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Chazzy

Au Pied de Cochon

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I've read many good things about this place on the Chowhound board, I've enjoyed Martin Picard's food in the past at Club des Pins and I like the look of the menu, but I figured I'd hear what people here have to say before I visit. So what does everyone think of this place, any favourite or must try dishes? Lesley have you reviewed it? I must have missed it if you did, but if so and there's an online version I'd love to read it or at least hear your thoughts. Thanks to all in advance and hopefully I'll make a visit there soon.

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This is the page on APDC straight out of my dining out book.

Au Pied de Cochon

(Reviewed 01/02)

SNAPSHOT

Au Pied de Cochon is a restaurant with few pretensions. Artistic-plate-presentation seekers, “heart smart” eaters, and vegetarians be damned. This is a place for pork, duck, venison, even poutine, and the kind of hearty French fare that chefs themselves enjoy after an early-morning excursion to the market, when a bowl of steaming onion soup and a glass of inky Crozes-Hermitage hit the spot better than a croissant and a café au lait. This exciting new bistro/brasserie, like its owner (and the crowd consisting of the Plateau’s hippest thirty-and-fortysomethings), has character—a quality all too rare on today’s restaurant scene.

THE BIG PICTURE

Restaurant critics receive plenty of letters. They come mostly from readers recommending restaurants they would like to see reviewed. Others, from both restaurant patrons and restaurateurs, offer comments—either glowing or critical—about reviews that run counter to the reader’s experience. Once in a while I receive mail questioning the whereabouts of a favourite chef. Recently, several have started with, “Could you tell me what has become of Martin Picard?”

Besides learning that he was giving the occasional cooking class, I’d heard little about Picard’s whereabouts since he left Le Club des Pins in the summer of 2000. Rumours later began circulating that he planned to open a bistro-and-brasserie-style restaurant, on Avenue Duluth, appropriately named Au Pied de Cochon.

Like his local English counterpart, Globe chef David McMillan, Martin Picard is often considered a culinary enfant terrible: a passionate and opinionated young chef who likes things done his way, favouring artisanal meats and produce over standard ingredients and injecting a large dose of personality into every dish. During his three years at Le Club des Pins, he was acclaimed for his bold take on southern French cuisine, serving whole fish and chickens baked in a salt crust, lamb shanks slow-cooked in fat (confit), and duck magrets piled high with wild mushrooms. Hot foie gras enhanced with lavender honey or chocolate was considered his signature dish.

You’ll find such unusual dishes, and plenty of new ones, at his new restaurant—all reasonably priced under $20. A recent meal here started with “oreilles de crisse,” half-moon-shaped slices of deep-fried lard that were dry, supercrisp, and cut into bite-size pieces far more appealing than the large cabane-à-sucre variety. Following that bit of indulgence came a superb onion soup filled with just the right amount of cheese, croutons, and caramelized onions, everything suspended in a robust of beef broth. A plate of “cochonailles” included a fine assortment of pork charcuterie made in-house. My preferred starter was a simple plate of gently flavoured, thinly sliced smoked ham (credited to a certain Marcel Picard, a farmer from L’Estrie and no relation to the chef) served with croutons doused with peppery virgin olive oil.

Main courses included a delicious Alsatian choucroute consisting of tangy fermented cabbage, Strasbourg sausage, baked ham, and salt pork. The ragout de pattes de cochon is not the usual sauce-heavy stew but an assembly of small meatballs and vegetables topped with a crisp square of breaded, deep-fried—fatty and gelatinous—pig’s feet meat.

As one can expect with any new restaurant, there were a few disappointments. The duck magret was overcooked and tough, and the sliced potatoes served underneath were greasy. Fortunately, the dish was topped with a generous mound of delicious wild mushrooms.

Some dishes could use more seasoning. The foie gras flan served with a purée of figs and croutons is a case in point; it had a smooth texture and pleasant flavour but grew dreary after the first few bites. Although the cassoulet was presented in a beautiful earthenware casserole filled with tender braised lamb and duck confit, its white beans and sauce were simply crying out for salt (I also prefer cassoulet topped with a bread-crumb crust, but that’s a personal preference).

As for dessert, the lemon tart sampled was no more than run-of-the-mill. Far better were the crème caramel, and the velvety baked apple served atop a butter-soaked slice of pain rustique.

