Au Pied de Cochon From the Take-Out Counter
The week that La Maison du rôti went up in flames, I bolted to La Paryse for a good take-out meal. But it was Monday and La Paryse was closed. Why don't I have a better list of restaurants with solid take-out?
So I schlepped home, opened a can of tomatoes and stewed.
Soon after that night I heard of a new concept take-out in Place Ville Marie based around fresh salads called Laitue & go. Mouth-watering visions of arugula, chicory and endives filled my head. I bolted there, but again was disappointed. No arugula. No chicory. No endives. If you're going to open a glorified salad bar shouldn't you have more than the usual lettuces and a token spinach leaf? God, ever heard of a mustard green?
This made me think of Restaurant Au pied de cochon, where I once had the amazing PDC salad, which is named for the place. This thought was serendipitous because it led me to discover that Au pied de cochon was not only open, it was open to walk-in customers. It serves up the entire menu for take-out orders, including its salads. I went immediately.
Salads aside, Au pied de cochon has all makings of Montreal's best take-out. There's poutine, several different kinds of sausages, potpies, fish and chips, and, at this time of year, there are also sugar shack treats.
But since I was on a salad kick (maybe it was the weather) I ordered the blue cheese, apple and endive salad. This is a salad! It was $8.50, which is the same price Laitue & go was charging for its scrimpy fare.
It's considered an appetizer on the restaurant menu, but it is massive. I don't think I could recreate it myself for under $10. It's jam-packed with apple and walnuts. A leafy greenness bound it together.
While I definitely got what I wanted, those endives may have been upstaged. The chunks of cheese were so plentiful that I started putting aside every other morsel, each about the size of a pink Pearl eraser. It was really rich and in the end about half of the saladâ€™s cheese sat reserved in a Tupperware â€“ about the equivalent of a 200-gram tranche you would pick up from your cheese monger.
At this point I was glad I went with the fries as a side order and not the cheese-laden poutine.
I dug into them. Very good. But not as winning as the blue cheese salad. For one, it didn't come with any mayonnaise. For $3.75 you think it might come with its own travel size jar of Hellmann's.
Another problem was the packaging. The fries themselves came in a brown bag. But it was in a series of paper bags that made getting to the fries an activity in anxiety. Where are the fries? WHERE ARE THE FRIES?
The perceived weight continued to plummet as I removed another layer of thick brown paper. Finally, I reached deep-fried gold but I was perturbed. No one wants to play Russian dolls at dinner.
So maybe I should've ordered the poutine. It's legendary, with or without the foie gras.
Since I was so enamored with their salad, I tried another. There are six of them and they are all listed under Appetizers.
(Note: the restaurant web site does not supply a menu because it changes too frequently -- or so I was told. Suspicious of this, I responded by taking photos of the menu. The person who took my order returned too quickly so I felt the need to explain. "C'est pour la prochaine fois," I smiled. "Génial" was the reply, a little more deadpan than I would've hoped.)
The beet and goat's cheese salad ($9) contained almost as much cheese as the previous salad. But it was the goat's cheese of an airier, lighter and fluffier kind, which made it slightly less rich. But since it's stacked with sweet yellow beets and served with only a small handful of baby arugula, it could still pass for dessert. Nice!
Best of all, when I washed everything down with some cheap Corsican wine, the bottle didn't cost twice as much as the food.
When BYO is not an option, take-out is a great way to avoid the standard restaurant mark-ups on alcohol.
Restaurant Au pied de cochon; 536 Duluth E. (corner St-Hubert), 514-281-1114