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Café Du Lac – What a disappointing meal

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My SO took me out to Café Du Lac for my Birthday this past weekend. As I haven’t dined out much recently, I was really looking forward to a relaxing well-prepared meal. My expectations were never met.

The starters came out in good time. The SO had the fondue parmesan; little deep fried parmesan & gruyere ‘cheese sticks’ with a tiny frisee salad. I can’t say anything great about the dish, but I guess they did deliver a ‘gourmet cheese stick’. I opted for the salmon tartare which was a mixture of salmon, both smoked and fresh, as well as shallots, capers, and some fresh herbs. Tasty – sure, okay. Home smoked – I think not. Frozen/thawed/packaged is my guess.

So at this point, the meal was okay at best.

The entrees came out, and this is where I was left completely deflated. The SO opted for the “pan-seared walnut crusted grouper with purple asparagus raft and morel jus”. This is a direct quote from their menu. The fish came out cold, slightly fishy, no walnut crust, and no purple asparagus. It wasn’t horribly fishy, but for someone who cooks fish weekly, I have never served anything of that caliber.

My entrée was the “duck magret drizzled with a red beet jus and served with a potato rosti”. Once again I use a quotation from their menu. Potato rosti you say? Where? I sure as hell didn’t get one. Instead, I received some sort of ‘scallion mashed potato’. The worst part – my “duck magret” was 4 medallions of duck breast. Piece # 1 was fat only. The other 3 pieces, once dissected from their fat, totaled about 3 ounces of meat. 4 ounces would be an exaggeration. The meat was of poor quality and execution. It was cooked too well, with fat not properly rendered. No buttery fatty ducky goodness, just a chewy fatty wad. The breast meat was more reminiscent of liver than of duck. I felt insulted and offended. Hands down, the WORST piece of duck I have ever eaten by a long shot!

I would typically have a discreet chat with the waiter about the entrees, but this conversation didn’t happen for two reasons. 1) It was my birthday, and I didn’t feel like complaining. 2) Should I really have to complain? Really? How many mistakes can you make with two mains? I count eight BIG ones minimum. These entrees shouldn’t have ever made it to our table. Three items were substituted unbeknownst to us. Would this not be something that should be brought to our attention? Were the chef and waiter satisfied with what they prepared/served?

The plates sat in front of us for 20 minutes after we had finished eating, with my credit card in full view. We ended up flagging down another waiter to take care of the bill. Three beers, a glass of pinot, apps & mains $120 + tip.

I left feeling hungry, cheated and disappointed.

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  1. My sister and here husband who is from the Eastern Townships ate at CDL once and also said it was a big disappintment. And he laughed at the portions, which were tiny.

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodyDudey

      Yes, tiny is an understatement. Too bad that was the least of their problems.

    2. How did you come to choose the restaurant? Live nearby? Chowhound rec?

      1 Reply
      1. Oh wow, I am glad I decided not to buy the voucher (I think it was on Groupon or something).

        Offtopic, but, I am curious why you bought you own B-day meal :)

        Anyway, thanks for the review and warning, I will definitely avoid the place.. yes, it is only one review, but, so many great places out there. There were negative reviews on this place on Yelp and other spots too that is why I avoided buying the certificate to start |(and wasn't too close)

        2 Replies
        1. re: ylsf

          Not off topic at all. Very ON topic.

          My SO felt horrible that my birthday meal was a complete flop. I knew she had nothing but good intentions taking me there. She also has more tip guilt than I. I decided that I would grab the bill and she could pick up the next one and we will have a proper do-over with a GOOD meal.

          1. re: Derksen

            @ ylsf, I should thank you for reminding me about yelp. I just posted there as well as urbanspoon.

            So I'm browsing Urbanspoon, and my god! My review. Almost word for word, but by another patron. Crazy. Exact same experience, same entrees. The review is by "foodie" titled "Extremely Dissapointed": http://www.urbanspoon.com/u/profile/8... Check it out.

            I should have done my homework in greater detail prior to us making a reservation. The one time I don't, and I get burned. I guess I was also hoping to find something close to our new 'hood that would be a great go-to spot. This place should be called Cafe du Lack!

        2. About a month or so ago my husband and I decided to take-out an an all dressed poutine (cream sauce, short ribs, foie gras). We live in the area and have eaten there before when it first opened. We hadn't been there in quite awhile. When we opened up the container we were quite surprised to see how small the portion had become - half of what it used to be. Somehow they had forgotten the cream suace?!, the short ribs were dry and rubbery, and the foie gras overcooked. What a dissapointment. It used to be so good.

          My husband sat in the restaurant and waited for the poutine. While there he observed what he called ' kids' in the kitchen. There was no sign of the Chef. Later I checked out the Cafe du Lac website and noticed there is a new chef. I wonder if this is the reason for the disappointing food.

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          Cafe du Lac
          2350 Lake Shore Blvd W, Toronto, ON M8V, CA

          1 Reply
          1. re: mammoth

            New chef, old chef, whatever the case may be.... I will never be back, and I urge others not to go. A waste of time and money.