DECOR, DRESS, AMBIENCE

Au Pied de Cochon’s original decor is one of its strengths. Napkin rings, menus, and business cards are all emblazoned with an amusing cartoon of the chef, frying pan in hand, riding a smiling pig. Picard was lucky enough to score a locale on one of the city’s most popular restaurant strips that once housed a pizzeria, and he puts its wood-burning oven to good use. Large loaves of country bread are sliced on a butcher’s block next to a refrigerated takeout counter filled with duck confit, tourtières, and foie gras terrines. Other original touches include numbered wood tables, mirrored walls, and an open kitchen filled with chefs wearing funky floppy hats and T-shirts.

WINE LIST

The wine list is filled with a smartly chosen selection of international wines priced between $28 and $167, with two-thirds of the bottles costing less than $55. Au Pied de Cochon may be Avenue Duluth’s only licensed restaurant, but with prices like these, you won’t miss bringing your own.

DON’T MISS

The “oreilles de crisse,” the “cochonailles” plate, the smoked ham plate, the choucroute, the ragout de pattes de cochon, the crème caramel, and the baked apple.

WORDS TO THE WISE

Forget working up an appetite by spending an hour hunting for that elusive parking spot on the Plateau. Taking a cab or walking is your best bet. Au Pied de Cochon is a nonsmoking restaurant. As it says on the menu, “The only smoking permitted here is that of the salmon and ham.”

Au Pied de Cochon

536 Avenue Duluth West (near Berri)

Telephone: (514) 281-1114

Open: 5 P.M.-midnight, Tuesday to Sunday

Wheelchair access: Yes

Reservations: Recommended; nonsmoking environment

Cards: Major cards

Price range: Starters, $5-$18; main courses, $11.50-$20; desserts, $4.75-$8

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i was at APdC about two weeks ago, for supper, by my lonesome. the foie gras au chocolat intrigued me, so i tried it out. good, but not great. it was a GENEROUS serving of seared foie gras on a choco-bread crouton, with carmelized banana, some fruit compote (perhaps rhubarb?), and chocolate sauce. i found the choc sauce was a little overpowering for the taste of the foie gras. each element of the plate was very nice, it's just that not every element went well together. i had a glass of banyuls...

then i had the magret aux champignons sauvages, which was delicious! a generous helping of pink duck breast was fanned out on a pile of roasted (and super tasty) potatoes, with a huge pile of mushrooms (paris, mousserons, and chantrelles), and demi glace. everything was great, and i soaked up all the rest of the sauce with the bread.

for dessert, i went with the pouding chomeur, which was also very good. reminded me of something my mom would have made me when i was a kid.

so there you go!

joey


"Bells will ring, ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting.... the bell... bing... 'moray" -John Daker

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I love their pouding chomeur! As I am originally from beautiful B.C, I didn't grow up with this kind of food and now I can't seem to get enough if it. I got a chance to work there one night last month as one of the cooks was sick and Martin called me. Imagine how happy I was when I got to make the pouding chomeur....and poutine...That was a first for me. Fortunately it came out allright even though I've never worked at La Belle Province. :laugh: Ha HA.

This is a great place and lots of fun.

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I'm ashamed to say this but after 3 tries at Au Pied de Cochon the only dish that I can still "taste" is the poutine avec foie gras which ranks up there with the poutine at Globe which I believe has been taken off the menu.

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Had dinner at Au Pied de Cochon last night and was really impressed.

I started with a bunch of foie gras plates, the best being that crazy delicious foie gras burger: a thick brioche bun, a thick slab of foie gras, and all the fixins. Wow.

Also great, the poutine, the lamb shanks, and the maple-braised pig's trotters. The poutine had the authentic kinda-cheap-tasting brown chicken gravy. Another wow.

And finally the pouding chomeur served in a deep earthenware bowl and the sugar pies for two. The pouding was just great, it had that wicked brown sugar sauce and the cake was kind of starchy -- again completely authentic.

Great little wine list, smooth service, and a fun, loud crowd. I love this restaurant. :wub:

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I completely agree with you Lesley. I went two weeks ago with the crew of opening soon. We had a very good meal. I really liked the deer tongue with tarragon. The lamb shank is better than ever and the pudding chomeur... :rolleyes:


Patrice Demers

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"Pied de cochon" and "Réservoir" have quickly become local haunts for people in the restaurant trade in and around Montréal; it's nice to see such recent additions to the city scene (specially réservoir) getting such a good response especially from a slightly younger crowd.

