On my way to China, I watched a few episodes of No Reservations, Anthony Bordain’s latest television exploit. One of his trips was to Quebec, where he visited a duck farm to see how foie gras was made, cooked at the Montreal Culinary Institute, ate a breakfast of maple syrup at a sugar shack, and stuffed himself silly at Au Pied De Cochon. I was amazed at and jealous of his bacchanal at Au Pied De Cochon, and it was one of the reasons why I was interested in going to Montreal. (Interestingly, when I mentioned to my friend Mary Taylor that I was going to Montreal, one of her questions was if I was going to Au Pied De Cochon. It was also well known by the folks at the hotel.)
Au Pied De Cochon is a restaurant with a love of foie gras, duck, and pig. When you walk into the restaurant, you know that you are going to have unique experience. After the coat rack (heavy coats are a necessity in Montreal in the winter), you look down to a refrigerator full of shrink-wrapped foie gras. Check out the menu: the foie gras section has nine dishes dedicated to this elegant ingredient. I only wish I had the stamina, time, and money to taste them all.
I started with the Plogue à Champlain: a layered dish of potatoes, cheese, and bacon below a seared piece of foie gras and topped with chopped apples. The entire dish was covered in maple syrup. It sounds decadant and heavy, yet the dish felt light, and all of the elements were able to hold their own against the sweet syrup. (Apologies in advance if I had gotten ingredients of the dish incorrect–it was a long, but fun, night.)
I followed up with the “Melting Pot”–a variety of meats and potatoes in a large 10-inch diameter, 6-inch high dish covered with pastry dough and baked in the oven. That is a marrow bone poking out in the photo above. A waiter noticed me struggling with the standard fork in trying to get the filling out, and he was kind enough to bring me a demitasse spoon. This was heartiness in a pot, the perfect winter dish. Although the dish was heavy, the meat was rich, tender, and flavorful.
I was lucky enough to be given a seat at the end of the bar by the pass-through between the kitchen and dining room. In addition, the kitchen is open, so I was able to see dishes move back and forth between the kitchen and the brick-enclosed wood-fired oven before being passed off to the servers. Like all restaurants, it’s a fast paced, hot environment with food zipping back and forth.
The chef of Au Pied Du Cochon, Martin Picard, was not working that evening; the person running the kitchen was a gentleman named Marc. I was able to chat with him throughout the evening even though he was busy preparing dishes. Unfortunately, I did not think to get his full name even as he prepared my food.
The staff at Au Pied De Cochon has a passion for good food and wine. This was not a job where members of the staff were phoning in their work–they were excited and happy to be working there, and their enthusiasm was contagious. I tried to thank everyone at the restaurant who made my visit there so pleasant, but I’m sure I missed people. For those of you who I did not thank, please let me thank you again here!
Au Pied De Cochon is truly a meat-lovers paradise. The large cuts of meat fell off the bone; they looked luscious and tender.
This is a wonderful restaurant: I was welcomed with opened arms even though I was dining by myself, and the food was excellent, hearty, and made for a perfect meal on a cold night. Another single diner was seated next to me; we had a fine conversation and I enjoyed splitting my bottle of wine with her.
I would want every restaurant meal to be good as the meal I had at Au Pied De Cochon.