Monday, June 6, 2011


If you know Toronto's food scene, you know that The Black Hoof if now one of the best spots in town, loved and adored by the critics. I have been itching to go for months now, but was always nervous to try it on a Friday or Saturday since they don't take reservations! I finally went! With my three classmates from George Brown on a Monday night, at 6pm. By 6:25, the place was almost full - on a MONDAY!

The Black Hoof is cozy on the inside fitting about 25 including bar seats, decorated with dim lighting, rustic wood and tin. The kitchen is open and the smallest I have ever seen. Four of them squeezed into a tiny cube with an old-school electric oven that one would expect to see at a cottage. As someone learning to be a chef, the respect I felt for that team after seeing that was insane!

As the Monday I went was a gorgeous night we decided to sit on the patio that had recently just opened. The patio is constructed of beautiful wood with a large image on a pig on one wall and two chalkboard menus, one for the drinks and one for the wine. We started with the Hoofs creative cocktails, a basil fawlty (gin, orange blossom water, lime, simple syrup and basil), a tequila Maria and two lemon meringue-inspired cocktails sweetened with a lavender simple syrup called lillypies.

We instantly devoured the menu and settled on ten different sharing plates. The Black Hoof is really a place where you go to share food. The dishes are meant for that, as the mains are smaller then one might expect a typical main to be. We started off with house-pickled vegetables, warm marinated olives, a cheese board and of course the famous meat platter. On the meat platter we had a wild selection! Genoa salami, duck proscuitto, fennel salami, sopressata, spicy sausage and horse mortdaella. The meats were arranged carefully on a beautiful wooden plank and served with grainy mustard and lavendar lard. A crazy duo but one that worked very well! The thing I loved most about The Black Hoof was the time they took to make their food pairings perfect. For example on the cheese board, the cheese were paired accordingly with a red current and rosemary jelly, a nutmeg and blueberry jam and a hazelnut and vanilla sauce with a bourbon glaze on the apples. Each component on their own was as lovely as when they were paired with the specific item. The originality behind the flavours at The Black Hoof is sheer culinary genius, as we all agreed at the end of the meal.

 Marinated Olives
 The Cheese Board
The Charcuterie Board

The complexity yet simplicity is apparent in each dish, and with every dish presented on a different type of plate, there was just such excitement when each dish was brought to the table! The real winner of the meal was the fried sweetbreads finished with fiddleheads (in season right now!), sautéed ramps, fingerling potatoes finished with a velvety butter sauce. My other favourite was the  N'Duja and brussel crostini with a parsley pesto, fried parsley and fresh Parmesan (N'Duja is sort of like chorizo in my mind, a bit spicy!) You can tell that the quality of the ingredients used is there, and when we talked with one of the owners, Jen she told us that they are constantly changing the accompaniments of each dish according to the season.

 N'Duja Crostini
 Tongue on Brioche
The concept behind The Black Hoof is meat, taking on the philosophy of snout-to-tail (aka using the whole animal, not just one piece.), where they use different sorts of meat and make the off cuts available to the general public. For example on their menu is horse, beef heart, sweetbreads, cod collar, fois gras, duck liver, tongue and pig belly. What a crazy selection! But they know what they are doing, and their execution is perfect. Never have I tried horse or sweetbreads, but both were extremely pleasurable to eat, something I would have never imagined!

The mood in The Black Hoof was calm but you could just feel all of the love and passion from everyone working there to those eating. The general manager and part owner Jen just finished off our meal perfectly by talking with four star struck chef school students on our way out. I will most definitely be heading back to the Hoof as soon as possible. 

And as my classmate, friend and fellow blogger Carl put it, The Black Hoof - "Where capicollo, chorizo and prosciutto happily clog the menu and your arteries."

photo credit: carl and his cool iphone

1 comment:

  1. Cute blog. I like your pics and I have been meaning to get to Black Hoof myself! The though of tongue scares me I admit. I also write about eating and living in Toronto and go to George Brown part time! Nice to stumble upon you!