Sat, Dec 07, 2013 - Page 12 News List

Restaurant review: Au Petit Cochon (哈古小館)

By Tang Hsiang-yi  /  Staff reporter

The house-made head cheese at Au Petit Cochon delivers a juicy and tender, yet crunchy, sensation.

Photo: Tang Hsiang-yi, Taipei Times

Serving a selection of French country-style dishes and weekend brunches, Au Petit Cochon (哈古小館) is a homey cafe bistro that has won rave reviews from diners. The perky French name means “a little pig,” referencing the prevalent use of pork in both French and Taiwanese cuisines.

Located on Fujin Street (富錦街) close to the intersection of Sanmin Road (三民路), Au petit cochon’s low-key presence blends in with the tree-lined, slow-living Minsheng Community (民生社區).

The list of entrees offers a variety of options from truffle oil fries (NT$120) to duck liver pate (served with bread for NT$340) and homemade head cheese (served on bread with pickles and mustard for NT$180), in addition to basic items like salad and soup.

I chose the gelatin-rich head cheese to start. Head cheese may sound somewhat unappetizing, but don’t let the name fool you. It is not a type of cheese but a cold cut in the form of meat jelly. Made from pig’s head, including the ears and cartilage, the meaty dish yields a tender yet crunchy sensation. Many European countries have a tradition of making the treat, using different parts of a pig or calf.

For the main dish I opted for something I have yet to try at the bistro — the fish en papillote or “fish in parchment paper” (market price at NT$340). Well, the menu only reads “market fish,” but the chef explained he had yellow croaker and a threadfin fish called wuzaiyu (午仔魚) on offer, and that the fish is wrapped in a pouch of parchment paper with a variety of greens, which got me interested. The latter sounded more unconventional and therefore became my pick.

The result was surprising. Definitely not the most elegantly presented dish I have seen, but it is among the most colorful ones, as the fish was covered by a medley of tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and green peas, with sprigs of thyme.

Au Petit Cochon (哈古小館)

Address: 469 Fujin St, Taipei City(台北市富錦街469號)

Telephone: (02) 2767-8483

Open: Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:30am to 2:30pm and from 5:30pm to 9:30pm; Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 2:30pm and from 5:30pm to 9:30pm

Average meal: NT$500

Details: Credit cards not accepted, English and Chinese menu, no service charge

On the Net: Search for “Au petit cochon” on Facebook

The ingredients in the pouch mingled with each other and were steamed in their own juices, breeding very flavorful, well-seasoned vegetables.

I wouldn’t say the same for the wuzaiyu, which tasted overly fishy. The flesh was tender and good for absorbing the vegetable essence in the pouch, but somehow the essence was not enough to supersede the robust fishy odor, or to make peace with it.

When I was wondering whether to get a glass of wine to go with the fish, the chef recommended a Japanese white ale called Hitachino Nest (NT$180) for its aromatic ingredients like coriander, nutmeg and orange peels. It turned out a delightful companion to both the entree and main dish.

I have been to the bistro several times over the past year. The bistro’s rustic pork stew (NT$280) and pan-fried duck breast (served with beetroot sauce for NT$450) are pleasant memories. Every time, I come home with a full stomach and a smile, thanks to the generous portion and wholehearted service.

On my most recent visit, I reserved a table for one but got a table for four, because all the other reservations had arrived. Dining alone is never a problem at Au Petit Cochon. You receive the same welcoming and friendly service as others.

Next time, I think I will still go back to the bistro for my all-time favorites like the head cheese and truffle oil fries, or try its popular brunch menu, which is served on the weekends from 9am to 1:30pm, ranging from NT$210 to NT$450 with a beverage.

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