Search This Blog

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Au Pied du Cochon Restaurant Review

One of Montreal's most famous restaurants is called Au Pied du Cochon. I think it is probably in every guide book as a must go whenever you are in the city. Mostly this is because pretty much everything on the menu apart from the water contains massive amounts of foie gras; this is the kind of restaurant and would bring PETA and cardiologists everywhere to their knees. In short this is my kind of place.

The restaurant is in Montreal's trendiest neighborhoods. It also doesn't have a sign that I could spot. This is the second trendy place that I've gone to that doesn't have a sign. I suppose if you don't know what it is then you are not cool enough to go in? Is it a good way to keep the food Philistines out? Who knows.

I went with the Cheap Ethnic Eatz dining group so there were quite a few of us. 10 or 11 in total I believe. We were put at a table that was jammed behind a half wall which divided the dining room. This made for a rather cramped dining experience for a few people unfortunately. The inside was pretty straightforward and decorated with a lot of wood. Very Quebecois.

After we were all seated the waitress came by to take drink orders. At this point she announced that they had a full bar so even though they didn't have a cocktail menu they could make whatever we wanted. Thus began my drink saga: I ordered a lychee martini, they couldn't make it. Then I asked if they had mandarin voka, nope, no such luck. I enquired about lemon vodak, again the answer was no. I then asked if they could make me a bellini, they didn't even know what that was. In the end the only thing they could offer me was hard liqour or a cosmo. All of this took fifteen minutes in which the waitress went back and forth between the table and the bar to talk to the barman. This whole charade was pretty pitiful. Please don't claim to have a "full bar" and then be completely unable to make anything but the most ubiquitous drink. I was not impressed. Maybe I am too demanding but after all of that I felt I should have gotten a free drink on the house but all I got was a glass of water. Also, the menu had no explanations of the dishes and the waitress kept on leaving even though we had lots of questions. We basically had the chance to ask one question before she walked off and then we would have to try to flag her down again. I was not impressed.

Anyways after all of that I ordered my appetizer which was a cromesquis. This is basically a cube of foie gras, breaded then deep fried. This causes the foie gras to liquify so when you eat it you need to do it in one mouthfull otherwise it will squirt everywhere. I only had one square in case you are wondering, three other people ordered the same thing hence the four squares. The cromesquis was rich. Very, very rich. When you eat it you can feel the glug of fat coating your throat. It was ok, I am glad I tried it but it was too heavy for me.

This was a foie gras tart which someone else ordered. As you can see from the pink slabs of foie gras the restaurant does not skimpy on it. Sorry the picture is blurry! I was taking this from halfway across the table.

I ordered the foie gras duo which is comprised of the foie gras burger and the foie gras poutine. Since I was letdown so far I was really hoping that my main course would be spectacular. Especially for the price I was paying. Before my food arrived the waiter brought me a towel and some lemon water because he said it would get messy.

The burger was huge. I should have put a water glass or something besides it in the picture so you could compare the sizes it but suffice it to say that I literally could not put it in my mouth and take a bite. The middle was a meat patty with a huge chunk of foie gras embedded in the middle. There was also cheese and a balsamic reduction doused over everything.

After futilely trying to pick it up to take a bite but ending up with balsamic reduction smeared all over my face I settled for eating my burger with a knife and fork. The meat was astoundingly mediocre in quality. There were a few pieces of chewy gristle that made for unpleasant eating. This was just bad trimming of the meat. I make hamburgers at home from steak which I mince and I always take out all of the fat and nerves from the meat beforehand. Please don't try to tell me that a high class restaurant did not have the time or care to do this properly! The balsamic reduction was nice but ended up making the bug a soggy mess. A bun whose quality was sorely lacking and tasted like it had come from the neighborhood supermarket. The foie gras portion was generous but overwhelming. It felt like the restaurant was trying to make of for the sloppy quality by attempting to impress the diner with their foie gras portions. Sorry, not working. As well, one half of my burger was inexplicably covered with mashed potatoes which made it seem as though they had dropped it on someone else's mashed potato laden plate, fished it out and then served it to me. This was so huge I didn't even come close to finishing it. The foie gras portions were so disproportionate to everything else on the plate that I left around half of it.

I fared better with the poutine. I have to say the portion was small. I think I literally had 12 french fries on my plate which was incredibly bizarre and miserly given that french fries were the cheapest part of the dish. The gravy was excellent, it was made from venison stock I believe, but it was lukewarm. It did not come close to melting the cheese and was already coagulating by the time my food was served. Once again the foie gras portion was generous but having a big chunk of foie gras accompanied by 12 french fries is patently ludicrous. I left half of it as well given that I didn't feel like eating foie gras by itself and by this point I was feeling a little nauseous with the amount of fat in the meal. I love indulgent food but even I have my limits.

I was not able to stay for dessert because I had to run and catch my train but given the quality of my main course I was not feeling too optimistic about taking my chances. This meal ended up costing me 65 bucks with tax and tip with a 3.50$ appetizer and no beverages. I don't mind paying for good food but mediocrity annoys me. This place had a lot of hype which made my disappointment even worse because I was prepared to be impressed. Afterwards I spoke to someone else who had been there five times and she said that when it first started it was flawless but as time went on and the place got more press and the chef got his own TV show that the restaurant started going downhill and relying on its reputation. To be fair the chef was not there when I went, but given that it was a Tuesday night and the place was packed I don't think that resting on their laurels is doing any harm to their bottom line. The other people in the dining club seemed fairly pleased with their choices so maybe I just picked some duds on the menu.

Here are some pictures I took of everyone else's meals.

I can't remember what this was but it involved foie gras.

The eponymous Pig's Feet. Au Pied du Cochon means "at the pig's feet" in French.

I believe this was a lamb shank confit on a bed of lentils.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin