Montreal Restaurants with the most BUZZ: Au Pied De Cochon!

Event: Dinner at Restaurant Au pied de Cochon , 536 East Duluth
Montréal
, QC H2L 1A9
(514) 281-1114
http://www.restaurantaupieddecochon.ca

Type of cuisine: Rework of some Quebec’s classics + some very unique fares proper to APDC

Food rating: Exceptional (10), Excellent (9), Very good (8), Good (7), just Ok (6)

(English review will follow) – Des milliers de restos et plusieurs années après leur ouverture, APDC continue à faire cavalier seul: unique avec sa cuisine rustique réiventée, inspirée des traditions locales, l’endroit n’a pas perdu de son lustre si je le compare à ma dernière visite ici,  il y’a plus de deux ans. Mon repas de ce 28/11/2012 fut composé d’une excellente vichyssoise aux oursins, excitant en bouche. Suivi d’un maki d’anguille exécuté tel qu’il se doit (bonne qualité de la feuille d’algue, le riz balancant parfaitement entre fermeté et moelleux requis, l’anguille de bonne qualité). Pour enfin conclure sur un péché gourmand, tellement riche en gout qu’il vous faut presque un appétit d’ogre pour parvenir à le finir: le pied de cochon fourré au foie gras, succulent comme ce fut l cas la dernière fois que je l’avais essayé ici, quoique moins excitant que sa version précécédente surtout à cause du manque de ‘punch’ acide dont bénéficiait celui de mon repas du  15 Decembre 2009.    

UPDATE Dinner @ APDC on 28/11/2012 18:30 –  I can’t believe I haven’t gone back  for that long. But I have been so disappointed by the latest new eateries in town that I find consolation in the old time favourites. APDC is Montreal’s most celebrated restaurant and foodies from all around the world flock here after all the rage generated by Anthony Bourdain’s no reservation show on APDC, naturally leading to leagues of anti and pro APDC foodies, Rfaol! Rule of thumb: go to a restaurant because it is your style of food, do not go because someone raved about it! And between you and me: you seek for gourmet suggestions from the greatest ones (JacquesMaximin, Eric Briffard, Alain Ducasse, Joel Robuchon )…not from Tony B,Rfaol! Although a pleasant gentleman and certainly very interesting character, I certainly have no plan to rely on Tony to know where I shall go to eat. With that said, I think that for food as characteristic to its land as the one found at APDC, you should, before opting to travel all the way to Montreal, ensure that this is food that caters to your taste. I am insisting on this because I know many ppl who travel to Montreal and expect surreal things from Apdc whereas they do not enjoy rustic rich French food in the first place. Some ordering APDC’s foie gras poutine and they do not even like poutines. Others go there with the idea of finding some type of upscale food. Hey, c’mon folks…it is APDC’s take on RUSTIC RICH cuisine.

On this evening, I picked 2 items from the daily menu as well as their signature pig trotter au foie gras that was already reviewed on my last meal here (see below).

The 1st item off the daily menu was a Vichyssoise  (I ate it all way before thinking about picturing it, lol) mixed with sea urchin, one of the merely examples that reminds  of  why APDC appeals to many: there is always, somewhere on its menu, little creative gems that few in town dare trying because not many can turn them into the exciting creations that can sometimes comes from this kitchen. A triumph of texture and moutful bliss 8/10

Another item from their daily menu I picked was a maki of eel. It would be absurd to compare Adpc’s version to what a sushiya would do, apdc is not a sushi place, but here again Apdc shows the little fun and out of the ordinary things (to Montreal’s bistrt standards) that few other bistrots manage to achieve this well in town. Or when they do, it is not as interesting as at Apdc. It would be foolish  to compare it to sushis at sushi places, you certainly are not gojng to start evaluating the quality of the meshi, the number of rice grains here, rfaol,  but it  was certainly  tasty and refreshing to be found on a bistrot table in Yul. 6/10

Ended witthe pig trotter stuffed with foie gras, almost as deliciously rich as I remembered it from last time, only the dazzling tang of acidity of the last version was more subtle this time, making it a bit less memorable. Still, good and in its genre, a successful delicious rustic creation A 7/10

I like APDC because all that counts for me is how far a meal can be delicious. Yup, I know…people say that rich food is alwaysdelicious and things like that, but   you have to make it happen. And this is where theory and practice do clash. Listen, if you have that idea of spectacular food being what Ferran Adria was delivering, do not go to Apdc. If you will start complaining about greasy food, do not! Rustic rich delicious food takes butter, it takes fat.  Point blank. In its genre (a take on rustic rich cuisine), apdc is a treat. It is a well oiled eatery with classy service, fun ambience. Their wine choices are among the most exciting in town,  especially the little gems that are off the wine menu After all these years, thousands of restaurants later, it remains Montreal most unique and delicious table.

