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May 25, 2009 01:03 PM

APDC Au Pied Du Cochon, my review

I finally went to Au Pied Du Cochon yesterday as a b-day treat. I've had Martin's Picard book since last X-mas and I was eager to try some of the dishes.

It was quite busy (Sunday evening) and good thing we (My GF and I) had a reservation because a lot of people were turned away. At 10pm when we left there was still a line-up. They had us waiting at the bar with a drink, so that was ok. For how busy it was, they didn’t rush us at all. They let us take our time. Service was great, attentive, genuinely interested (I made a small comment about the pork cartilage croquette and they were really listening).

We had acras de morue as apéro, they were very hot, slightly spicy with home made mayo. We shared an appetizer: fiddleheads on a cheesy potato cake with ham and a sunny side up egg with some parmesan shavings. This was great, I could eat this as breakfast.

Mains: GF had Plogue de champlain (buckwheat pancake with potatoes, bacon, foie gras, cheese and maple syrup), I had the Pied de cochon that came on mash made with cream, roasted garlic and cheese, with a creamy mustard sauce. The Plogue was nice but overly sweet, after trying 2 bites I was already bored. Same problem with my dish, the initial flavors were interesting but I quickly lost interest: it was too rich, too fat, too overpowering. There was nothing wrong with it, but I think it is not my style of cooking.
I think I am more Mediterranean influenced. A heavy or fat piece of meat needs to contrast with something light, something that breaks down the fat (lemon, vinegar, greens, herbs, etc).
Anyways, there was also a croquette of something that I couldn’t quite place (I thought it was headcheese). But that turned out to be pork cartilage. Again, very fat, creamy texture not much flavor (and my reason for discussing with the waitress).

For dessert I had churros and custard made from maple syrup for dipping with a café robidoux (coffee with baileys and cognac, actually it came separated as cup of espresso and 2 shots of booze, kind of dissappointing).

The total bill was around $180 (service and taxes included), so I was very happy I had the gift certificate. (We also had a $50 bottle of wine, Primitivo Salento 2005 Conti Zecca, a glass of red chianti and a pint of coup de grisou).

Overall a good experience, well prepared food but a tidbit too expensive. The cholesterol and fat took the whole night to break down and we didn’t sleep well because of it. I still had a heavy stomach the next morning.

So I am very glad I went, but will I go back … maybe, but I will have something lighter … then again it would’ve been a waste to go to APDC and not order their quintessential dishes. Do I recommend the place? Sure. Will I be taking people from out of town? I don’t think so, I’d rather take them to L’Atelier where they serve great Quebecois terroir cuisine, much lighter prepared with the same care and respect for the ingredients. ( I still reminisce about their tartare de canard with brown rice) And I heard it's a BYOB now, so my wallet will be grateful too.

Side note: I am quite an accomplished cook myself (no formal training though). I guess it becomes harder and harder for a restaurant to impress me. Also the price you pay on average in a restaurant makes me think twice e.g. the lobster yesterday was $25 a pound, the fresh lobsters I bought only a week ago were $6.99 for 1 ½ pound and they came from Poissonnerie Antoine, one of APDC suppliers.

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  1. nice review.

    on a side note, I would be really surprised that Poissonnerie Antoine is one of APDC supplier; Picard outsource directly from the suppliers on the coast.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      I certainly don't know, but I'd be shocked if Antoine was a supplier for a high end successful restaurant. Although I like the people who run the place, and had good $6.99/lb lobster there as well, it's a low traffic (very bad for fish) joint. I'm always amazed they're still in business. Contrast to Falero further north that has a constant stream of customers almost guaranteeing their fish is always fresh. Night and day.

      1. re: everyonelovessushi

        I can't complain about Antoines quality. I've never had anything bad from them and absolutely love their house smoked salmon. My problem with Falero is the price and the service. I find them rude, too noisy, not friendly (although upstairs at Delices Falero I've always had outstanding service). So I don't go there unless it's an emergency (and I live on the corner of Bernard).

      2. re: Maximilien

        Check the book, he lists Poissonnerie Antoine as one of his suppliers (with picture). He does get most of his seafood straight from the coast but Antoine delivers whatever he can't get or needs extra.
        Also, my friend told me that years ago she saw Martin Picard buying loads of pork at 7am in PA across the street. Maybe at the time he didn't have his personal pork supplier.

