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Jun 4, 2007 08:21 AM

Pied de Cochon summer menu

Went to Pied de Cochon on the weekend with five friends, to check out their new summer seafood menu. Wow.

We started with the foie gras poutine and a new menu item: monkfish liver. There were some poutine skeptics in our group, but I've never seen a dish so rich disappear so fast. It was so good, we got another order for "dessert" later. And the monkfish liver? What a discovery! An internet search reveals that it's common in Japanese cuisine, but none of us had heard of it before. It's creamy, rich, with a delicate texture almost like foie gras, but with more bite. Picard serves it with chunks of bacon (of course). I'd go back just for that.

We continued with a plate of ultra-fresh oysters -- so good, none of us touched the condiments provided -- and moved on to a double-decker seafood platter. This is the latest thing at PDC: huge platters of shellfish, oysters, clams, sea urchins, etc. Given everything else we'd had, our double-decker (plateau des plateaux - $140) was enough for us, but just barely. I would say it's normally more appropriate for four. I saw one table of four having a triple-decker, though (le grand bleu - $260), so I guess appetites vary. Everything on the platter was spectacular. The clams, scallops, oysters, etc. all tasted like the sea. Some were garnished with little melon balls, others with aspic, others with a bit of caviar, and still others were pretty much naked. All were heavenly. The piece de résistance was the softshell crab tempura. I only wish there had been two to share among six.

Finally, dessert. I can only speak about the two that I tried. The pudding chomeur was my only disappointment of the night -- way too sweet, enough to make one pre-diabetic. The chocolate pot de crème is what I will order next time: bittersweet, smooth and ultra-rich.

I can't wait to go again.

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  1. We were there a couple nights before. I found the poutine a little too far beyond what God intended, but completely agree on the oysters, which were fresh and tasty as a gulp of sea air. The special that evening was tuna maki rolled with foie gras and once again, the pairing was not entirely successful. A bison rib, on the other hand, was as large as a small child's arm and tender and full of sweet meaty flavour. Another special that night was local fresh asparagus with parmasean shavings and aioli. Wonderful. Wine list is a bit pricey. (nothing below $50).

    20 Replies
    1. re: Tout Garni

      Am I the only longterm Montréal foodie who thnks a wine list at a Plateau restaurant with nothing under $50 is utterly outrageous?

      1. re: lagatta

        No you aren't, but this isn't a neighbourhood restaurant, anymore. It's a tourist destination.

        1. re: lagatta

          I can't help but think the most appropriate accompaniment for a PDC meal is a cold cold beer

          1. re: lagatta

            This has become a major issue for us lately, not only on the Plateau but seemingly all over town. We recently ordered a bottle from Spain that was $60(so blah I can't even remember what it was). My husband saw it at SAQ a few weeks later for $30. Absolutely criminal. We are also finding several servers in restos are pushing the expensive stuff a little too hard---makes for a less enjoyable experience.

            1. re: foodismyfriend

              "We recently ordered a bottle from Spain that was $60 (so blah I can't even remember what it was). My husband saw it at SAQ a few weeks later for $30. Absolutely criminal."

              If criminal, it's a mass crime. It's not that I don't sympathize but the 100% markup is pretty much standard practice in Montreal, and there are plenty of places that charge even more. L'Express's prices are often less than double. And there's the place that has a flat fee markup (can't recall the name but it's in the space formerly occupied by Savannah) and reportedly lacklustre food. Can't think of any others, now that Jongleux Café is defunct. It's obviously one of the factors driving the BYO trend. (Speaking of which, walking up St-Denis the other day, I noticed that Agapes, the resto where Jongleux Café and then Chorus used to be, is now a BYO.)

              Agree wholeheartedly about the upselling. To some extent it depends on the luck of the waitron draw, but Au Pied de Cochon and Le Club Chasse et Pêche can be really egregious in that respect.

              1. re: carswell

                That place on St-Laurent is 55°.

                Walking on St-Zotique, I saw a sign in front of Le Jurançon that advertised a $3 mark-up on whine for lunch Tuesday to Friday.

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  FWIW, 55° is given a fairly positive if cookie-cutter review in today's issue of Voir:

                  1. re: carswell

                    That's a strange review. After reading, i felt like I learned next to nothing about the place. I got no strong impression. Is it good? Is it great? Is it mediocre? Seems like the wine markup is the big selling point.

                2. re: carswell

                  Typically retail is 2x wholesale and restaurants are 4x or more wholesale. This is a gross generalization, but on average it works out to about these figures. So seeing wine in a restaurant that is twice the retail price is expected.

                  1. re: lil mikey

                    Generalizing here too, but there's effectively no wholesale in Quebec. The base price the restaurant pays is set by the SAQ and is slightly above the SAQ's retail price for the same wine.

                    1. re: carswell

                      Which is utterly nuts, in terms of developing a hospitality industry.

                      I agree, for the type of restaurant L'Express is very reasonable in its markups.

                      1. re: lagatta

                        "Which is utterly nuts, in terms of developing a hospitality industry."

                        How so? The local hospitality industry is booming. If anything will dampen it, it'll be the strong dollar and high gas prices, not wine markups.

                        It's unfortunate that our much-vaunted Europeanness doesn't extend to adopting French, Italian, Iberian or Greek attitudes to wine -- there are next to no decent wines under $10, which means most people don't serve wine with everyday meals -- but that's not about to change. On the other hand, try finding a store in, say, Lille, Bari, Zaragoza or Thessoloniki that stocks a range of, say, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, Chianti Classicos, Jura whites, Douro reds, California Zinfandels and Argentinean Torrontes and maybe you'll see the other side of the coin.

