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Au Pied Disappointment

The first time that I went to APDC I ordered the "catch of the day," which happened to be Skate Fish. The fish itself was lovely, but the spinach sauce that was on top of the fish was gritty (to say the least). I chalked it up to someone not thoroughly washing the spinach before using it as a topper, and I went on my merry way.

When a friend suggested we re-visit the restaurant for a second try, I jumped at the opportunity. Since Skate Fish was on the menu again, I decided to give it another go. This time, it was topped with capers...the only problem was that the combination of capers and an extra dose of salt produced enough salt to melt an icy driveway.

After tasting a few other bits of the meals that my friends were eating, we all came to the conclusion that someone had a heavy "salt hand" back in the kitchen that night. From poutine to duck, nearly every item on the table was overly salted.

Needless to say, I was disappointed with my APDC experience twice.

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  1. Sorry to hear that - perhaps you should have sent it all back for less salt. On the other hand, its more a meat lovers place (i am not sure I would go for seafood there myself) and IMHO, Cabernet based wines demand salt.

    1. I too am sorry to hear your about your dinners at APDC, We dine there just about every time we are in Montreal and quite frankly have never had a complaint, But then again we have never ordered the fish. APDC is about pork,duck,foie gras,beef. but not so much fish.
      It is akin to dining at Le Bernardin and ordering Kobe. It's on the menu but why bother?

      3 Replies
      1. re: currymouth

        Here's a third sorry for your disappointing experience. I often get the fish special at APDC and, so far, have enjoyed what I've ordered, though I admit I've never had their skate. The staff is pretty accommodating so I don't think you would have had any problem sending it back and requesting less salt.

        1. re: currymouth

          After the absolutely HORRIBLE seafood platter there last summer, I would never order anything from the sea there. I agree with currymouth, PDC is about foie gras etc, not about fish.

          1. re: souschef

            No. PDC focuses on seafood every summer and in my experience their sourcing of fish and shellfish has been as good as their sourcing of other products. I'm not saying you didn't have a bad experience. I'm saying your experience does not jibe with mine. All the fish dishes I sampled this past year have been excellent. I plan to stop at PDC and order a seafood platter when I visit Montreal this Summer just to see if they've fallen as far as you claim.

        2. I'd be interested to know more about which dishes you and your friends ordered and what you thought of each one specifically.

          Sorry to hear about both bad experiences. From what I've read and I've been told, they just seem like bad breaks.


          Vagabond à la Carte : http://vagabondalacarte.wordpress.com

          1. You mean you didn't say anything to APDC staff after tasting their disappointing food(like when they asked 'If everything is OK' or along those lines)? You just suck it up!

            2 Replies
            1. re: BLM

              Actually, the first time around I didn't say anything due to the fact that I told myself I would give it another try. The second time around I did mention the salt factor, though the waiter simply shrugged.

              Also, in my opinion, whether or not APDC is a seafood restaurant is not the point...if a chef is going to place a meal -- any meal -- on a menu, it must be up to par with the rest of the menu.

              I also tend to have the same logic when it comes to inedible food upon a plate...why place something on a plate that cannot be consumed? Why place an item on a menu that does not do the chef/restaurant justice? If seafood is not something that APDC prepares properly, should it be on the menu at all?

              Again, these are just my opinions regarding the restaurant. If you enjoy every last bit of your meal every time you are at APDC, great! Just don't order the skate fish... ;)

              1. re: fraisefatale

                I do understand and somewhat agree with your issue of subpar menu items . All too often these items are placed there to appease diners that perhaps don't eat or just don't feel like eating what that restaurant is known for and prepares on a regular basis. ie: chicken at a steak place or fish at a pork establishment. When preparing a menu , these items are included so as not to lose a four top when perhaps one diner does not eat what the other diners, who have chosen that restaurant, do. Inevitability some thing tends to suffer, freshness,preparation,technique,seasoning. Again it is not an excuse but all too often, a reality in the restaurant business.

            2. I have to say my APDC experience was mixed. My appetizer of pumpkin soup with seared foie gras was absolutely amazing but my main dish recommended by the waiter, piggy steak, tasted like a 6 inch by 4 inch slab of salty solid seared fat. I am sure something got lost in translation - the remnants of my highschool French are not strong - but I couldn't imagine anybody being even to eat a fraction of that 'meat'. I would return but have learned the harsh lesson that there is too much of a good thing and to not depend on the restaurant to draw that line in the dishes.

