The Black Hoof
Upon entering this restaurant on the hunt for Toronto’s best charcuterie, I was impressed with the modern décor and ambient lighting. I was greeted by the hostess and requested a seat at the bar (there was a waiting list for tables, so I opted for the bar seating). The small yet efficiently designed kitchen is bustling with activity – however there is a sense of controlled chaos that engulfs the kitchen area. Once we get seated, the bartender takes our first round order of drinks. I go for a pear cider and my partner goes for a cosmopolitan. The bartender, with his efficient and perfectionist ways, mixes the perfect cosmopolitan and pours a perfect pint of cider.
Having no regular menu, it allows the Black Hoof to create unique daily menus that use the freshest ingredients. The Black Hoof serves food that hovers around peoples’ love for all things meat - incorporating all parts head to tail.
As we placed our order, we knew we were in for something special. Being a first time guest, we relied heavily on the bartender’s recommendations. He assured us that we could choose no wrong. Up first was the large charcuterie platter and bread. When it arrived, we were taken through the different kinds of meat that would be delighting our palates. The cured meats and pâtés (minus one) were prepared in house, making each of these scrumptious delights exclusive to the Black Hoof. Ever since my first charcuterie at Eight Wine Bar at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Toronto, I have been on the prowl for more unique charcuterie plates. To summarize, the Black Hoof charcuterie is a MUST have!
From there, we moved on to uncharted territory - constantly in awe at the buzz in the kitchen. Considering the limited space, the use of household equipment and the quality of the food – it is truly amazing that this level of cooking can be done. Up next, we were brought what can only be said to be one of the most exquisite tasting stews in the world, the Tripe and Trotter Stew. It is full of flavour! The meat is melt in your mouth tender and the sauce lusciously rich. The highlight of our meal arrived next – the Raw Horse Sammy (sandwich). One word, divine! The seasoned horse tartare served open faced on toasted light rye, garnished with capers and an quail egg yolk on top is quite possibly the best thing I ever ate (like the Food Network TV show). The mayo and red onions adds a nice kick, and the pickles are the perfect accompaniment to this exquisite sandwich. I am in love with a sandwich and it has left me asking for another! As the night progresses and the drinks keep pouring in, we decide to order another dish – smoked sweetbreads with a sage cream and chive polenta. The sweetbreads have the perfect amount of crisp from the coating and a beautiful soft smooth texture inside which is oh so pleasing to the mouth. The portion is generous enough to share for two and the polenta is perfection – smooth and flavourful.
We pass on dessert, despite how tempting the chocolate-ginger cake with gastric and shredded apples sounded.
Overall, the experience at the Black Hoof left us truly satisfied and with a desire to come again…SOON! We loved the atmosphere, the music fit the evening, the lighting romantic and the service excellent. The best part was unquestionably the food.
The Black Hoof
928 Dundas Street West
Chef/Owner Grant van Gammeron
Owner Jen Agg
*note: It seems that the dynamic duo of Van Gammeron and Agg are up to their creative genius again. Looking for a new challenge they are soon to launch a new project in the space that the Hoof Café used to occupy. If it is anything close to their level of food and service they dish out every night at The Black Hoof I can only imagine that things are going to be good…very good!