Atmosphere: Casual, small tables, reminiscent of a French bistro. Hours: Seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Reservations: None. Lines form on weekend nights, but the wait is usually not more than 20 minutes. Credit cards: Not accepted. Price range: $3.50 to $6.95. No special rates for children.
It was an unseasonably warm December night, with the usual shoppers and pedestrians crowding Wisconsin Avenue and a group of Hare Krishna people chanting largely unnoticed on the street, when our party of 10 descended upon Au Pied de Cochon.
The little French restaurant, formerly an Irish pub, is located at the corner of Dumbarton Street and Wisconsin Avenue in the heart of Georgetown.
The restaurant takes its name from the original in Paris, and translated means "foot of the pig." Pig's feet, a delicacy I haven't yet tried, remains one of the houses specialties. However, anything the restaurant serves is special and the food has been unfailingly delicious each of the six or more times i've eaten there.
The atmosphere is bustling, crowded, casual and noisy. Because of its informality, but especially because of its great food and low prices, it is an excellent place to take the family. A family of four can eat good French food for under k, that is if they can resist the homemade desserts (I susually can't), which can hike up the bill.
The restaurant serves typically French food; there are no burgers, like crepes, quiche, coq au vin, stuffed goose or French onion soup with dinners at prices less than $7, this is the place for you. Among many other dishes, they service lobster (1 pound for $6.95) and London broil on most nights. The restaurant charges $1 extra for the specials of the day at dinner.
If your children are finkicky eaters they might object to the foreign names, but I don't thinkthey will object to the fod. Our group, which included five children ranging in age from 9 to 15, were unanimously satisfied customers.
One of the children's favorites was the french fries. They all loved the French bread and fresh butter, which they oversampled before their dinners arrived. They loved the chocolate mousse, too-a surprise to the adults, for we thought they were too young to be gourmands.
An unfortunate feature is that the restaurant has no children's menu and no children's prices. The servings are plentiful, however, and most could easily be split between two young diners.
Some of the dishes we tried included:
Crepes filled with chicken and mushrooms, $3.95. The 9-year-old who likes crepes loved these, but found the portion much too large. All hot dinners are served with a side order of ratatouille, in addition to french fries. The ratatiouille, a tangy vegetable dish consisting of cooked tomatoes, green peppers, onions, zucchini and egg-plant, was a trifle peppery for several of the younger children.
The ham and cheese crepes at the same price were ordered by two adults. We both loved them and found them far superior to those served in places specializing in crepe cookery.
The roast beef platter served on a bed of lettuce with a cold vegetable salad, $5.75, was a tender, heaping serving of roast beef. Again, too large for a child.
The cog au vin was succulent and the sauce just right; at $4.95, it was a good choice and a good buy.
Two adults ordered the quiche Lorraine, priced at $3.95, and had differing opinions about it. One said it was the best he'd ever eaten, the other thought it a bit bland.
Salad Nicoise, $3.50, was a huge salad of roamine elttuce, albacore tuna, slices of hard-boiled egg and other vegetables served with a delicate oil and vinegar dressing. One of the adults loved this and so did one youngster, who had it served sans lettuce on a large, open-faced French log bread.
Sauteed blue fish, $5.75, was ordered by the 15-year old, whom I must admit has had more experience eating out than many adults, and found the dish alluring. It was seasoned delicately with herbs, butter and garlic.
Some of us also tried the soup: vichysoisse, $1.25, or French onion soup au gratin, $2.25. Both received high praise.
Even though the dinners were rich and the servings plentiful, several of our group opted for dessert. We tried the chocolate mousse and the Napoleons. The restaurant admits that not all desserts are made on the premises, but they're fresh and luscious. The average price for dessert is $1.50.
The restaurant also gets high marks for service. The waiters were courteous, helpful and efficient.
Our bill for the evening, which included four orders of soup, two large carafes and 10 cokes (each child ordered two), in addition to 10 dinners, came to $84, or $100 with tip. The share for our family of three was $26.60, including tip.