I wanted this, badly. I’ve been hearing about it for years. I finally made plans to go and experience it. It is Au Pied de Cochon (“at the foot of the pig”), the swine-centric Montreal restaurant opened in 2001 by visionary chef and entrepreneur Martin Picard.
First, let me start by saying that the food here is very, very good and very, very rich. It is all about flavors, the dining experience and excess. You feel like you’re in the know when you first enter this rustic French-Canadian bistro. You see eager diners huddled, talking excitedly about the nose-to-tail experience awaiting them. It’s that place.
Au Pied de Cochon is a small, warm and utilitarian place, tables are close together and the kitchen is open and lively. Fires are going and the staff is hustling. There are a lot of people, cooks and wait staff, working for a relatively small place.
I sat in the back at the narrow bar, along with some other folks that quickly became friends. The staff is friendly, extremely knowledgeable and will help guide you – they are excellent, in that well-trained, but casual way that great restaurants are – part friend, part Sherpa. Listen to them.
I started with bread and a special cured meat made at their restaurant in the woods, the Sugar Shack, that they had that day. Rich and salty, a bit sour and studded with pork fat, it was a great way to start the meal. I ordered a stiff Old Fashioned and was on my way.
The next course that was suggested was pig heart salad with greens, raw egg yolk and walnuts. The heart was both tender and chewy with an amazingly vibrant flavor. This was my first heart and I was sold. The raw egg melded perfectly with the greens and walnuts. This is a deeply satisfying dish, very homey and comforting.
I was full and a little disappointed by not being able to go for more. I ordered another drink. I decided to push forward. My server guided me to the lobster sundae: A half-pound of lobster, huge pieces of foie gras, deep-fried balls of mashed potatoes topped with roe and two thick straws filled with Champagne. This amazing capper to a meal I’ll never forget left me completely satiated and certainly not disappointed anymore.
Next time I’m going to tackle the duck-in-a-can and the foie gras section of the menu. FYI, If I’m with someone and feeling adventurous, the pig’s head for two looked amazing…
Au Pied de Cochon
536 Avenue Duluth East, Montréal, QC H2L 1A9, Canada
Tel: 514 281 1114