      3. I find it hard to believe that people in this city complain about the price of APDC...lets be realistic dinner for 2 at a top end restaurant epically one that uses foie the way Martin does and given the overall size of his plates could be allot more expensive than $180

        25 Replies
        1. re: est1986

          If you eat and drink slightly less (ie - one app each, one main, split dessert if you can manage it - we never can) and a few glasses of wine or beer, it's well under $100 for two, which is more than reasonable.

          1. re: est1986

            I don't read estilker as complaining about high prices but rather middling QPR or, to put it another way, bang for the buck.

            Since the portions are so large and the food so rich, patrons are often faced with an unpleasant choice: either overindulging or not cleaning their plates, i.e. wasting food. These patrons could well argue that APDC is overpriced, since prices could be lower if portions were smaller.

            1. re: carswell

              Well, he is complaining about the price of the lobster...but I think mainly he was disappointed in the style of the food, which is another thing entirely...

              1. re: cherylmtl

                «Well, he is complaining about the price of the lobster...»

                Yeahbut while estilker mentions the price of lobster at APDC, it's as an example. It's pretty clear he's referring there to the priciness of restaurant meals in general as opposed to home-cooked meals.

                1. re: carswell

                  Carswell is right, I didn't find APDC too expensive. I paid a fair price for well prepared food and excellent service. If I discount the booze ($50 botttle of wine, $6 for a pint of coup de grisou, $8 glass of chianti and I guess $6 as well for the shots of baileys and cognac with the cafe robidoux, 15% tip) our meal was $100 (shared apero, appetizer, 2 mains and dessert).

                  But if you're somewhat of a cook and you can get your hands on quality ingredients (not that difficult in this town) you can make a dinner comparable to the quality of a high end restaurant at a fraction of the price. The lobster is a great example because cooking a lobster is probably one of the easiest things to do, so the real value is in the freshness/quality of the ingredient and the things you add (a special sauce). Hence I didn't order the lobster. The same logic applies to booze: we all know we're paying double the price at a restaurant. The only added value comes from special private import, matching wines with food, the sommelier.

                  The point I am trying to make is that as a foodie/cook I find it more and more difficult to spend a lot of money on eating out because you know you can do similar things at half the price. And if I do spend that money, I would like everything to be spot on. Nobody cares about an overcooked hamburger at $10, but almost $200 and not entirely satisfied, well that's frustrating.

                  1. re: estilker

                    Makes sense. When paying that kind of money for dinner, it's nice to have something that I can't (or won't) make at home.
                    And aside from their seafood platters, I find much of APDC's food more suited to winter dining (at least IMHO) because it tends to be heavier. Then again, I can eat foie gras poutine pretty much any time of year...

                    1. re: cherylmtl

                      cheryl, for me stuff at APDC is definitely food i would never make at home. I mean i have a husband that i love and would not like to see develop a heart condition, not to mention that i would like to take care of my own health too, there is no way i would cook with as much fat as they do. Once every blue moon, it's nice to have a high fat treat, but it is definitely the type of food i refuse to cook at home.

                    2. re: estilker

                      "The lobster is a great example because cooking a lobster is probably one of the easiest things to do"

                      And so many restaurants get it wrong, either undercooking it, or cooking it to tennis ball texture.

                      As a pretty good cook myself, I so often leave a restaurant thinking I could have done much better myself, and at a much lower cost. I would rather spend the money on premium ingredients and a nice bottle of Champagne.

                      1. re: souschef

                        I hear you ... me too I like to splurge on a bottle of Bolly, oysters, etc. Hardcore decadence! But I do that at home and the money saved goes to my insane hydro bill in winter :-)

                  2. re: cherylmtl

                    I think it's good that he said it may simply not be his type of food - better than complaining outright.

                    The real question I have is: if you have the cookbook, how could you not know what you were in for?

                    1. re: Shattered

                      When I first had the Plogue, it seemed to me a neat trick, an improbable balance of sweet and savory. Recently however, I ordered it and it seemed to me as estilker described it: one dimensional and excessively sweet.

                      Tastes vary. I can take or leave the fried cartilage/collagen cakes, while they are my wife's idea of heaven.

                      Also I'm in the same boat as estilker. I fancy myself a pretty good cook and I find myself wanting to eat out only if the restaurant offers what I am unwilling or unable to make myself.

