Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Au Pied de Cochon: pig-out, Montreal style

The Boy's birthday coincided with our trip to Montreal, so when I asked where he wanted to go for his celebratory meal, he had an immediate answer: Au Pied de Cochon.

Both our previous Montreal trips had included visits to this palace of porkiness; it's one of those restaurants that, when brought up in conversation, causes a Pavlovian reaction for us. And we were pretty sure The Boy's parents would approve. (They did. Oh, boy, they did.)

Au Pied de Cochon is a long, narrow, noisy room, with clusters of tables at both ends and a bar that runs the length of the intervening space. If you sit at the bar, you get to watch the chefs at work in the tiny kitchen.

On past visits, we've sat at a table in front, squished between other diners and subject to waiter traffic. This time, we got a table at the back of the room, which felt a little calmer (though no less cacophonous).

We started with a plate of cochonailles (which, as we learned from the
pig-fest at Craigie Street Bistrot, kind of translates to "little bits of porkular loveliness"). And then to the main event.

The Boy's mom went for the signature dish, a fabulous plate of pig's foot braised until fall-apart tender, with pommes purées and a crispy mushroom-cream-filled cake.

The Boy's dad had the lamb shank confit.

Do I even need to say how gloriously moist and juicy and fatty it was? (Wanna make it yourself?
Here's a recipe. Stock up on duck fat.)

I had the PDC Melting Pot, a crock stuffed with pommes purées topped with garlic pork sausage, blood sausage, pork belly and bacon, as well as a couple of sweet roasted onions. Yes, it looks obscene. No, I couldn't eat the whole thing, though I gave it a damn good try.

And The Boy?

On our first visit, he'd considered getting the poutine with foie gras because it seemed so decadent. On our second--having actually tried poutine--he thought about it but passed for something else. And then we made
our own version of posh poutine at home, and he came to fully grasp its potential.

When we started to talk about taking his parents to Montreal, he mentioned the poutine with foie gras. When we discussed going to Au Pied de Cochon, he observed that they had poutine with foie gras.

And so, finally, he got what he wanted. It may look like hell, but it tastes like heaven.

Au Pied de Cochon is a fun, lively place. (And loud. Did I mention it's loud?) The crowd is young and hip, the staff are cute in a tousled punk/pirate sort of way, and the restroom is awesome:

Yes, that's a full-on dishwashing sink with rinsing nozzle. And yes, the hand towels are in a steam table.

Oh, and they have a dish called canard en conserve--or, en anglais, the less-romantic-sounding duck in a can. The adorable chef/waiter couple from Toronto, sitting at the next table (close enough that we could follow their conversation, apparently) ordered it, and we got to watch as it was served. From the can. A can-opener is involved.

I wasn't able to take photos, so I direct you to
Claudine's gorgeous frame-by-frame reveal on Flickr. And take a look at the rest of her PDC set; her camera skeelz are much better than mine!

Anyway, we have to go back. We still haven't tried the duck carpaccio, or the bison tongue, or the venison tongue, or the (gasp!) pied de cochon stuffed with (gasp!) foie gras, or ...

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