Critic’s rating: 3 stars
How this restaurant deserves 3 stars is beyond me. This was not dining.
There were 5 of us – 2 chefs, one FOH guy and my husband and me. At first we were shown to an upstairs table right across from the service station – we would have been sitting in an “afterthought.” We rejected that table and were shown to a table at the bottom of the stairs in the second dining room.
AOC does one thing well – cramped seating. We were sitting at a table that seats 4 relatively comfortably, but is a nightmare for 5. The table across from us also seats 4 with comfort, but was packed with 6. That is the operative word – pack them in and AOC was packed – 2 deep at the bar and tables in the front dining room so close together you were forced to make friends with your neighbors.
The menu is broken down into charcuterie, salads, fish, meats, items from the wood burning oven and sides. This is a small plate experience so you order 3 or 4 dishes from each section.
house-made terrine with frisée and mostarda
lomo and two chorizo
speck with apples and arugula
pork rillettes with pickled onions
Trying to share these meager portions became a joke. Later on, we ordered 2 of one dish to try to off-set this, but even then “serving” them was more hassle than fun. As to the food itself, the lomo (cured pork loin) and chorizo were OK, but no better than I could get at my market. The small tub of butter was a nice addition, but again trying to pass that around the cramped table was a pain. The speck was again just OK and portion size very small. We were learning that if you wanted to really taste a dish, you needed to order two portions. The terrine was the best of the group and the jelly that accompanied it was delicious. However, try sharing that amount of jelly between 5 people. The pork rillettes were decent and the pickled onion a nice touch.
clams and sherry with garlic toast
brioche with prosciutto, gruyère and egg (2 orders)
bass with meyer lemon and lucques olives (2 orders)
arroz negro with squid and saffron aïoli
The kitchen determines the order of what comes out first without regard to what makes sense in terms of taste. We were told the kitchen couldn’t handle a predetermined order; our 2 chefs offered to go in the kitchen and help out.
Again to the food, the brioche was horrible, over-cooked and over-fermented. The bass was also over-cooked and tasteless. The arroz negro – rice stained blue-black with squid ink was mushy – this kitchen does one thing well – overcooking the life out of an ingredient. The clams were decent, but the broth had absolutely no flavor.
roasted dates, parmesan and bacon
Finally something that tasted good – the best “dish” of the night.
veal saltimbocca with madeira brown butter
coq au vin, bacon and black trumpets
grilled quail, foie gras and porcini sauce
pork confit, black-eyed peas and mustard butter
How they were able to make coq au vin and veal saltimboca taste like fried chicken is beyond me. The quail was in true AOC tradition overcooked. I didn’t taste the pork confit.
duck fat potatoes and apples – greasy
We ended up with a cheese plate – skimpy slices. No photo.
A real disappointment, given the reputation of AOC.