              9 Replies
              1. re: lunchslut

                Despite my disappointment with their rubber seafood platter, I would return in a flash (and intend to do so) as I have had a number of amazing things there: the cromesquis, the foie gras-stuffed rabbit, the duck in a can, the tomato tartlet, the pouding chomeur, etc.

                However, I would NOT order anything from the sea. Their nondescript soft shell crab was also a major disappointment.

                1. re: souschef

                  That's fine. "I would not order anything from the sea" is a very different statement from a broad pronouncement regarding what the restaurant is or is not "about". The former can't really be argued with. The latter just begs for the presentation of evidence to the contrary. :)

                  1. re: rcianci

                    It sounds like the general consensus is that the only bone to pick with the place really, is in the seafood department.

                    I should be making my way there soon, and if I do maybe I'll see if I can't order a decent plate of seafood something and share my thoughts as well. However, chances are now I'll purposely steer clear of it and use those dollars towards something I'll be sure to enjoy.


                    Vagabond à la Carte : http://vagabondalacarte.wordpress.com

                    1. re: sksoze

                      A quick Google will show that the consensus is that the seafood at PDC is quite good. I order fish whenever I'm there and so far I haven't been disappointed.

                      I remember the last seafood dish I had there, a crab tart. It was a puff pastry bowl, heaped high with big lumps of sweet, fresh snow crab meat, and decorated with fresh herbs and thinly shaved pickled onions. Underneath the crab were perfectly cooked very thin slices of potato and a rather large amount of crème fraîche. I wish I had me one right now.

                      I hope you decide to try the seafood at PDC for yourself and report back.

                      1. re: rcianci

                        Actually, the summer seafood -- the fish more than the shellfish, and not the plateaux, which used to be fabulous but which I've not tried since the summer they were introduced -- is about the only thing that draws me back to the place these days. Simply prepared but, then again, you wouldn't want it otherwise with fish that pristine and impeccably fresh. The only thing I'd warn against is the fresh tarragon they sometimes use as a stuffing -- fine for mackerel and other strongly flavoured fish but overpowering for delicate white fish like the baby halibut or flounder. They'll hold it if you ask, though.

                        1. re: carswell

                          Like you, it's been a few years (four for me, I think) since I've tried a seafood platter. I plan to try one this Summer to see if they are still as good as I remember.

                          1. re: rcianci

                            Like Rcianci and Carswell, I have had only good experiences with seafood and fish at APDC. We recently had fish and chips (one of the daily specials), and I have to say that this was one of the best battered fishes I have ever eaten. Perfect crisp batter, delicate, firm fish, and homemade tartare sauce - yum. If anything, I was a little disappointed by the fries, which were less crisp and a little blah. I think their fries are not my favorite type of fries.

                            1. re: moh

                              The last time I had fries there, they made me sad as well. I think it is a stylistic choice. Some people prefer brown and soft fries. Me? Me want them golden and crisp.

                              1. re: emerilcantcook

                                Yes, golden and crisp on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, with yummy potato taste. It is surprising how hard it is to find perfect fries...

              2. With apologies for stating what the "restaurant is about", I defer to the above response by currymouth. As with the other responders here, I would gladly go back to APDC and order the dishes that they are know for (and apparently do exceedingly well). As others have implied, unless you are averse to fish dishes (I for one would happily eat a vegetarian meal there -in spite of the fact that I am a meat eater) - try something else. A final point: I agree that the waiter who shrugged when informed that the dish was too salty - was not paying attention. In those instances, my personal response would be to say in no uncertain terms that I would like to return the dish and they could cook it properly for me. For the prices that they charge, I think it is a reasonable course of action to take, don't you?

                8 Replies
                1. re: cornFusion

                  I agree that the waiter's response was inadequate and that the reasonable course was to return it and insist they cook it properly. I merely point out that a growing number of such incidents constitutes evidence that the restaurant's standards have slipped, but that a single poster, bringing up a single incident over and over again, may or may not.

                  1. re: cornFusion

                    A perhaps silly "four-top" question - does APDC have any vegetarian options? Yes, of course I know that is not what the establishment is "about"?

                      1. re: rcianci

                        Yes, they do. And eggs. Thanks for tackling a question that could sound silly, but this board is one of the best sources for being able to help visitors to Mtl.

                        The party in question includes several enthusiastic carnivores, one vegetarian (eats cheese and eggs) and another person who is not vegetarian but not a great meat eater. About 8 people. This is not a hypothetical group, by the way, it is a real query from people I know in Ottawa and Gatineau, with two young family members studying at UQAM and Concordia. One of them is the vegetarian.