It all makes for an exciting spring and summer season in the city... dining and drinking wise anyway.


Edited by chopper (log)

Michel

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I think right now, with so many great new unique restaurants and many interesting projects on the horizon, we're seeing the Golden Age of Montreal restaurants. At least of this generation.

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I took my brother-in-law|( a first timer to P.D.C) last week and we feasted on the champvallon de cerf and the brandade- absolutly fantastic. (allthough the portion size and style of potatoes in the champvallon had changed since the last time I had had it)

Wanting to see some of the kitchen action, we had our pouding chomeur and coffee at the bar, where my bro got invited to check out the wood oven and how it works.

His reaction the next day when I called him? "I'm addicted to Au Pied de Cochon" :biggrin:

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I've been a couple of times, and I don't even need the dessert menu anymore. 3 cheers for POUDING! Yum.

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This is about the 7th time I have been there ever since the first week when it opened. I have to say, we had a wicked time last night and everyone just swalloed their plates.

We elaborated a little bit more on the menue, in the past, I had tried the braised shank, the caribou ribs, the longe d'agneau from Ile Verte and a couple more things. We really wanted to get the best of our meat eating night.

I had a taste of everything and it was all good. The onion soup with lard, the bleu cheese salad (that blue cheese was awsome, goat for sure). Salmon gravelax, the crepe was a slight overkill but the dill cream was heaven. Everyone also had the usual foie gras sushi (deep fried cube) and rinced it down witha Madiran.

For entree, two of us, including myself had the pied de cochon (porc leg with foie gras), Jarret d'agneau, salmon in potato crust, magret de canard. The pied de cochon order was truly to die for, I had never seen such an imposing piece with so much flavor. The ability to get a piece of porc, foie gras, french onion, mushroom mustard sauce and cheese potatoe in one bit is really amazing.

The duck was also very good, I did not taste the salmon potatoe crust but it looked very good, it replaces the salt crust he used to make, in this case, it's a piece of salmon, rolled like a sushi roll, in mashed potatoes, flash fried and served in half cones.

The lamb was as always, excellent, very good cuts, and again the bed of lentils very well coocked. In fact what really jumped at me last night was the absolute perfection of the cooking/timing to our table, freshness of the vegetables used. His mashed potatoes are much better in winter since he probably used older less starchy potatoes to do them. It was truly a great meal that ended with the usual Illy coffee, I had a tarte au sucre for two and some had the infamous melted chocolate cake. The tarte au sucre was abolutely goregous to the eye, the way it is dropped into a simple plate, it's shape, texture and color is the apoteosis of quebecois cuisine. We had quite a party.

It is by far the largest meal I ever had, I finished every once of it (and I weight about 150lbs...), this is because I couldn't hold back.

I had the pied de cochon remains (la couenne, the hoof and the bone) rapped. Next morning, I unrapped it, removed the metal clip, dumped the whole thing in a large metal bowl and dropped it outside for my dog's breakfast. He played in the snow for hours with his cochon foot, ended eating every single piece of it, inculding crushing the bone for the marrow, nothing was left behind.... hahahaha.


Edited by identifiler (log)

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:blink: Went to PDC and I was disgusted by the way the kitchen staff looked like and how they keep the open kitchen during the night! :angry:

And the Chef just made my post by finger taste 4 sauces in a row whit the same finger... in the same minute just in front of me... I am in the business, but *%$*&? it is a open kitchen boss, please behave like you care!

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oh come off it. do you complain when you go to schwartz and they throw your liver steak on the cutting board full of blood which has been sitting out on the counter since 11am? a little finger in the sauce never killed anyone (or has it?!). if you dont want the cooks hands in your mouth, don't eat at the restaurant. open kitchen or not, it's still gonna happen.


"Bells will ring, ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting.... the bell... bing... 'moray" -John Daker

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I've written two responses to this post, which I have subsequantly erased as I found them .. well smug.

Using your hands and mouth to taste and feel is part of cooking as I see it. I can see how you might want a clean spoon every time the chef tastes your sauce but that is not practical when he might taste 100-200 times a night. If you think about it, unless you are extremely vigilant, to the point of being obsessive compulsive, you most likely come in contact with the germs of tens if not hundreds of people a day.. from the pole in the metro, to money, to packages, to shaking hands etc...and then you rub your eye and woops, the guy that picked up dog crap in Westmount park this morning just rubbed your eye with you. At least the staff at PDC washed their hands.