Overall rating of this meal of Nov 28th 2012: As always, divine delicious rich and rustic  food , although..hey mon petit cochon….you were a tad more exciting at the time of Chef Hughe Dufour (now in the US).   Now the scores: scoring individual dishes, I have no problem with that, even in the case of ADPC. I did it, actually and found it as fair as I could go. But  assigning an overall score to this meal, or even the previous meal at APDC would be a non sense. To what overall food rating … would that overall food rating at APDC be compared to? It’s just not, as an overall,  a dining experience you can compare to something else.You can’t compare APDC to anything else since it has its very own style of re-visiting classic québécois cuisine. It is unique even on its own land, so no comparison to make with what is done anywhere else. After all these years, APDC remains a huge personal favourite for  festive rustic rich food and I could assign it a 10/10, a 20/10, a 30/10 overall food rating…it just won’t mean anything and will serve nothing! So does it worth travelling all the way to Montreal to eat at APDC because it is unique? In my view, No. But if you happen to be in Montreal, and you are fond of rustic rich food, Yes, put APDC at the top of the list!

THE FOLLOWING IS THE REVIEW OF MY DINNER THERE ON  Tuesday December 15th 2009, 21:30PM

APDC!
As anyone knows by now, it is the Montreal restaurant with the most buzz. Zillions of restaurants would drool over the never-ending legendary popularity of APDC. Some few hate it, a LOT love it! 
Naturally, knowing my preferrence for classic fine french fares, most of my friends think I do sn0b APDC. Most actually never even mind asking, anticipating horrific responses from my part!
And some few, anticipating my rejection of APDC, plays the “anticipated accomodation” with statements like “It is way overhyped, way over this, way over that…”. 
Although it is a fact that I am more into fine dining classic French fares, and that APDC is indeed not a restaurant that I dream about at night,  I would like to seize this opportunity and set couple of records straight:
-To those who complain about APDC being overhyped, keep in mind that when you are fond of something, you will sound naturally overhyped. So, APDC appears overhyped just because a lot of people are madly in love with APDC. Or…is it overhyped to some, just because APDC doesn’t serve food that looks like at any other classic restaurant? If that is the case, recall that APDC was not meant to serve the classic white-glove presented dishes (everyone knows that this is wild and rustic food)!
-Some said that all of this hype has started because of Anthony Bourdain’s No reservations reportage about APDC. C’mon…Bourdain or Not…I do not know anyone enoughly stupid to fall in love with a restaurant just because someone else did like it. Bourdain helped with the visibility of APDC, but had APDC not pleased the tastebuds of the most, there would have been no buzz at all!
-Now, APDC … I cannot compare it to any other restaurant since it’s unique, on it’s own genre. It’s also a restaurant that I do admire a lot for it’s originality, daring approach to gastronomy and most importantly, for the enjoyment it is bringing to the most.

HOW IT ALL STARTED!
My love story with APDC  started years  back, by a hot summer evening, while sipping an enjoyable martini on a terrace of the Vieux Port with a bunch of friends. The name popped out from the mouth of one of the attendees. I had heard about it before, but this time it was making it’s way deep into my conscience: out of the 9 folks, 6 were raving about it as if it was the biggest thang of all times, with .. I am not kidding….multimedia presentations of their favourite restaurant live from their handheld devices. At some point, I thought it was fixed up! Then things went fast: a first dinner there at the invitation of one of the 6 devoted fans + an another one with his best friends (like a clan of APDC fans ). Those two first dinners did unfortunately not impressed me at all: the famous “duck in a can” I had on 1st dinner has not done the trick for me. Same for the baked apple + other items I preffered erasing from my souvenirs on the subsequent dinner there.

Then time passed. And I found myself playing the tape about one side of those 2 dinners that I kinda neglected a bit: the amazing collective happyness all patrons seemed to be bathed in. I have rarely seen that in a restaurant. On both dinners, it was packed…jam packed…of people who looked so happy to be there. So blessed to enjoy their food. There had to be something that I was missing! Then I kept asking myself “in the end, shouldn’t food be just that: putting a huge sunshine of happyness of people’s heart!”. So, I opted for a new approach: the curiosity level (strange hein? Usually you are curious then you try. BUT this time, it was the other way around: I tried it already, thought I would forget about it forever, and here I am offering a new eye on it). I started reading a lot about APDC, the philisophy of it’s Chef Martin Picard, the reasons behind the impressive success and buzz around this fairytale. In th end, I found myself  embracing the cult (lol): this food is making a lot of people happy and that is what counts the most! So, I decided to go to APDC for a 3rd time with a totally new angle, this time: just go and enjoy! Of course, it won’t stop me from describing things the way they are (I can’t do otherwise: if the fries are burnt, why would I say that they aren’t? If the meat is bland, well I will have to describe it as is: bland!) — but there was a new attitude this time: heading there with a relaxed approach. A festive one!

