536 Duluth Est.
T: +1 514 281 1114
Brief Description: Known as one of the best restaurants in Montréal, Au Pied de Cochon is unpretentious and affordable with a heavy lean towards meat and foie gras.
A restaurant that appears to be on the lips of many foodies in Montréal, and also here in Vancouver, is Au Pied de Cochon. Prior to my trip to Montréal, I asked a group of foodies where I should eat whilst there and the resounding answer was “Au Pied de Cochon!!” This well-known restaurant was already well on my radar and so, with such acclaim, I endeavoured to make it a culinary stop. Luck would have it that I actually managed to get my sister and I a much sought-after reservation – the food God’s must have been looking down on me. I was already familiar with the restaurant after catching a glimpse of Martin Picard’s show, “The Wild Chef”, so my expectations were quite high. For those that don’t know who he is, Martin Picard (the owner) is a Quebecois local who is known for making vegetarian’s shudder with his talk of using as much of the animal that he can for food and for being vocal about his love of the extremely controversial foie gras.
With that said, it is not surprising that the menu reads like a farmyard massacre newspiece. You can choose from pig (of course), duck, guinea fowl, beef, lamb, bison and one fish dish. You aren’t going to find much in the way of vegetables on this menu! The big attraction certainly seems to be the abundance of foie gras dishes on the menu – you can have it on a burger, over poutine, in a tart or one of the many other ways that it is offered. You can even have pork stuffed with foie gras.
Au Pied de Cochon is hidden away on Duluth Est, off of St. Denis. Surprisingly, although it is a critic favourite, the restaurant is very unpretentious with an elegant, modern exterior. We arrived for our 8.30pm reservation and although it was a Sunday night, the restaurant was heaving! Even with a reservation we still had to wait for our table to clear. Thankfully, the wait wasn’t too long and we were ushered to our table where we sat back to enjoy what would be the best meal of our trip.
The interior of the restaurant was very unassuming and welcoming. The warm wood of the interior and the closeness of the tables, helped make it feel comfortable and slightly rustic. Our waiter was friendly and started us off with the house beer, Pied de Cochon, which was a refreshing, clean beer. We then went on to share the zucchini blossoms. The stuffing was a little flavourless and not at all remarkable but the small zucchini’s that were attached to the blossom saved the dish from mediocrity, as they were bursting with simple flavour.
On the other hand, the Confit Lamb Shank could never be confused with being mediocre. Enhanced with a delicious rub, the meat was so perfectly cooked that it was falling from the bone. Served with a side of flavourful lentils (there is a sentence you don’t hear often!), the meal was executed perfectly. I did have pangs of guilt whilst thinking that perhaps I should have tried some of the more unusual offerings, such as the Duck in a Can, any number of the pork dishes or perhaps have put aside my feelings of aversion for foie gras, in order to try something that the restaurant is well-known for. But I quickly shook off those feelings of guilt as I absolutely loved the lamb. We also ordered a side of poutine (without the foie gras) but we weren’t wowed by this.
Dessert was fantastic. I couldn’t go past the Chocolate Molten Cake, which was served with a butterscotch sauce and cranberries. I ended this already amazing meal with a spoon in my hand, digging around a warm Chocolate Molten Cake waiting for that pool of chocolate to come oozing out. What a great ending to a wonderful meal!
Final Thoughts: Au Pied de Cochon has earned its acclaim. The meal was easily the best one that we had on our visit to Montréal and Quebec City. And the price is extremely modest considering that it is one of the most talked about restaurants in Montréal. Make sure you reserve!