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The Cabane Au Pied de Cochon: A tradition of excess
Cabane à Sucre Au Pied De Cochon
11382 Rang de la Fresnière Mirabel J7N 2R9
- Closed temporarily
- Owner(s) Martin Picard , Marc Beaudin , Vincent Dion Lavallée, Michael Picard-Labelle
- Chef(s) Philippe Picard-Labelle
- Opened 2001
- Offers a tasting menu
- Accepts mastercard, visa, amex, cash, debit
- 100 Seats
- Accepts groups
- Has a private room
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the famous Au pied de cochon sugar shack finally reopened its dining room in 2023, with a new chef at the helm! A look back at a gargantuan feast.
Martin Picard‘s cuisine has always been synonymous with abundance and excess. Trained with the greats (Normand Laprise, Jean-Paul Grappe, Marc Meneau) in several starred restaurants, he broke many taboos when he opened his restaurant Au pied de cochon at the turn of the millennium. Blending high gastronomy and Quebec tradition, with a good dose of gourmandise (not to mention gluttony!), his cuisine is one of the pillars of our modern gastronomy. Two decades later, the restaurant’s signature dish, the foie gras poutine, still attracts tourists and locals alike.
By opening the Cabane in Mirabel in 2008, Martin and his partner Marc Beaudin wanted to get even closer to the land and control the entire production line, from maple syrup to pig farming. Once again, Martin Picard was a pioneer in offering the first gourmet sugar shack in Quebec. The concept was and still is a huge success: people literally rush to make reservations, which fly away like little poudings chômeurs. It was even the subject of a documentary series, Un chef à la cabane, which will end this year after 11 seasons.
Like Pied de cochon, the Cabane offers a revisited maple feast of colossal proportions: pea soup, maple ham, baked beans with dumpling ragout, foie gras tourtière with half a wheel of melted cheese; wave after wave of dishes, each more decadent than the last, topped with syrup and foie gras. Enough to knock out the biggest eaters. The amount of food is such that at one time, the imposing tower of desserts was served before the meal, lest the guests not make it to the end. Fortunately, nowadays, take-away dishes are placed on the table with each service to give our stomachs a break.
In the tradition of the Pied de Cochon
Philippe Picard-Labelle, Martin Picard‘s nephew, took over the kitchen just before the pandemic. “It had been less than a month since we opened, I had made my first menu with Martin, and then the pandemic hit,” explains the young chef, who has not been idle with his team in the meantime, working on the development of the picnic baskets at the Cabane d’à côté (with the help of Vincent Dion Lavallée), the take-out menus, and the ready-to-eat section of Pied de cochon.
It was an experience that brought everyone together, to the point where the Cabane and the Cabane d’à côté teams are now one.
Today, Philippe continues in the footsteps of his uncle, offering the same formula of abundance, slightly adapted to today’s taste. The team has reduced the number of services in order to offer a little more time at the table to the guests (which is certainly not a bad thing!), but also to spare the staff in the dining room and in the kitchen. There is now only one service on Thursday and Friday evenings, then three on Saturday and Sunday.
A little less than a hundred guests can be seated at communal tables in the large log dining room, above which hangs a painting by the artist Marc Séguin. Three VIP tables, one of which is in the kitchen, welcome friends and a few more affluent guests.
The menu is as copious and gargantuan as ever, with several classics still on the menu, but the new chef and his team have come up with a few novelties of their own. During our visit, we were treated to a layered cake of foie gras, maple and pistachios as an appetizer. Then, the famous pea soup, a souffléd omelette with beurre blanc trout and herbs, and a cheesy potato gratin.
The third course is maple ham served with pancakes fried in duck fat, and remoulade (for a little freshness), with crispy sweetbreads topped with a generous slice of pan-fried foie gras. Then comes the pièce de résistance: a whole roasted guinea fowl – head included – accompanied by cabbage cigars au gratin stuffed with duck in the Burgundian style, a jar of baked beans and a warm rapini “salad” (the word is used quite loosely here).
You think you’ve reached the end of the road? Think again—we haven’t reached dessert! Apple and maple mousse with dulce de leche caramel praline heart, carefully hand painted and glazed; maple ice cream with maple shortbread and maple taffy bears; pecan and maple pie; and finally the St-Benoit wheel filled with maple butter and maple cotton candy – of course.
The Cabane also has a comprehensive wine list that includes both great wines in magnums and more reasonably priced natural wines. The bar is also well-stocked with house creations that feature the Pied’s spirits, including chili vodka and Mononcle’s Gin. For our part, we opted for a magnum of Touski, the sparkling cider from the Au pied de cochon cidery, whose sharp acidity was very welcome to cleanse the palate of all that fat and sugar.
The Pied’s pantry
Speaking of cider and spirits, these are just a few of the products made by the team at Le Pied de cochon. With the maple syrup season being short, the kitchen at the Cabane is transformed the rest of the year into a production space for the ready-to-eat product line and the picnics at the Cabane d’à côté. They also prepare an excellent maple syrup, recently offered in thin 250ml cans, available online and in IGA supermarkets. Seasonally, the online store offers boxed meals (including a sugar menu for those who didn’t manage to get a seat at the Cabane), kits to cook your own baked beans at home, panettones, as well as a host of condiments and various items bearing the logo of the Pied de cochon, including the Big Bill jackets worn by the staff.
Until next year!
The 2023 sugaring-off season is already over, so you’ll have to wait until next spring to experience the Cabane. Mark your calendars now: reservations for the 2024 season will be available starting December 1st via the official website, and they tend to go fast!
In the meantime, the team at the Cabane welcomes you to enjoy their picnic formula in the orchard, from May 27 to September 17 at the Cabane d’à côté. Reservations here.
Written by Mikael Lebleu
Photography by Mikael Lebleu