ok, ok the damn FOOD..!
POUTINE OF FOIE GRAS
– I started with the poutine of foie (yeah, no appetizer because I knew that I had to make it for my two heavyweight choices of this dinner: the poutine of foie + the pig’s foot with foie!). Although they are famous for their poutine of foie, I never thought about ordering it on the first two visits. This time I made that choice. After years in Quebec, needless to stress that poutines I devoured! For years, I can’t count anymore the numerous times I had enjoyed poutines at my QC’s buddies grand parents homes, I can’t anymore count the numerous spots that I have eaten at as soon as they would be known for their poutine by locals, I can’t anymore count the numerous times I have spent perfectionning that poutine gravy, fries consistency or texture, it’s taste (with all kind of oil and all sorts of techniques –from the most traditional to the most modern ones — and ingredients). The ONLY thing I never tried was just that: foie with poutine. My dish of poutine had a nicely seared hunk of duck liver (that fully earthy flavored foie was delicious in taste with perfect smooth inside consistency) sitting atop the poutine. The poutine’s fries were flawless. Cheese curds were perfectly fresh, enjoyably squeaky springy and delicious +  the gravy was to die for (the touch of the foie flavor in that already delish rich unctuous gravy was pure blast to my tastebuds)! SUCCULENT!    8/10

What a pig am I! Rfaol! I courageously went for the second heavyweight of the evening:

PIG’S TROTTER WITH FOIE GRAS – This braised then breaded pork’s trotter had the expected ideal tenderness and oozed of  addictive enjoyable fatty flavors that were shinning through the rest of the delicious meat. On it’s side, a delicious earthy creamy rich foie gras sauce with tasty fresh sauteed mushrooms, nicely sauteed fiddleheads (crunchy and tasty) topped by an excellent chunk of perfectly seared (awesome browny texture on the outside, nice meaty center on the inside) duck liver that kept an impeccable earthy flavorful taste. The extra lemon acidity note found in that dish complemented very well the overall, adding punch to an alredy savourish meal. Inspired, rich and excitingly enjoyable!  8.5/10

Chosen wine:
A Beaujolais: the 2007 Brouilly La Croix des Rameaux. Still a young wine (I have 2 bottles at home, and I will open them in between 6-8 yrs from now), and yet a solid choice:  a red wine without barely any flaw -> beautiful intense ruby red color, well balanced and enjoyable fruity and sublty spicy nose. Even the finish is well balanced: not a long, nor a short finish but a very enjoyable one. Solid elegant wine and one great value imho.

I wish I could devour some of the desserts, but humm..me belly full! I was also looking forward to devour one of their signature dish, la plogue à champlain, but it is now off the menu (the wait staff explained that it would now be served at their sugar shack. Makes sense to serve such sweet dish at a sugar shack.

amazing service!
I am amazed by the professionalism (of their entire staff) on this dinner: I recall a lot of places full of sucess, with staff that just could not keep up with the buzz (heads getting bigger and bigger, puffed by success), but at APDC this is absolutely not the case -> despite legions of admirers (on our way out, close to midnight, it was as festive and busy as ever!), they keep their cool, stand very professional and attentive: while waiting in line to be seated, the Maitre D’ recognized a of regulars that was behind us. I gently proposed that they are seated before us (a trap!), but the Maitre D’ never fell into the trap: she courteously sat us first. Small detail you might think, but you will be surprised by the numerous times I saw this trap closing on many staff at big restaurants. Such tact is admirable from the Maitre D’, and was in line with the impeccable service we received from the few  waiters who came at our table: courteous, helpful, attentive and all that in a casual cool atmosphere. Bravo!  

THE OVEN OF decadent sins!
The world already know about APDC. The web is full of pictures of this temple of savourish food, but how come barely anyone thought about an hommage to their magical wood-burning oven (as most already know, it used to be a pizzeria, and nowadays that oven is behind most of the savourish food we are all raving about):  

 

a decor for feast!
I have always been a fan of the laid back all wooden narrow rustic decor of APDC: proximity of chairs and tables, mirrors on the wall, all ingredients for cooling down and enjoying a festive meal

 

And do you know that many places, as busy close to midnight:

Packed!!

THEY LOVE THEIR MAN!
They have a big portrait of Chef  Martin Picard in the Gents room.

And a techno touch amidst the rustic decor, still in the Gents room -> 

An LCD  flat monitor displaying the Wild Chef’s TV show. Why not? I rather see the face of someone who is making people’s stomach happy than the picture of mad cows like North Korean’s Kim Jong il who makes my stomach vomit!

Bottom line: I have the highest respect for Martin Picard. The guy could have easily went with a safe fancy type of high end cuisine. Instead, he rethought the matrix and came out with an amazing rework with additional creative add-ons of some of  the French Canadian classic fares and his own creations. Food that is that heavenly deliciously tasty: ANYTIME! And it’s rebellious, different, creative, daring, indigenous and you name them…just what I like!

SEE the gallery of this dinner’s pictures on my Google’s Picasa online web album:
http://picasaweb.google.com/comorosislands/AUPIEDDECOCHONRESTAURANTMONTREAL#

Check all my Mtl’s restaurant quick reviews on YELP 

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