I finally went to Au Pied Du Cochon yesterday as a b-day treat. I've had Martin's Picard book since last X-mas and I was eager to try some of the dishes.
It was quite busy (Sunday evening) and good thing we (My GF and I) had a reservation because a lot of people were turned away. At 10pm when we left there was still a line-up. They had us waiting at the bar with a drink, so that was ok. For how busy it was, they didn’t rush us at all. They let us take our time. Service was great, attentive, genuinely interested (I made a small comment about the pork cartilage croquette and they were really listening).
We had acras de morue as apéro, they were very hot, slightly spicy with home made mayo. We shared an appetizer: fiddleheads on a cheesy potato cake with ham and a sunny side up egg with some parmesan shavings. This was great, I could eat this as breakfast.
Mains: GF had Plogue de champlain (buckwheat pancake with potatoes, bacon, foie gras, cheese and maple syrup), I had the Pied de cochon that came on mash made with cream, roasted garlic and cheese, with a creamy mustard sauce. The Plogue was nice but overly sweet, after trying 2 bites I was already bored. Same problem with my dish, the initial flavors were interesting but I quickly lost interest: it was too rich, too fat, too overpowering. There was nothing wrong with it, but I think it is not my style of cooking.
I think I am more Mediterranean influenced. A heavy or fat piece of meat needs to contrast with something light, something that breaks down the fat (lemon, vinegar, greens, herbs, etc).
Anyways, there was also a croquette of something that I couldn’t quite place (I thought it was headcheese). But that turned out to be pork cartilage. Again, very fat, creamy texture not much flavor (and my reason for discussing with the waitress).
For dessert I had churros and custard made from maple syrup for dipping with a café robidoux (coffee with baileys and cognac, actually it came separated as cup of espresso and 2 shots of booze, kind of dissappointing).
The total bill was around $180 (service and taxes included), so I was very happy I had the gift certificate. (We also had a $50 bottle of wine, Primitivo Salento 2005 Conti Zecca, a glass of red chianti and a pint of coup de grisou).
Overall a good experience, well prepared food but a tidbit too expensive. The cholesterol and fat took the whole night to break down and we didn’t sleep well because of it. I still had a heavy stomach the next morning.
So I am very glad I went, but will I go back … maybe, but I will have something lighter … then again it would’ve been a waste to go to APDC and not order their quintessential dishes. Do I recommend the place? Sure. Will I be taking people from out of town? I don’t think so, I’d rather take them to L’Atelier where they serve great Quebecois terroir cuisine, much lighter prepared with the same care and respect for the ingredients. ( I still reminisce about their tartare de canard with brown rice) And I heard it's a BYOB now, so my wallet will be grateful too.
Side note: I am quite an accomplished cook myself (no formal training though). I guess it becomes harder and harder for a restaurant to impress me. Also the price you pay on average in a restaurant makes me think twice e.g. the lobster yesterday was $25 a pound, the fresh lobsters I bought only a week ago were $6.99 for 1 ½ pound and they came from Poissonnerie Antoine, one of APDC suppliers.