Thursday, June 9, 2011

Travel Thursday: Montreal's Au Pied de Cochon

I keep meaning to get back on writing about Costa Rica and LA, but due to the seasonality of the meal we had at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal a couple weeks ago I just had to jump the line with it.

When the Boy and I planned out a long weekend in Montreal we knew we had to hit Au Pied de Cochon, Chef Martin Picard's place.  From what I've seen and read of Chef Picard, he's kind of a King of Quebecoise fare, loves foie gras, uses it as much as possible and made famous cooking duck in can.

Because we only called for a reservation 2 weeks in advance, we had a 10pm reservation on a Saturday night.  For such a popular restaurant, that's not too bad.  The Shack's visited Montreal last summer on their way back to Toronto from our wedding in Rhode Island and had to stay and extra day to get into APDC at 10:45pm!  So we happily took the later reservation.   If you have to dine a bit earlier make sure to plan ahead and give yourself more than a few weeks to make a reservation.

With all of the road work that we had experienced to this point in Montreal, we gave ourself some extra time to get to the restaurant.  Lucky for us we actually got there 15 minutes early!  We were quickly ushered over to the bar, where the bartender told us about the day's drink specials.  I jumped on the Frozen Lemonade cocktail because it was muggy outside and toasty in the restaurant.  It was ridiculously refreshing and the perfect balance of sweet and tart.  I gulped it back pretty quickly as we waited for our table. So quickly in fact that the Boy suggested I switch to something else to save from getting too polluted too early in the meal. Always looking out for me.

As we perused the menu and heard the specials we realized that APDC is absolutely a restaurant that we need to return to with at least one other couple, if not more.  There were so many things we wanted to try on the menu but knew we just wouldn't have the room necessary to try all we wanted.

Based on the recommendation of Chef Dammann from DNA and the massive cases of shellfish that we walked by as we entered the restaurant, we started off with a shellfish platter.  Our server said that the smallest size is a good starter-size for two, as much as we wanted a multi-tiered platter, we thought that a small was a good place to start to leave us room for some other great eats.  No disrespect to our server, but the small platter was practically enough for a meal for each of us, but it was oh so good.  From massive clams to fresh oysters to sea urchin to abalone and the best octopus salad I've ever had it was amazing.  Oh and I can't forget to mention the massive bowl of periwinkles which brought me right back to my childhood of foraging in the rocks along the beach for these cute little sea snails.  Yes snails, but I promise you steamed or sauteed or however these were cooked they were delicious if a bit tough to get out of the shells.

Somewhere during the gluttony of tasting everything on the shellfish platter, our other starter arrived.  A special on that day of a seared scallop in a lobster hollandaise with fiddleheads.  It may not look like much but from the perfectly, and I mean perfectly, cooked scallop to the buttery hollandaise made sweet with little bits of lobster to the fresh and crisp fiddleheads we dragged this little dish out into four perfect bites.

Luckily we had a breather before what ended up being our one and only main was served.  The Boy drank his beer and sipped on a iced cold glass of white wine as we let all of the seafood settle and prepped our bellies for a dish that APDC is very well-known for.  Foie Gras Poutine.  You might be thinking, really? That was your main course? Poutine? When you have this poutine you'll understand why.  From the perfectly squeaky cheese curds to the duck fat fries to the hot gravy and the obscene amount of foie gras added at the very end so that the hot fries and hot gravy melt it and make it into this ridiculously rich and most perfect poutine I've ever had.

We held onto a menu hoping that at this stage of the game we'd have room to try something else.  The Boy even optimistically narrowed it down to a couple dishes for us to choose between.  But by the time we finished the poutine we knew the only thing we could order at this stage of the meal was dessert.

Though it's not my fave, our first choice was Sugar Pie since it is a classic Quebecoise dessert and I had a feeling if I was ever going to appreciate it, it would be here.  They had unfortunately sold out of the Sugar Pie but our server recommended the Pudding Chomouer and described it a warm soft white cake topped with maple syrup and vanilla bean ice cream.  It sounded good to us so we went with it.

When dessert arrived we were hit with the sweet aroma of maple syrup.  The cake was hot and the ice cream started melting turning the whole thing into a pudding of cake, maple and vanilla cream.  Though we didn't think we had anymore room, we inhaled this dessert.  It sounds so simple and unremarkable and yet was insanely good.  I might need to do some recipe research and try to replicate it, it was that good.

As if that wasn't a wonderful enough way to end the meal Sarah Jane, our server, brought over a bottle of Calvados and poured three shots promising us it would help soothe our overstuffed bellies and she wanted to celebrate a bit since we were her last table and she wasn't closing on this Saturday night.  We weren't sure about the soothing out tummies part, but having both worked in restaurants we could both appreciate how great it is to not be closing on a Saturday night.  Plus who are we to turn away a free drink?  Sarah Jane was absolutely right, the Calvados went to work on the full belly so that when we finally got back to the hotel to crash into our food comas that overstuffed feeling was gone.

All in all if was a fabulous meal, one that has us excited to return to Au Pie de Cochon this fall.

Au Pied de Cochon
536 Duluth Est

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