I’ve eaten at Au Pied de Cochon, Anthony Bourdain’s favourite Canadian restaurant, a few times over the past few years.
But my recent meal at this famous Montreal eatery owned by “wild chef” Martin Picard and known for its love of pork, affinity for foie gras and sublimely downhome-yet-modern take on Quebec fare was by far the best yet.
Only able to get a table for two at the bar at 9:30 pm on Good Friday, my boyfriend Ross and I arrived on time to find the place humming, buzzing, alive and extremely well.
We had a perfect view of the flushed-faced young kitchen crew wielding pots, pans and whisks in the steamy open kitchen in front of us as they dished up one delicious dish after the other. Picard was not there and, we were told, is usually at his new place called Sugar Shack these days located on the outskirts of Montreal.
We tried not to wolf down all of the luscious homemade sourdough bread cut in hearty slices which we smeared with luscious butter. We also restrained ourselves when ordering and decided to share an appetizer and entree: the PDC Crsipy salad followed by the PDC’s Melting Pot – two excellent choices, it turned out.
The salad was lettuce and wilted tomatoes topped with various, mostly crispy bits of pork including belly, skin and tendon, all doused in a warm, tangy balsamic vinaigrette mixed with sauce from the meat. Wow – talk about the wow factor!
Ordering anything with the restaurant’s name on it is probably a good idea as the PDC’s Melting Pot was another winner. The house mashed potatoes inundated with melted cheese curds came in a metal pan topped with blood sausage, pieces of pork and other homemade sausage chunks. Sensational.
With one beer, this filling repast came to less than $40 before tip. More important, sitting at that bar, we experienced restaurant dining at its exciting and delicious best. Au Pied de Cochon is the most joyous place to break bread I’ve found in all my travels.