Bad Experience at Au Pied du Cochon
I am fully expecting to get hate mail but I went to PCD a few weeks ago and was really disappointed.
-The waitress came and said they had no cocktail menu but had a full bar. I tried to order 4 different drinks and each time she came back and said they couldn't make it. I ordered pretty standard stuff like a lychee martini. At the end she came back and said she could only offer me hard liquor or a cosmopolitan.
-The menu at PCD doesn't have any explanation. We had questions about the different items but the waitress kept of leaving all the time. We literally asked one question and she would walk away without even seeing if we needed anything else.
-I ordered the foie gras duo. The foie gras hamburger and the foie gras poutine. The bun of the hamburger tasted cheap and was soggy. It seemed as though they had prepared the hamburger (which was lukewarm), put the balsamic reduction on it and left it soaking there for 10 minutes. The hamburger meat had lots of gristle and fat. I make hamburgers at home with steak which I mince in the food processor and I always take the fat and nerves out, I can't believe that at PCD they can't do the same thing. No complains about the amount of foie gras in the burger although is was disproportionate and I left about half of it. My burger also seemed as though it had been dropped in a plate of mashed potatoes since one half was covered in it.
-The foie gras poutine came with literally 12 french fries. It was bizarre considering that french fries are the cheapest part of a poutine. The gravy was really good but it was lukewarm and didn't come close to melting the cheese. The portion of foie gras was generous but once again disproportionate to the rest of the dish and I ended up leaving a good part of it.
-Maybe I went on an off night but I spoke to someone else I know who has been there 5 times. She said that at the beginning the food and the service was impeccable but as Martin Picard started getting more recognition and was away from the restaurant more often that things started to go downhill and they are relying on their reputation. He wasn't there when I went. I would maybe give it another try but I got the impression that for the dishes I ordered that they are relying on the massive amounts of foie gras to cover up their sloppy preparation.
I know everyone loves PCD so I am fully prepared to get flamed. :P
I always had good service and food @ APdC, probably because I never order foie gras (don't like the pan fried foie) or fancy drinks, I always try to stick to the daily specials and the fish/seafood.
Me thinks and it's been confirmed by others is that no one, except food tourists (don't take that badly, most clients in "destinations restaurants are tourists, here and everywhere) order the Poutine.
I've had off nights at APDC and I don't order the foie or fancy drinks (and I don't like poutine). I don't go any more because APDC is indeed now a tourist destination restaurant and the description of the waitress and the line is about in-line with my last dining experience: single-tasking, not particularly attentive, sloppy plates.
I guess I count as a tourist (though I like to think of myself as your neighbor). So here's one tourist who's only had the poutine once (didn't like it), has never eaten duck in a can, and, like Maximillien, is only interested in the seasonal specials. I’ve had off nights at PDC, but thankfully, they’ve been few and far between.
Now that Picard is a celebrity chef, I can understand why tourists might feel disappointed he does not personally cook their meals. But truth be told, I haven't seen him work a full evening's service in years. Usually he swoops in, cooks a little, gives the crew feedback, expedites a little, chats up the diners, knocks back a few with his buddies, and swoops out.
These days, it's usually Mehdi or Emily running the kitchen and I have no complaints about their cooking. Or the service for that matter. One of Picard's accomplishments is building a strong crew to run his restaurant.
And lychee? Not exactly terroir. Next time try an ice cider martini. They're really good.