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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

[Quebec] Le Pied de Cochon

Review Location:
248 Montcalm Street
Gatineau (Haul areal), Quebec

As part of my Victoria day weekend in Ottawa, one of the nights we ventured to Quebec for a nice french meal. Curtis who had brought us here had never been here before, so I definitely didn't know what to expect. The restaurant is pretty small, and walking by on the street I might not even notice it.

First walking in to the restaurant, we were greeted with two bilingual servers. As we would soon figure out, these two would be the only people serving the entire restaurant that night.

That being said, the restaurant wasn't too big. I also definitely got the feeling that this restaurant was old. Maybe it was the dimly lit rustic decor, the way our table settings looked.

Table Setting

In terms of the food, I tried to take pictures of everyone's dishes despite not having tasted each one. I'll comment on the ones I tasted, and leave the rest up to your tongue imaginations. There are many a la cart items on the menu, and for about $10 more, you can upgrade it to table d'hôte (which adds any appetizer of your choice, a dessert, and a coffee/tea). Seeing as it was a good deal, most of us opted to upgrade to "table d'hôte". They also had a daily specials menu which featured items not found on the regular menu. Because the Specials menu entirely in French we had to ask the waiter to go through each item and explain to us what it was. He was really knowledgeable and patient despite us asking again and again.

 Left: Basket of bread and crostinis,
Right: Kronebourg 1664 Beer

The dinner started off with some drinks and bread. The only beer they had on tap was this French Kronebourg 1664. This is supposedly the best selling pale ale in France. 

"Demi Homard Froid en Belle-Vue" - Half Mayo lobster served cold and with a side of greens

"Avocat aux fruits de mer" -Seafood salad with avocado and a side of greens

Left: "Bisque D'homard" -Lobster bisque, 
Right: "Moules Marinère" -Mussels in a Italian parsley, onion, and green onion white wine broth

After a long while, our appetizers came. Some were surprisingly large in portions! The mussels for example were eventually shared amongst the entire table. The wine sauce was very tasty, and had so much mussel essence to it. We ate many baskets of bread with the sauce! My appetizer was the cold half lobster. When we asked the waiter what "belle-vue" meant, he said the direct translation was "nice view", meaning that the lobster would have an eye looking right at you. Obviously the "eye" of the lobster was just a caper, but it was a nice touch. The meat of the lobster was removed, and a homemade mayo was filled in the shell before the meat was replaced back on top. It's hard to tell if the lobster was fresh since it was cold, but it went well with the tangy vinagrette mayo. The lobster bisque soup was also quite tasty, and you could tell there were pureed bits of lobster in it. Floating on top the soup it is what I thought was the most interesting part of  the appetizer. These were "walleye fish dumplings". The fish was mixed and beaten to a point where it became very light and fluffy, almost like a marshmallow. Really interesting. I've definitely never had fish like that before.

After eating the appetizer I wasn't too hungry already. Luckily the main courses took equally if not longer to arrive so it gave some time for suggestion.

 Left: “Steak Tartare” 
(Minced steak, seasoned with mustard, ketchup Tabasco Worcestershire vegetable oil, pickes, capers, onions, Italian parsley, paprika, salt, pepper)
Right: Carré d’agneau grille, persillé 
(rack of lamb, grilled and topped with a fine herb galirc butter with “duchese” potatoes, mushrooms and daily vegetables)

"Magret de canard a l’orange" -Duck breast fillet in an orange sauce served with duchese” potatoes, mushrooms and daily vegetables

Where to start on the mains? They were all so delicious! The steak tartare came with a bottomless basket of crostinis and was definitely a shareable portion. The beef was bright orangy-red, literally looking like ground beef taken straight off  the supermarket styrofoam packaging. All the seasoning gave it a nice kick, and I found the Tabasco flavour most prominent. No stomachaches after, so that's always a bonus when it comes to tartars. The Duck breast was actually what I ordered, and I think this is my favourite dish of them all. the meat was perfectly cooked it literally melted in my mouth. There was just the right amount of fat between layers, and the skin was toasted to a crispy perfection. I'm salivating just recalling it to mind. Similarly, the rack of lamb was quite good. Rob commended on the food presentation and consistency of the food across dishes, and I think I would have to agree.

We were all so stuffed after the main course, but a good meal always has room for dessert! The desserts here are served quite specially. Instead of choosing from a menu, our waiter brought a cart of desserts right next to our table, and listed out each one that was available. I really liked this serving style as it made us feel really important and special. In general all the desserts were quite good. They were all pre-made earlier in the day so some of the desserts didn't taste as good as if they were fresh, but still a good way to end off the meal.

 Dessert cart

Top Left: Mille-Feuille, Top Right: Chocolate cheesecake
Bottom Left: 3 Chocolate mousse cake, Bottom Right: Ice cream cake with meringue layers

We had a pretty big party, so the dinner ended up being over 3 hours. But it didn't feel at all that long. The courses were spread out perfectly giving us just the right amount of time to chit chat and cleanse our palettes for the next dish. Because these dishes were all very rich and decadent, you definitely needed this gap. If you're looking for a quiet place with consistently well prepared dishes and a relatively unique fine dining experience, then this is definitely the place.

Au Pied de Cochon on Urbanspoon
Pied De Cochon Restaurant on Restaurantica

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