people to PDC, I always recommend sharing plates as a way of coping with the portions and the prices. But let's face it, some dishes are just fat orgies. The Poutine au Foie Gras contains, besides the foie, egg yolks, cream, cheese curds, and potatoes fried in tallow. I'm sure if I were to ask my dietitian what would be a reasonable portion, she would say "none".

              2. You can eat well at APDCwithout eating foie gras if you don't want. I had the onion soup - a nice portion, not excessive, by any means. I ordered the PDC with foie gras, when it arrived it was much larger than I had expected and asked right away if I could take out most of it, they said yes of course. I was very impressed with the way it was wrapped for take out. No waste there, leftovers were terrific the next day.
                Another time if I'm ordering that or the duck, I plan to share the dish with a friend, no problem there.

                1. so how's the warm salad of calf's heart
                  thinking i need to get this tomoorrow