Finally! Those are the words used to express Diva #1’s feelings when her Aunty told her that we were going to Au Pied de Cochon restaurant for Senior Diva’s birthday. The Divas had tried the sugar shack last winter and have been addicted to Martin Picard’s cuisine ever since. We quickly made reservations to the sugar shack in September for their apple inspired menu but we had yet to go to the restaurant. Menu items like pig’s feet, head cheese, boudin and the infamous duck in a can made us salivate at the thought. To make matters worse, we recently tried their foie gras poutine at their food truck, as well as a duck leg au confit slathered in maple BBQ sauce. Can Chef Picard make anything taste good?
Diva #1 has both Au Pied de Cochon (PDC) cookbooks and often drools over the imaginative recipes and creative photos. When Aunty got us a reservation at PDC, her heart skipped a beat and not only because her cholesterol heightened with the thought of foie gras and duck fat on everything. She left work on Friday feeling elated and met Aunty and Senior Diva who had already started drinking without her. Thank god they had not started eating, or we would have had a problem! Pied de Cochon has an extensive wine list, full bar for cocktails and even their own PDC beer. Everyone around us seemed to be ordering mojitos but we stuck to red wine.
There were many specials of the night and we chose to order two of them, one being the pan seared foie gras with goat cheese and raspberries on a brioche. Decadence does not properly describe this dish, it was marvelous. We would almost be willing to give up sex…almost. Grapes decorated this generous appetizer and the sauce was exquisite. The brioche was moistened by the sauce but not soggy and the goat cheese was strong, just how we like it. Thankfully, Senior Diva and Aunty were too busy talking and trying other appetizers to notice that Diva #1 basically ate this entrée on her own. This was without a doubt the best foie gras plate that Diva #1 has ever had, the tartness of the goat cheese, coupled with the richness of the foie gras and the sweetness of the fruit, was mind blowing.
Aunty and Senior Diva were complaining that they could not eat all of this heavy food without a vegetable (it sucks to get old), since ordering a boring green salad at PDC would have been sacrilege, we opted for another table d’hôte special, the zucchini flowers. Perfectly crispy and large, the zucchini flowers were oily and delicious and served with a mini zucchini attached to each flower’s end. Diva #1 was reminded of her grandmother who used to fry up zucchini flowers but these were much larger and less soggy than the ones she remembers as a child.
PDC has both bison and deer tartare on their menu. On this night they were out of deer meat so we opted for the bison tartare. Cut thickly, the meat was rich and gamey. It was not cubed, which is the traditional fashion that meat tartares are served but instead it was almost ripped in thick shreds. Usually bison tartare is not as easily distinguishable from beef tartare as it was in this dish. The portion was huge and because it was also a main meal it came with a green salad and their famous fries cooked in duck fat.
That is correct, if our entire meal was not rich enough, our tartare came with French fries cooked in duck fat and oh what a marvelous difference duck fat makes. PDC is not for the squeamish, it is for adventurous eaters who love to indulge in sinfully good food. If you are on a diet or worried about your caloric intake, go somewhere else but we assure you, fries cooked in duck fat are worth the calories.
The pièce de resistance of the night was the Plateau PDC which cased tons of their seafood. Our waiter had warned us that it was a lot of food, especially after we ordered so many appetizers but we are not easily deterred and Aunty wanted her seafood platter. Littleneck clams, two types of oysters, fried clams in an amazing creamy tartar-like sauce, mussels with a marinara stuffing, grilled octopus, squid, etc. Oh and these amazing stuffed oysters, they were stuffed with crunchy tempura like pieces and a creamy, cheesy saucy goodness. While the waiter was listing everything, Diva#1 did her best to remember everything but she was too much in awe of the amazing seafood platter before us, she just couldn’t focus. But the photo speaks for itself.
Last but not least came the much coveted, and raved about, duck in a can, aka canard en conserve. ½ a magret de canard, 100g of foie gras, 60ml of balsamic meat glaze, 180 ml of buttered cabbage, half a roasted garlic head and 2 branches of thyme. Sounds simple enough? Well it isn’t. All of these ingredients are stuffed in a can and then cooked to perfection. The waiter arrives at your table with the can and a can opener and opens it in front of you, plops it on a plate and the aromas wafting out are more intense than grandma’s Sunday cooking.
The duck in a can was tender and wonderful, Diva #1’s only complaint is that she prefers her duck skin very crispy and because it was cooked in a can, it wasn’t broiled at any point. However, had they brought out a torch to crisp the skin, well she may have just died on the spot, so perhaps it was all for the best. The foie gras was basically cooked in duck and duck fat and the entire canned delight was lick your fingers good, and lick the plate good…
After this delicious meal that was heavy but magnificent, we still ordered three different desserts. We were celebrating a birthday so we had to indulge! Aunty ordered the traditional crème caramel that she was happy with, and Diva #1 found it enjoyable too. Oddly it did not arrive turned over so that the burnt caramel could run over the flan, but instead it was still in its little pot.
The crème brûlée was enjoyable but Diva #1 has had better, the custard was a touch too runny for a crème brûlée, it needed to be a little stiffer. Other than that it was tasty but nontheless a typical crème brûlée, and after a dinner like we had had, we expected magnificence.
The poached pears with vanilla ice cream was the winner of the night. Senior Diva ordered this dessert and we suppose that since this was her birthday dinner she deserved to get the best dessert. The pears were soft but not overcooked and the syrup that they were cooked in was not too sweet but perfect and well spiced. It was perfect with the vanilla ice cream and we tasted cardamom in the dessert.
Pied de Cochon is an expensive night out but everything is cooked with the highest quality ingredients and beautiful duck fat and foie gras. We would love to return for the pig’s feet, head cheese, boudin and other items on their long menu that we did not get a chance to sample. We cannot wait for our sugar shack reservation in September where we will indulge some more. For now, back on the elliptical, we need to burn some calories after that dinner.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: Always on Thursdays, Bison Tartare, Bison Tongue, Boudin, Calamari, Canard en Conserve, Clams, Cocktails, Crème Brûlée, Crème Caramel, Deer Tartare, Duck, Duck Carpaccio, Duck in a Can, Duluth, foie gras, Foie Gras Poutine, Fondant, Guinea Hen, Head Cheese, Martin Picard, Montreal, Octopus, oysters, PDC, Pig’s Feet, Pig’s Head, Plateau, Reservations Needed, Seafood, Seafood Platter, Shrimp, Table d’hôte, Tartare, Terrine, wine