In general we are I believe way too paranoid about all this germ stuff. I once worked in a place where the waitress ate a mousse de foie de volaille that had sat on the counter for four hours... I asked her about it and she said that North Americans were paranoid. She was French, and she wasn't sick the next day. I also worked for an extremely well known asian chef in Toronto who used to wear hacked off long underwear in the kitchen. This did not affect his career or his spectacular food, or for that matter the hygene of the kitchen.

Apparently, you also can't eat day old rice that has sat out all night without risk of violent food poisoning. That's strange because I do it at least twice a month.

I like the way that the staff are dressed at PDC. It's casual and if I were still working in kitchens it's the way I would want to dress. As to tasting, and consequently, cooking with your hands: well, it's pretty unavoidable, whether the boss pretends he cares or not.

Myself I would rather that they taste it than not.

I would worry more about the hormones/antibiotics they pumped into your chicken breast at lunch. Or perhaps the fecal matter that continually shows up in tests of ground beef.. not about the fingers.

We've been sticking our fingers in sauces for centuries.

We haven't been buggering cows with syringes full of steroids for centuries and then eating them.

... there.. one less chip on my shoulder...


Edited by skunkbunny (log)

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:smile: I have nothing against being dress relax in a kitchen, dont get me wrong, I do have a problem whit cooks in shorts (security!) and dark brown dirty kitchen cloth hanging from the belt. It is not a question of germs only, it is basically a matter of behaviour and respect for the job you choose to represant (in a open kitchen)! Personally I have met a lot of people who is complaining about the same impressions at the bar of PDC! In this business the first impression is always the good one, so why not help it?

About the finger tasting, I am working in this business for 20 years now, and trust me I can make the difference beetween a simple finger taste and a ' I am a pig' finger taste... Every body can make the difference, even you Skunkbunny! Of course germs are everywhere... I am not paranoîd, I simply care about the image of my job, and i hope that one day this profession will be respected for the good reasons.

I love to go at PDC , but no longer at the BAR. That's it. I worth a post, and I am happy to see you are conrned about it!

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Just think how cool those guys would look wearing chef jackets. Try to picture it.

I don't really care what people wear in the kitchen, but the chef jacket makes people look like pros. Those guys look like busboys.

But I like the fact that Picard dresses down. I say keep Martin in the black shirt, but put the guys with the head scarves and pierced eyebrows in whites.

As for the finger dipping/tasting, if I don't see it, it can't bother me. But sucking up the sauce right in front of the customers is -- again -- unprofessional.

I wouldn't want to get the Asian flu from some line cook at APdC! Talk to a microbiologist. He would freak!

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Yesterday , may 23rd , I was invited to Le Pied de Cochon by mother. It was a Slow Food activity that presented 2 cheeses from les Iles-de-la Madeleine , Le Pied de vent , wich we already know and la Tomme des Demoiselles , wich is still made in too small a batch to be send our way from les Iles. I was seated with my mother , her friend Louise and my friend Isabelle.

I was really looking forward to this evening for two reasons: it was the first time I would attend an evening with Slow Food and I had been once to Pied de Cochon and trully enjoyed my evening.

Unfortunatly , Pied de Cochon did not deliver. It was a costly deception. While nothing was bad , few things where exeptionnal.

First , there seemd to be a bit of problem with the service. Maybe it was due to the fact that they had to served everybody at once , maybe not , but the first 3 courses arrived at the same time...

Now for the food: These 3 items arrived at the same time : Hamburger de foie Gras au Pied de vent , Salades des îles inspirée de la salade César ( Tomme des Demoiselles , Harang fumé du Fumoir d'antan desI_D_M , lardons), petit pot de soupe froide à la tomme des Demoiselle.

Things that were right: the salad! Wow ! It was a mix of greens with pieces of cheese , lardon and somekind of salami , very small croutons and the vinaigrette. What Picard did is put the smoked herrind in the vinaigrette instead of the anchovy ( at least thet was our conclusion since we did not find pieces of herring in the salad , but the salad tasted smoky) Good combination of crunch , saltiness , sweetness and biterness from some of the greens.

The Hamburger was to my taste very good ( it was half a burger per person). Some of my companion thought there was too much bread ( a kind of brioche bun) , but for me this was total indulgence: fat ,greasy, heaven. The burger was garnished with leatuce , sauted muschroom , Tomme des demoiselles and if I am not wrong some kind of reduction of ,or Xeres , or Balsamic, not very sure. I should ask those things !

