Thursday, March 22, 2007

Montreal: Au Pied de Cochon

Le Pied de Cochon has gotten some pretty incredible press in Quebec for the past 2 years or so and we were very curious about it. It is with very weird expectations that I made my way into the crowded lair of Martin Picard, PdC's rotund owner; on one side, a lot of the toughest food critique gave PdC the acclaim and, on the other side, I knew that Martin philosophy had always been one of unpretentious food, fresh ingredients and conviviality. I expected simple dishes, bold tastes and little in the way of subtlety. Although I was hoping for a suprising culinary experience.

For the first-timers, you will most likely need the server's help to decypher the menu as the dishes' names might not be of much help... and you might also order way too much food (which we did) as the serving are large.

We shared a
a Tarte Tomate ($6.50) (left) which was delicious. The pastry was light and flaky. The tomatoes were fresh and the ensemble was very balanced-not too heavy, subtile yet flavourful.

We couldn't say the same about 'La Plogue a Champlain' ($23, right): potatoes, cheddar cheese, smoked bacon, maple syrup, seared foie gras, in a buckwheat flour crepe. So sweet its a case of instant type 2 diabetes... No subtelty there; the taste is bold, the flavors all mixed together. This dish is so rich that I would suggest theat either you make it your meal (with a salad) or skip it and focus on the main course.

May had the 'Canard en conserve' ($36) which is a duck breast cooked in a can which they open up and serve at your table. Of course, it is served with the mandatory foie gras. Certainly tasty and original. The duck was nice.

I had the 'Steak cerf frites' (venison, $21) which I found a little bit too cooked for my taste. Decent but not a memorable dish for me (I had better venison here in Ottawa at Beckta).

Our final mistake was to end the night with Puding chomeur ($7), an extra sweet desert (yeah, we knew it but couldn't resist). Again here, PdC manages to go above and beyond; this has to be the richest Puding chomeur I ever had in my life!

All in all, with 4 glasses of red wine ($44.50), our total before tax was $159.82. Not bad at all considering the insane amount of food we had. Had we been reasonnable and skipped on the Plogue and 2 glasses of wine, the two of us would have eaten for about $100, which is exceptional for a meal that is 50% foie gras! :-)

Now, what did I think of it? Still unsure... I guess it depends on what my expectation should be. Nowadays, I tend to like to be surprised with flavours and their subtle layering. No surprises of this kind at PdC: all the flavors are mixed together. However, the sourcing of the produce is great and each one of those bold dishes is satisfying. The convivial brasserie ambience is also unique. After much thinking, I came to the conclusion that PdC really feels and tastes like a high-end sugar bush experience...

Really, really high end...

Try it out.

Au Pied de Cochon
(514) 281-1114

P.S. Note that we got a new camera and we had some trouble with the settings. Pictures of the Tarte Tomate and the Plogue a Champlain are not ours. They were "borrowed" from Martin Picard's book about his restaurant that you can get there: http://www.archambault.ca/store/Product.asp?mscssid=&sku=001920985&type=5

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