                        1. re: carswell

                          I came here from Europe and though I can't say here for Thessaloniki, every French, Spanish, German, Austrian or Czech supermarket has better choice of international wines (including wines from New Zealand, Greece, Chile, Argentina, South Africa etc.) then SAQ Sélection. And any given wine cellar has about 5 or 6 times more wines from Chile or South Africa, then you can find in SAQ. Let alone all the good wines from, say, Crete, Hungary or Georgia, which are virtually impossible to find here.
                          Even SAQ choice of wines from Australia or Spain, which appears abundant, is actually quite limited. For example in a decent European wine cellar, one can find at least two shelves dedicated to red wines from Rioja region, not just two random bottles, as it is there.
                          Choice of French, Italian and Californian wines is about the same in an average Europe wine store and in SAQ, but that's virtually it.
                          And, the main difference, in EU, if you can't find the wine you need in your local wine store, you just call another one. Every single one has it's own selection, and choices are that living in a big city (1 million +) you will find whatever wine you want. And here, if it's not in SAQ, well, you have to fly for it to Europe or the US.

                          To cut it short, I feel deeply offended not just by local wine prices (about 2-3 times more expensive then in EU), but even more so by poor choice of wines.
                          I think the system should be privatized and unregulated ASAP.

                          1. re: ostap

                            Welcome to Canada!; the land of the taxed!

                            BTW BC is definitely more expensive than here, even BC wines!
                            (They do however have wine outlets with different (but even more expensive) choices)

                            1. re: ScoobySnacks20

                              But not 2 times more expensive, I hope? I was going to visit BC soon, but if they sell wines two times more expensive then here, I wouldn't support their tourist industry.

                            2. re: ostap

                              Ostap, you can deregulate and privatize the system all you want, but you won't get lower wine prices until the provincial government reduces taxes on alcoholic beverages. In Ontario, where I live, just over 50% of the price of a bottle of wine purchased at the LCBO (equlvalent to SAQ) is tax (mostly provincial, but also federal excise duty and GST). In Quebec, provincial taxes are even higher, which is why the average mid-price bottle of wine is usually a couple of bucks more expensive at the SAQ than at the LCBO.

                              Governments find "sin taxes" on booze and cigarettes to be an easy way of raising revenue. Most voters seem to prefer that to paying higher income taxes. Surprise!

                              1. re: estragon

                                Most voters prefer that AND paying higher income taxes. But you are correct of course.

                                1. re: estragon

                                  A new topic was split from this thread to the Wine board, if you'd like to follow up further over there:

                              2. re: carswell

                                I agree with you wholeheartedly on this carswell. Hubby is French, and while we lament the cost of wine at the SAQ (and even more so in restaurants), we are quick to say that if our mark-up is helping to pay for the incredible choice of imports, then perhaps it is a necessary evil.

                            3. re: carswell

                              Thank you for clarifying. I'm a visitor to Montreal, and I appreciate your knowledge. I had no idea it worked that way.

                              My brother-in-law is the top salesman at one of the largest liquor and wine distributors in the US. That's where I got the 2x and 4x figures. But you inspired me to do some research on my own, and here's what I found.

                              I had a nice Barbera the other night at Toque. It was $125 per bottle. I can find it online for $32 (before shipping from Italy), and SAQ has it for $40 retail. I suspect that the distributor that's selling it in Italy for $32 got it out of the winery for $20.

                              Again, grossly generalizing, SAQ probably gets it for $20, maybe $25 after shipping, and sells it retail for $40. Maybe it sold it to the restaurant for $42.

                              The restaurant then marks it up to $125, roughly 4x the wholesale cost of $32. But because of SAQ, there is an additional cost in there. The restaurant has to pay $42 instead of $32. So their markup is only 3x their cost instead of the 4x it would be without SAQ. The remaining money goes to SAQ.

                              So the loser here is the restaurant. They have to pay an additional layer of cost for SAQ, but they don't pass it along. This means they have to charge more for the food in order to make their business work. I guess that makes all of us the losers.

                              I like BYO places because I can enjoy a vastly better bottle of wine for the same price. But I don't feel ripped off when I'm charged a lot (within reason) for a great wine. The restaurant has to figure out how to pay for stuff like rent and electricity. I'm just glad they've taken the time to find a good wine and serve it with good food. And if it's too much, I don't order it.

                  2. What is duck ina can and is it too much for one person?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: mwise

                      Ingredients: 3.5 oz foie gras scallop seared and stuffed under the skin of 1/2 duck breast; 2/3 cup buttered cabbage with lardons; 1 head roasted garlic; 1 sprig thyme; and 5 teaspoons glace de viande with balsamic vinegar. Packed in a can (or mason jar at home) and sealed. Boiled in the can for nearly half an hour, opened at the table and ceremoniously dumped on a slice of fried toast topped with creamy celery root purée. Not for those who eat like birds.

                      1. re: mwise

                        Many of the mains at PDC are enough for two. Alternatively, you can take the leftovers home and have them for lunch...

                      2. Thank you for the info on PDC! We are planning to visit Montreal this August and can't wait to dine there.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: momdgp

                          Yay we just got a reservation at the bar Sat. at 10 pm! Mr. OC is hell-bent on Duck in a Can and I'll take a plate of those little deep fried foie gras balls and some poutine, please!

                          1. re: momdgp

                            If you're planning to go on a weekend, be sure to reserve at least two weeks in advance. We had trouble getting a table -- had to wait for a cancellation.

                            1. re: estragon

                              I know they sell the confit for home cooking, is the duck in the can available that way also?, (not as an excuse to reserve 3 weeks in advance and enjoy the unique experience!)

                          2. I would love to know more about the food and other peoples' experience with the menu - anybody? It seems like this is the title of the topic...

                            1. A new thread has been created regarding the price of wine and the mark-up. Please see it here, on the Wine board: