Au Pied de Cochon: for night birds only
Au pied de cochon is what you can call a myth: it opened back in 1947 and since then has never closed it doors. How come? Because it’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is a nice thing, you'll agree, because night birds sometimes might get very, very hungry on their tours. Yes, it is a very touristy place but it still happens to Parisians, too, to end up Au pied du cochon.
The stomach of Paris
Of course, Au pied de cochon has a history – and you can feel it. Before the famous food market - le ventre de Paris - left Les Halles for Rungis, this place was one of those where market porters, food dealers and their clients used to eat their traditional onion soup in the middle of the night or a pied de cochon, a pig’s leg, for breakfast, no kidding.
Coarse but charming
There is still a bit of this flair left, its côté canaille, how the French would call it, its popular, coarse but charming dishes. But this being a mythical spot, you don’t go there because the food is especially good. As so many other traditional places, Le Pied de Cochon had been bought by a big group, Les Frères Blanc. For them it’s more about maximization of profits than of being loved. (Read the funny chapter “The Balzar wars” in Adom Gopnik's book "Paris to the moon" about the acquisition of the famous “Le Balzar” by the Flo group and the revolution that followed - and you get an idea how painful the changing can be for the regular customers).
I read a frightening description of the traditional soupe à l’oignon by food journalist Joe Ray. I, for my part, stuck to the seafood and had a lovely Assiette de l’écailler (26 €). Oysters are from the famous producer Gillardeau and at least, as long as it’s fresh, you can't really ruin raw shellfish...