                      1. re: Shattered

                        To my defence: the pig feet recipe in the cookbook is not the same as in the restaurant (in the book it is served with carrots, boiled potatoes and a maple sauce), and that's a good thing because a restaurant needs to mix things up. Also I had never tasted pig feet before. I could have ordered the steak & frites, but I could order that in any restaurant. As for the plogue: it is difficult to tell if something is going to be too sweet or not. I always put brown sugar on my bacon-omelet sandwich but I want that balance between sweet and salty.

                        1. re: estilker

                          It's true you never know how things will taste, but it seems one of your main complaints, aside from one-dimensional taste, is the heaviness of the food.

                          That's the part that seems obvious from the cookbook, or even looking at the menu online (or my verbal descriptions -every out-of-town guest I've proposed it to has shot it down). I've never been but I still know what it's about -which is why I haven't. I rarely feel like eating til it hurts (watching Bourdain suffer was good enough).

                          Like I said, though, at least you don't 'blame' them for having this rich style. I also agree that 'it better be something I can't do at home reasonably cheap and easily', is also my rule of thumb for dining out (why I usually go for Asian or institutions like Schwartz's or Romados).

                          1. re: Shattered

                            I've only been to APdC twice, but am convinced the best way to do it is to go with a fairly large group (6 would be about right) and eat family-style, ordering about half what you might if you were ordering the "conventional" way. (So, for a party of six: 3 apps, 3 or 4 mains, 2 or 3 desserts.)

                            Either that, or have no plans for afterwards so that it's not too inconvenient to haul the leftovers home. But this also requires choosing items that travel well.

                            After reading most of the book, and particularly the comic book in the front of the French edition, I'm pretty sure I "get it", but I still think most of the portions are just too huge.

                            1. re: Mr F

                              That's a great suggestion. Too bad everyone I know is a wuss.

                              1. re: Shattered

                                If you mean they're wusses in the sense that they're too shy to break the traditional one diner/one plate mould, or too shy to ask for a doggy bag, rest assured that there's really no need to be shy about it. This is definitely not a place where you'll get any grief or dirty looks for sharing, and they're fully equipped to pack leftovers to go.

                                If it's that they're squeamish about some foods, well... even if you steer clear of foie gras and pigs' feet, there's still plenty to enjoy.

                                I can't say it's my all time top restaurant, but I'm very glad I've experienced it a couple of times.

                                1. re: Mr F

                                  Wusses as in more and more of them don't even touch meat, or some are fish-only, or they feel the need to diet at the tender age of 30-35...

                                  Yeah, I know there's options for them, but why would they go at all when they have their fave veggie restos?

                                  1. re: Mr F

                                    Agreed - this is one place where you can truly feel comfortable. The staff is super friendly, and they've boxed up more than one pile of leftovers for me. They even let me have the glass jar containing the remains of my dessert one evening!

                                  2. re: Shattered

                                    I'm always up for APdC with 1 week's notice!

                                    1. re: marblebag

                                      I will take you up on that! ... when there isn't a street fair on the Main, mind you... but soon.

                                  3. re: Mr F

                                    Bigfellow, I think this is a hint for an upcoming chowdown!

                                    1. re: hungryann

                                      I don't think that we are doing them anymore.

                                        1. re: mainsqueeze

                                          Too much hassle and disention for me to organize anymore.

                                          1. re: bigfellow

                                            I guess that's how it usually is with big groups. Too bad.

                      2. It seems like we went on the same night! I was in MTL just for the weekend and based on the foodie buzz I went alone without a reservation at around 6:00 pm. There was just a little hemming and hawing from the maitre d' ("oh, one? well, maybe... dunno... ok - do you mind the bar?)

                        I had the same fiddlehead/potato pancake cake appetiser. There were little chunks of bacony goodness in the cheesy potato, as well as some toasted pecans hither and yon - and I love runny egg yolk, so it was a home run for me. I ordered the "happy pork chop"as the main - a Fred-Flintstonesque affair. It was good, but it made me wish I'd ordered another starter instead - perhaps the beet and goat cheese salad. There was also a hake special that evening, but I figured I should stick with pork on the first go-round.

                        I just had a beer; my total bill was just under $50CAD, which I don't consider too bad for a "special" dinner.

                        Overall - I'll be back. I need to try those fries done in duck fat, as well as the deep-fried foie gras nuggets I kept seeing leaving the kitchen. Oh, and all visible members of the staff are uniformly young, upbeat, and very attractive - always a plus.

