I had a couple of blog-worthy experiences recently and they all revolve around this man:
Martin Picard – He is a local charachter…rough, raw, seemingly sweet and an utter culinary genius. He has breathed new life into our local fare.
His revival of this old-fashioned, Quebecois cuisine – has reintroduced it to Quebecers in a new way as well as to people from other backgrounds and from around the world! Its exciting for Quebec.
I recently scored a reservation for Au Pied de Cochon. Obviously this place has been around for many years but I was late-commer to it – hesitant. I had heard of their famous fois-gras poutine which sounded too over-the-top for me. Also, the seemingly uber-rustic impression I had of the cuisine kept me away. Did you ever see him on television??? Cooking a bird with the feathers on??…with his lumberjack jacket and messy hair?…he’s got an ax… So, until I saw a few Anthony Bourdain episodes about Martin’s world, I stayed away.
Yes, his menu has its share of brain, maybe some heart, fois-gras a million different ways, pig foot stuffed with fois-gras… fois-gras stuffed with more fois-gras but they are a lot more than an orgy of fatty liver and organs- thankfully. They have succulent seafood, beautiful fish dishes, the most delicious french fries (fried in duck fat) you have ever had. Everything is prepared with care and although it may seem like the dish is “unkempt” or straight forward, the flavors are well thought out and complex. When you have a french fry at PDC, it will be the best french-fry or the best duck or the best fois you have ever had! The fois-gras poutine IS over the top but it is THE BEST poutine I have ever had.
Do you see the marbling of the light and dark gravies pictured below? Incredible. I just want to run down to the restaurant and stuff my face with it. It is 9:02 AM and I am salivating, sad creature that I am.
This pic doesn’t do the dish any justice. Looks like cheese wiz here but it is a beige, creamy gravy marbled with a brown gravy. (I rarely eat fois-gras cause I am not crazy about the texture, but my husband took care of that…and then we were kinda’ fencing with our forks for the last of the fries and cheese)
Ok, some facts. A lot of the food is “rich”, (no shit) . Actually, that might be too subtle…many items are down-right artery-clogging! If you take cholesterol medication, don’t forget to take it. In fact, take two! You are not limited to that type of food but its kinda’ their thing. Didn’t I hear that duck fat is a good fat?
You need to reserve quite a few weeks in advance for a party larger than two. Its loud, super friendly and quite casual. Not casse-croute-casual; jeans and a t-shirt would be fine but if its a Saturday night, there will be people looking casual but polished. Jeans and a button down / nice top is what I recommend.
They have a good beer & cocktail selection and a great wine list.
I had the delicious cod fritters to start and then, duck in a can. I had to try it. It is a full meal cooked in a sealed can! It was so delicious but after having had the poutine, I really should have opted for that gorgeous grilled tuna steak with potato fritters, which was the evening’s special. But after all, I was at Au Pied de Cochon and had to try one of their classics.
They open the can right at your table, with a can opener, and pour the contents on to your dish; the melt-in-your mouth duck meat and gravy emerge onto your plate of vegetables & potatoes – steaming hot and delicious!
My husband is French-Canadian and never really talked much about local cuisine or expressed any desire to go to a restaurant like this because he had access to similar foods all this life. Pig feet stew (Ragout de pate de cochon) with potatoes, tourtiere and ham etc.. I guess its like me with pasta. I don’t really like to have pasta when I go out because I can eat great pasta at home.
Au Pied de Cochon must really be something special because he calls it the best restaurant in Montreal. Yes, Mr. filet mignon & fries loves this place so, so much. He becomes starry-eyed when he talks about it, fantasizing about when he will return 🙂
I hope you try it soon!