So far soo good. But it went down hill from there. The petit pot de soupe froide was...hot ! A small masson jar arrived with lid screewed on. It tasted like... cheese fondue with not enough cheese in it ( very liquid) The texture was a bit granny and the taste abit "acre"( What is the english word for " acre"?). Only one person at our table kind of enjoyed it and some friend at another table like it pretty much because it reminded them of a cheese soup they had while visiting Cuba

Next came " Vieille Poule et ravioli farcis au Pied de Vent". The poule was indeed very " Vieille" ! The presentation was two whole poule on a big serving platter. The birds were sitting in the sauce with some very tiny mushrooms and they were scattered with steamed fiddle head. Thank god for the green other wise it would have been a big brown plate. The meat was very dry , so dry that the sauce did not help it much.

It was very difficult to serve: no knives where provided and the birds were not cooked to the falling appart point. It was sad that so many mushrooms were use in a sauce that did not have any mushroom taste.

The Ravioli farcis au Pied de Vent were fun: The waiter brought two tin cans to the table. Picard had made a funny label for the tins that read : Ravioly chef Picardee !

The waiter opened the cans at the table ( with a can opener, obviously) and out came the perfectly cooked , hot raviolis ! ( they taste OK , but nothing exeptionnal)

Vincent Lalonde , the guy who makes the cheeses came in our area of the restaurant to talk to us about his new cheese , that was very good and he brought some charcuterie with him that while not dried enough yet were very promissing.

Dessert was Pouding Chomeur gratiné a la Tomme des Demoiselle. The pouding was quite good , but pouding Chomeur none the less , and it was not gratiné , but some shaving of the Tomme was on the dessert , and it was not hot enough to melt the cheese.

While the portions were very generous ( I brought an almost whole dry Vieille poule back home !) , the final verdict of the evening was dissapointment. Aside from the salad ( and the burger) there was not an AHHH! moment the whole evening. All this is probably due to the fact that Pied de Cochon may not be used to this type of event , i dont know. But to be sure , I wont attend another event there. I will go back to Pied de cochon when they feature there regular menu , because for the big price you pay there ( the event was $80) , i am sure that the food will be a lot better !


visit my fondation: www.ptitslutins.org

I started a food blog : http://antoniodelaruepapineau.blogspot.com/

(in french)

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      First , there seemd to be a bit of problem with the service. Maybe it was due to the fact that they had to served everybody at once , maybe not , but the first 3 courses arrived at the same time...

I have been to APDC 7 times in the last 2-3 years; 3 times when I thought the food was quite good, and the last four just felt like a continuing downward slide. My last meal was a considerable disappointment.

Regardless of the food, service has been a habitual problem at the restaurant and it's irrespective of how busy the place is. I'll be letting others report on improvements before electing to go back again.

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As much as it pains me to say so, my recent experiences jibe with toto2's and wattacetti's. The food has been uneven, with the salads the only invariably outstanding category. The wine list has become weak at the low end (sub-$50), in apparent contradiction of APDC's bistro du peuple vocation. I had noticed fewer service gaffes than in the past, though I see not everyone would agree.

A few weeks ago, a couple of good friends — like me, faithful patrons of APDC since its earliest days — chose the restaurant for their birthday dinner. After they described the meal (plutôt décevant is the phrase that stood out), we agreed we'd be giving APDC a pass in the future except during local seafood season. And even then we'll make sure they don't ruin the gorgeous fish with their frustrating habit of stuffing every cavity with fresh tarragon, a treatment that works well with strongly flavoured fish like mackerel but totally overwhelms baby flounders and freshwater perch.

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The toughest review I ever wrote was one dropping APdC to two stars last summer. My meal there was a disaster and I walked away beyond disappointed.

I know Picard can pull out all the stops and produce some incredible food. But that just isn't happening consistently any more. I don't send friends there because most of the ones I sent in the past had a bad experience. The place is just too damn busy.

Hopefully, these are just growing pains, and the restaurant will buckle down and produce some great food again.

I mean, even the pouding chomeur is lacking, and it used to be quite wonderful.

Let's keep our fingers crossed.

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Toto, how do I get plugged in to Slow Food events in Montreal? I am a member of Slow Food San Francisco, but a lot of the time I seem to be here when they have an interesting event there.

I don't know if membership there counts here also - I should find that out!


Edited by sf&m (log)

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