I've been to Montreal a couple of times now, but never with much of a foodie eye. Not that I haven't had some delicious meals there, but I've always been there for some other purpose that didn't quite correspond with working out a good restaurant.
That changed with this trip. G and I were meeting friends there, and prior to our trip we decided to book a couple of reservations. The first choice, and in most ways the most obvious choice, was Au Pied de Cochon. I say this not only because Anthony Bourdain is a fan, but because it's gotten an enormous amount of press, great blog reviews, and it looked really interesting.
The story behind Au Pied de Cochon is that it's a French restaurant, big on portions, big on meat, and in love with the foie gras. It's luxury at its most luxurious, really.
When I looked at the restaurant online, I was not sure what to expect from the space itself. Is the restaurant going to be stuffy or formal? Would the staff be helpful? Could I convince anyone at the table to share the poutine with fries cooked in duck fat?
I was pleasantly surprised on all counts. The restaurant is definitely comfortable, with a very narrow walkway between the bar and the tables. The floor was very slick, and I kept slipping on my way to the table. But I was really immediately made comfortable by the location. Lots of wood, lots of niceties, and a very congenial host. Good times!
We purused the menu, and I settled on my order. Tomato Tart for a starter and the lamb shank with frites for my main course. G DID want to try the poutine, so my frite order became a poutine order. G ordered the guinea fowl liver pate and duck with mushroom sauce.
I was really excited while we waited for our food ... and ate bread...
The bread was really nice with a very flavourful butter. It was so delicious that it was hard not to keep eating it, knowing what awaited us....
Then came the tart and pate...
The tart was magnificent. Honestly, it was probably one of the most enjoyable things I have eaten in a long time, and I am really 100% confident that I will be able to recreate this at home. The tart was a puff pastry crust that was covered in cheese and then toped with tomatoes. It was amazing, and I ate every bite!
G's pate was presented very nicely.
There was a little mason jar of liver, a shot glass of jelly, bread, and the slices of raw onion. It was so beautiful! G said it was absolutely delicious!
Then came the mains. And they were not small by any stretch of the imagination!
G's duck was beautiful! Look at all those amazing mushrooms!!! The meat was tender, the sauce was remarkable. It was really spectacular.
We all gasped at the HEAPING soup bowl of poutine!!!
Look at that amazing bowl of poutine. You can't tell how deep this was, but trust me, it was more than three of us could eat. I was disappointed with the poutine, though. Perhaps it was because I had read so many reviews that said that the poutine was the best the writer had ever eaten. For me, it was overwhelmingly too salty. Unbelievably salty. I like it when the cheese doesn't melt, but apparently I am in the minority on that, as both P and G commented on how it wasn't great without the melty cheese. Oh well, you win some and lose some.
And I did win with my main course...
AMAZING! It was the most ginormous lamb shank ever, sitting on top of a bed of lentils, with this creme fraiche sauce and tomato relish. The lamb was probably the richest piece of meat I have ever eaten, and I couldn't eat anywhere close to the whole thing.
Sadly, there was no room for dessert, so after some chitchatting, we headed back to the hotel. Very full. It was a great evening, though. The restaurant was lovely, the food was mostly great, and we got to spend time with our friends!