I finally went to Au Pied the Cochon with a bunch of friends for a very, very late supper last week. Since knowing its existence and the genius of Chef Martin Picard, I have always wanted to try the restaurant but because it was a restaurant that served mainly meat, I wanted to save the occassion where more than 1 meat eater could go with me! 🙂
All I can say is that it is the best restaurant I have ever been to and I am very glad that we decided to take the 10.30pm reservation. Upon arrival, there were no signs or boards to indicate Au Pied de Cochon except for a crowd of chattering diners in the middle of Mont Royal. We drove past it without even knowing it was Au Pied de Cochon. It wasn’t until you wander through their side entrance that its trademark pig’s head greets you along with the Chef’s accolades.
Au Pied de Cochon translates to “At the pig’s feet” and I can assure you trotters are not the only thing served on the menu. True to ANY French cuisine, the whole of the pig do not go to waste! Other unconventional cuts like tongue, brain and blood are used as well.
While my friends and I waited for our table to be ready (we had to wait another 30 minutes because people just won’t leave and the restaurant has a policy whereby they would not clear the tables if the customers are still lingering in the restaurant), we were hungry and excited and a little miffed that we had to wait but the hostess was very kind and attentive making sure that we know they care of our wait.
You see, the best restaurant isn’t just about the food, despite the little glitch in the beginning – to which I will be overlooking. Food does take a big chunk of the pie but other qualities like service and ambiance rounds it up to a perfect circle; Au Pied de Cochon had it all. Our waiter(s) were extremely attentive and extremely adept. We had about 3 different waiters serving us and each of them knew what five of us ordered, they knew where to place the spoons, sauces, knives for each respective order without us needing to remind them who ordered what. Now that, my dear foodies, is the true art of waiting. 🙂
Only two of us decided to order appetizers, my very daring friend wanted Head Cheese for his starters, and my partner even suggested paying for the Head Cheese if my friend would eat it ALL up. ALas, the Head Cheese was no more as they had finished it for the night! So my friend decided to order the Terragon Bison Tongue instead. We were expecting a whole tongue served to us in all its gore but a petit plate came by and it did not look as scary as its name suggested at all, in fact it was SO good, the tongue melts in the mouth….it was heavenly. I ordered Codfish fritters to start my palate and they reminded me of conch fritters, very tasty but leaning very much towards the safe side 😛
For mains, I order Duck in a Can, while my compadres ordered foie gras specialties off the menu, namely Cured Foie Gras and Boudin tart, Foie Gras with berries and Plogue à Champlain. I have one word to describe our dishes and that is RICH. As expected from foie gras, richness is part of the deal but in Au Pied de Cochon, every sauce and every morsel is reduced to almost its essence which doubles the richness instantly. I thoroughly enjoyed my duck in a can, but it was too rich for me to finish. The Duck in a Can consist of half a duck breast, 1 foie gras, rich meat sauce with thyme, 1 bulb of roasted garlic and shredded cabbage medley served on top of two toasts with melted cheese. Typing this makes me feel the duck in my stomach all over again. My friends’ foie gras dishes were equally tasty. The Plogue à Champlain has a beautiful sweet and savory sauce and the Foie Gras with berries had a very light and fruity taste with cuts the richness of the fatty liver beautifully. The Cured Foie gras and Boudin tart has a crispy buttery base with slices of cured foie gras and pig’s blood in the form of sausage. It may sound rather scary but the pig’s blood sausage tastes a lot like chicken liver, a succulent juicy piece of chicken liver. YUM.
And look at this pretty plate of Foie Gras with Berries I should have ordered for myself. It would have been a perfect portion for me but my greedy self had to have first hands dips into their infamous duck in a can! Burp.
OMG, the desserts at Au Pied de Cochon are to die for! As I was too full to fit even a berry, i decided to just forgo dessert and maybe just have a small tasting session with my friends’ desserts. Two ordered the Lemon Meringue Pie and one ordered their special dessert of the day, which was panna cotta with strawberry jelly and fruits. Their pie knocked my partner’s socks off that he now knocks those store-bought meringue pie as unacceptable. The meringue in this one is creamy on the inside and crisp on the outside. The panna cotta was silky rich but has a good balance of tartness from the strawberry jelly that cuts the richness and evens out the flavor into a heavenly combo. A perfect ending to a perfect meal – now if only we have more than one stomach!
Dining at Au Pied de Cochon raised our standards of what five star is. None of those poncy restaurants where the waiters dress like penguins; the waiters at the pig’s feet dress in comfortable dark khakis and knows the menu like the back of their hands. They are friendly, laid-back and extremely professional. This is fine dining without pretentious finesse or sulky waiters. You are eating at Au Pied de Cochon where friendship and love for food are forged.
Au Pied de Cochon
536 Duluth Est
Get the cookbook here:-
Au Pied the Cochon: A cookbook from the celebrated restaurant
has over 55 original recipes.