Monday, September 19, 2011

Au Cinquieme Peche: French Canadian Food

Before our recent trip to New England and Montreal, I saw an episode of Bizarre Foods where Andrew Zimmern visited the restaurant Au Cinquieme Peche (the Fifth Sin) in Montreal and tasted seal meat. It looked wonderful, so I did a little investigating. Seal hunting has been banned in the U.S. since 1972 and it is not legal to serve in the U.S. Commercial seal hunting is still legal in Canada and the seals that are hunted are apparently not endangered. The hunters are seeking the seal skins and usually leave the seal meat to rot. Therefore, the seal meat is not the target of the hunters and the seal being eaten would otherwise go to waste. There are only a few restaurants that serve seal meat, Au Cinquieme Peche being one of them.  
It is located at 4475 rue St.-Denis in Montreal, just a short distance from the Mont Royal metro station (phone: 514-286-0123). Judy and I had reservations for 5:30, when it opened, and had one of the most wonderful meals we've ever eaten. The menu was in French (appetizers, 
and main course)
so our waiter spent quite a bit of time with us describing each item in detail, including all of the ingredients. I was disappointed to find that seal was not on the menu. I asked the waiter if there was any chance there might be some extra seal in the freezer that I could try. He said he would check. Therefore, it was a wonderful surprise when he brought us out two small breaded pieces of meat, consisting of 70% seal and 30% pork, with a pureed squash. 
Our waiter explained that the seal meat is so lean, that pork is added to give it some fat. The taste was very different, unlike anything I've ever tasted before. It was very dark and very lean. 
I appreciated very much their effort to accommodate my desire to eat some seal. Judy got borscht, a cold beet soup, that was amazing. It was relatively thick and had a beautiful pinkish red color. 
It had small bits of yellow beet in it and several large chunks of octopus. The octopus was not rubbery at all, in fact it was more the texture of ham or a similar meat and had a nice flavor. Judy proclaimed it the best octopus she has ever eaten. I got two appetizers, a ravioli filled with head and shoulder pieces from a roast suckling pig and with several types of mushrooms, including shiitake and black trumpet or black chanterelles.
 The pork flavor in the ravioli was divine. 
Perhaps most interesting was the duck heart tartare, chopped up raw duck heart 
which was surprisingly creamy, along with fresh green beans and soybeans. 
For an entree, Judy got a hangar steak and pork shoulder (I'm assuming the pork shoulder was from the roast suckling pig) and some fried bread. 
The hangar steak was beautifully textured, nice and rare, 
with a succulent taste. The pork shoulder was very moist, but could have used a little more seasoning. 
I got guinea fowl, known in France as pintade, 
which I have eaten once before, but not cooked anywhere near as deliciously as this was. The flesh was extremely moist and flavorful and the skin had an even better flavor.  
It was accompanied by pureed squash, pieces of both red and yellow beet and lobster mushroom. 
I've not been a real beet fan, but the texture and taste of these beats were pleasing and tasty. I would chow down on beets like this at any time. This was also my first experience eating lobster mushrooms. Although we were both full, the food was so good we had to try some dessert. We got a cheese plate which included locally made blue cheese, what I believe was probably a double cream brie and a semi-soft cheese. 
It also included a cup of white peaches. The other dessert was fresh strawberries in a chocolate brownie with sweet cream on top, served in a canning jar. 
At the end of our meal, as a very nice touch, the chef, Benoit Lenglet, visited us at our table and asked us how we liked the meal. This meal was a wonderful blend of fresh ingredients and unusual foods. I wish Montreal were closer so that we could go back. 


  1. One of the best meals I've ever eaten, and SO artfully presented. You didn't mention that the restaurant is a small room below street level, which only seemed to add to the cozy, charming atmosphere.

  2. Just want you to know I'm drooling. This time we have multiple nights in Montreal--perhaps we'll get over there to this place? Hoping so.


  3. woowww so yummy food I really like it and of course everything in this pictures look so perfect