                        1. I was at Au Pied Du Cochon 2 night ago. There is a huge discrepancy between the prices listed on the website, and the actual menu prices charged, ex.

                          Foie Gras Hamburger price on website is $23 - actual is $40
                          Foie Gras Duo price on website is $35 - actual is $51

                          As well, for items such as Foie Gras Hamburger, the recipe seems to be different from what's printed in their book; in the book the hamburger is made of fois gras, whereas in the restaurant it's made of fois gras and hamburger.

                          Just a couple small complaints. Overall, it was a fun experience. I went in with the intention to order 2 appetizers, and share a main. But gluttony got the best of me and I wanted my own main! I could hardly move after dinner. Luckily I had a 30 min walk to Place des Arts.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: JedZ

                            "As well, for items such as Foie Gras Hamburger, the recipe seems to be different from what's printed in their book; in the book the hamburger is made of fois gras, whereas in the restaurant it's made of fois gras and hamburger."

                            Beurk. The burger certainly was just foie gras once upon a time. Is it now a meat patty topped with some seared foie? Please tell me the two aren't ground up together.

                            1. re: Mr F

                              It's fois gras in the center of ground steak. 250 grams total. They are not ground up together...

                              1. re: JedZ

                                They finally just updated the site for seafood season. The new prices are also there which leads me to a question. Why are the foie gras hamburger and duo the only two items to have had such a huge price hike? If it's because of the fact that they now put ground meat in it, I don't see it being worth it. I don't see why they would add the meat in the first place.

                                1. re: Simon Patrice

                                  Very strange indeed, especially when you consider that a full order of poutine au foie gras and a burger now costs four bucks less than the duo. Why order the duo at all then?

                                  1. re: rcianci

                                    RCianci - they still didn't get the prices right; website shows burger as $24 when it's really $40 in restaurant. Strange they would update only the duo price.

                                    PS: Seafood platters looked amazing.
                                    PPS: Just checked the menu en francais - it's more accurate.

                                    1. re: JedZ

                                      Ah! Thanks JedZ. So the foie gras burger is now a kind of "Juicy Lucy" with foie in the middle instead of cheese? I think I'm with Simon Patrice on this one. The duo was overkill to start with. Interesting too, that Picard is using beef now, both in this burger and in his tartare. Does that mean he's found a locally raised (albeit expensive) beef that he trusts?

                          2. Looking for a place to eat last night (Sunday), my wife and I tried to go to L'Iconnu, but it was closed so we decided to chance a walk-in at PDC.

                            We got there at 6:40 and were told we could have seats at the bar, but they needed the seats at 8, which was fine with us.

                            Started off with the cromesquis. They were much larger than we remembered - just a bit too large to pop into the mouth, but that's the only way to eat them. The inside was delicious as usual, but the outside was a very thick, chewy crust, which made it not so great.

                            My wife ordered the "foie gras tout nu" appetizer, and I ordered the duck in a can main. They brought us nice hot empty plates so we could share the meals, but by the time the meals were delivered the plates were stone cold.

                            We did not realize that the foie gras was raw - it was actually cold (and no, it was not a terrine). It was served on toast that was far from hot. A very disappointing dish !

                            I had had the duck in a can before and had enjoyed it, but this time it was disappointing. The piece of duck was chewy, the foie gras was "meh", as was what I think was shredded duck confit.

                            After that we decided to skip dessert. We both were so disappointed that we decided that it was a no-return.

                            Dinner for two, with two glasses of Sancerre, and including the tip was $160+

                            Should have gone to our favourite resto instead.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: souschef

                              were we all there last week? I agree with the originator of this post: I went to APDC with an open mind, but I was just not comfortable with the menu. I am only an occasional meat eater, rarely have foie gras (it's just too rich for me) and am not a pork lover. However, we picked our way around the menu and managed to find plenty to order.

                              Among all our choices, the best, by far, was the oysters. We had a dozen and were tempted to get a second. They were top notch. We sampled the scallops, the tempura zucchini blossoms, the beet and chevre salad, and the cromesquis. We also had the churros, and skipped the booze. (Our waiter looked very disappointed that we didn't knock back coffee with the Baileys and brandy, and we offered it to him.) With two glasses of wine each, the bill was about $160.

                              I would go back and have oysters and steak frites. That's about it. I do praise the service, however, the restaurant is just shy of becoming a total tourist destination. Many flashes were going off around us as people took pictures, and that distracts from the meal.