My vote for the best “friend-I-haven’t-seen-in-a-long-time” lunch in Buckhead? Au Pied du Cochon. The décor is spectacular – but the food and service make the meal. The restaurant, located in the Intercontinental on Peachtree is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Au Pied doesn’t close at all. Which makes it perfect for a late afternoon rendezvous with a friend. The original restaurant in Paris is located in Les Halles, the site of the legendary French meat and fish market. Opened in 1946, it has never closed its doors since 1947. Just like its namesake, Atlanta’s own Au Pied du Cochon celebrates the pig in all forms, including the feet or “trotters”. Don’t be scared by the pork selection, there are an array of other delicious meat, seafood and veggie choices on the menu. The service is polished and professional, perfect for a long leisurely lunch. Each month brings a special lunch menu, with specials like savory or sweet crepes or waffles. (I know savory waffles sound funky – but the smoked salmon and cream cheese waffles were divine.) Much more than traditional French fare is offered, although it is hard to resist a bowl of the creamy, cheesy and delicious onion soup. Just in case you have forgotten what excellent wine service is like, they bring the entire bottle and offer a generous pour tableside. This applies to any of the wines offered by the glass. Lovely! How nice to be able to see the label of the wine you have chosen. At the end of a relaxed and comfortable lunch, don’t be surprised to receive a little take home treat, like a chocolate or a fruit jelly, an excellent end to a lovely lunch and good conversation. Here’s my take on the classic French Onion Soup that is easy, quick and just a little lighter: French Onion Soup A Rich, Beefy Broth Dense with Onions, Topped By Toasted Bread and Covered with Melted Cheese 4 Large Yellow Onions 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter 1 Bay Leaf 1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour 4 Cups Light Beef Broth 1 Cup Dry White Wine Sea Salt to Taste 1 Baguette 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Gruyere*
 Step One Slice your onions about 1/4” thick with your food processor, or a mandoline. Step Two Saute your onions with the butter in a large pan over medium heat until golden brown – this should take about 20 minutes. (Or, In a covered oven-proof pot, melt the butter. Add the sliced Onions. Place your pot in a 400F oven for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden brown.) 
 Step Three Remove from the oven, and add the Bay Leaf and Black Pepper. Cook for 15 minutes more over low heat, (on stovetop). Add the Flour, and stir to coat the Onions. Add the Beef Broth and White Wine. Simmer for 1 hour over medium heat, or until creamy. Taste, add the Salt, and remove the Bay Leaf. 
 Step Four While the soup simmers, cut the Baguette into 1/2” slices, place on a cookie sheet and toast for 8 minutes at 350F or until light brown. 
 Step Five Pour the soup into individual ovenproof bowls or ramekins. Top with the Baguette Toasts and Gruyere. Pop under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

This Article was originally published in the Buckhead Patch online newsletter at

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