Au Pied de Cochon
How should I begin to describe a serious culinary feast? One that will go down in the books. It should probably start with the owners who work the room, that have created something so unique that the place is probably always humming. They are adorable to boot. Or should I begin with the vibe. A long wooden bar, many wooden square tables and chairs, frenetic, kitchen in front and if you need to, you can go into the bathroom and watch the kitchen cooking live on video. But, at the end of the day, it is all about the food or all of these things wouldn’t make a difference.
The restaurant is called Au Pied de Cochon. There wasn’t a person who gave me advice on Montreal that didn’t put this restaurant as the first on the list.
We ordered way too much food but that is okay, it gave us an opportunity to try many different things. We began with drinks. Who knew that in Montreal that a vodka on the rocks comes is a single or a double. Good to know. After cocktails, we moved into red wine.
Our first round of food was four different appetizers…just to kick it off. Thinly sliced pieces of apple, endive, crumbled blue cheese mixed with a spicy vinaigrette. Quite heavy for a salad but I am not sure anything is light here. We also had the special of the day. Thinly sliced raw scallops served with lime juice and topped with red caviar. Large pieces of asparagus, roasted with 2 deep fried pulled pork squares set inside the asparagus. I couldn’t help myself and ordered the pickled tongue out of sheer curiosity. I grew up with tongue and always loved it so why not. It was pickled but the way it cut and tasted it seemed that they had also braised it in the vinegars for several hours. It was served with long thin crispy pieces of French bread and a large dollop of spicy mustard. Everything was out of this world.
The restaurant definitely paced us which I liked. We waited a while for our next round. This particular round was probably the highlight although the main courses were pretty amazing too. This course was all about foie gras. Ploghue a Champlain. Pan fried foie gras with thinly sliced potatoes topped with a sauce that was like a maple syrup. Sweet and caramelized. It was almost like eating dessert. We just kept staring at each other and with each bite saying omigod, omigod. The other foie gras, which was spectacular too was not as stupendous as the first. Pan fried foie gras with a deep rich balsamic vinegar that had been boiled down and over the top and thinly sliced crispy pieces of French bread. I am still dreaming about both dishes.
Next out, was the main courses. Our friends had duck for 2. Picture above. A split duck with juicy glistening skin and meat that pulled off the bone along a side of polenta topped with foie gras, roasted garlic cloves and some broccoli rabe. Not only gorgeous but scrumptious. Fred had the duck in the can, literally. They sear the foie gras, and then put the rest of the ingredients in the can and seal it. They do that on the premises and it stays for about 2 days. It is boiled before being served and they open it with a can opened at your table and put it on your plate. It comes out perfect. Clever idea and smart branding. Besides being genius, it is sublime. Here are the ingredients: ½ magret, 100G de foie gras, 180 ml d’embeurree de choic, ½ tet d’ail roti and 2 branches de thym. Basically duck, sauce, garlic, foie gras and thyme. I went with the Happy Pork Chop which was so tasty and topped with chopped mushrooms and onions that it didn’t even taste like a pork chop.
We were so full that we bagged dessert. The creme brulees coming out of the kitchen were as large as my head. Yet, after we were done and paid up, the owner brought us all over some after dinner drinks. Not sure what my friend ordered for me but the guys had Grappa. Nothing like ending on a serious note.
My souvenir besides a memorable experience is the label from the can which I plan on getting framed.
I might consider going up to Montreal just for a night at Au Pier de Cochon. Fantastique!