                        1. re: lagatta

                          Well, on the regular menu, they have a big green salad, a salad of roasted beets and goat cheese, a salad of endive, apples, blue cheese and walnuts. They have a tomato tart appetizer that is pretty good.

                          As you can tell from the above discussion, they serve a few fish dishes. For apps there are salt cod fritters, and a maple-smoked mackerel dish with potato, green bean and tomato. For mains they have a fish special which changes frequently.

                          After that there are just the basic mashed potatoes (with lots of melted butter) and the PDC mashed potatoes, which are essentially a big mound of melted cheese curd with a little potato and roasted garlic mixed in. The fries are cooked in some percentage of duck fat, so I'm not counting them as vegetarian.

                          As you can see, there's not a particularly large or varied selection of vegetarian choices. But they do run specials and they are usually pretty flexible so they might be willing to put together something off menu for the non-meat eaters in your party. Hope this helps.

                          1. re: rcianci

                            Though taking a vegetarian to APDC is a little like taking a straight gal or gay guy to Bada Bing!, you're probably right that the staff is used to accommodating non-meat eaters at this point. That said, anyone who's a vegetarian should make that clear to the waiter when placing his order. Tart crusts may have lard in them. French fries may be fried in duck fat. Purées may be thinned with meat broth. &c.

                            1. re: carswell

                              The vegetarian in question is used to it, as he (a cousin of mine) is odd-man out in a very meat-loving family, including hunters...

                            2. re: rcianci

                              The goat cheese and beet salad is one of the best things I have ever had in my life...he MUST have that! I will not tolerate if he doesn`t order it!

                    1. At the risk of triggering an avalanche, I must say that I never quite understood the hype about APDC. Went there soon after it opened years ago and again a couple of times after reading so many rave reviews, but I was never impressed. I am definitely not lipophobic, but this stuff is so drenched in fat that I can't handle it at outside temperatures above -25C. Forget the fish - even when it come's to their "specialties", I'd rather eat my foie gras or duck elsewhere (e.g. at Vertige next door).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: beurreblanc

                        my 2 cents
                        Lots of Hype for no dish that is out of this world. Verry good rich and fat meals. I mean what can beat the taste of fat?
                        O was verry disapointed in the poutine au foie gras. fries were drenched in sauce and didn't enjoy the taste of foie gras with the sauce.
                        This place is for MEAT eaters and it's a verry good restaurant. Exceptional? No!

                      2. I went to APDC for the first time last Tuesday. I have read the book and seen Martin Picard on FoodTV.
                        The Codfish Fritters that I started with were a tad greasey for my taste. We ordered 3 entree's to share amongst ourselves. (we are all in the food business) Fois Gras & Boudin Tarte, Duck Magret and Bison tartare.
                        They were not bad at all. Not quite worth all the hype that we'd heard about. I must say that I was disapointed.
                        That being said, I would go again.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: bigfellow

                          I too believe that there is a lot of hype when it comes to APDC's menu but after over a dozen meals and 4 cool tee shirts later, I have come to realize that Martin Picard did not set out to establish a 2 star, flavor of the month,god help you if you don't fois gras, Restaurant. He wanted to have a place where food that he remembered as a youth could be replicated and served to patrons that could savor and appreciate the effort.
                          It works most of time, and We have learned to get a later reservation, because by then the tourist has already had their 3'rd libation and retired to their beds, and the staff has lightened up and we can benefit from the less manic atmosphere and enjoy not only the food but also the company of the staff as well as our table mates.It works and I feel it is still one place where food,wine,company,and conversation all come together to complete the experience.

                          1. re: currymouth

                            What's the latest you can get a reservation for?

                            1. re: Shattered

                              The latest reservation I have received was last summer at 10.30pm, a bit late for that type of cuisine some would say.2 Hours and a bottle later we still left the restaurant packed.

                        2. My wife and I come from NYC twice a year and always go here. There are definitely inconsistencies. We've had onion soup that was extremely over salted, soggy fries, a salad of delicate baby lettuce studded with massive lardon slabs, bad fries, duck in a can that was so tough it belonged in the (garbage) can, multiple occasions where the wine I ordered was out of stock, mushy cassoulet, and a mediocre meat loaf special. It has been my experience that if you tell the waiter you are unhappy, they will replace the dish with no problem. Some visits are perfect, which are entirely memorable.