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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Black Hoof :: Charcuterie Dinner Love, Round 1 of 2

Carnivore heaven, the Black Hoof has been one of the most tasty and interesting dinners that I've had in Toronto. Just west of Trinity Bellwoods and south of Little Italy, Black Hoof and Hoof Cafe sit in a quiet pocket of downtown yet consistently attracts droves of diners, snout first & pigtails wagging in excitement. One of the best experiences that Toronto currently has to offer, I so pleased and satisfied that I recently returned for yet another dinner! This is Round 1, click here for Round 2! OINK!

Black Hoof, Round 1 of 2
Verdict: Go! Outstanding quality, service,& food.
Meal: Dinner
Price: $40-$50 + tax & tip
Location: 928 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Outside & Interior

Seeing Scotchy Pink Elephants
As they don't take reservations, if you want a table for a decent crowd of people it's best to go early. They open at 6PM, which is when I promptly arrived and happily snagged the large table by the window. As I waited for the rest of my party, I enjoyed people-watching from the window and noticed a decent amount of activity going in and out of Black Hoof's sister restaurant Hoof Cafe across the street.

Also known for their cocktails, I enjoyed a Pink Elephant while contemplating the menu. Yum! The grapefruit juice-scotch mixture was simple and tasty and my friend ordered a foreign-sounding beer. I preferred my fruity cocktail and lip-puckering slice of grapefruit.

Bar & Kitchen

As with Hoof Cafe, the service is pleasantly upbeat and chatty. An extensive and interesting assortment of drinks are listed on their menu, and the dinner crowd steadily arrives. By 6:20pm, the small venue was full and hungry diners-to-be were eagerly eyeing the chalkboard (and our table!) as the waitress took their information for the dinner queue. Excited to start our porky dinner, we pick a series of options off of the chalkboard menu. We're such eager beavers...(hmm...charcuterie beaver? Now that would be an interesting experiment.)

They also have a great patio out back, only open in the summer:

Bright & Airy! Perfect for a summer dinner.

Charcuterie Platter ($16 small/$25 large) & Thuet Bread ($2 small/$4 large)
This is a wonderful introduction for those who have never tried charcuterie. Basically, charcuterie is a series of meaty products (cured, whipped & other preparation techniques) served on a wooden platter. I've enjoyed it at Terroni and Cava, but the large platter's offering of 10 yummy treats definitely wins.

Thoughtfully ordered from strongest to lightest in flavour, we slowly worked our way up the platter. For those who are particularly curious, I'll try to recall the different cuts of meat, but I was too busy noshing to write it down. Note that this platter is never the same - the kitchen fills it to their heart's desire.

So what was in the stable?
Foie gras mousse, ribbons of lard, venison bresaola, cured ham, horse prosciutto, duck liver pate, duck prosciutto, pancetta, blueberry bison salami, horse sausage, & Spanish chorizo.

All offered with a pile of full-seeded mustard, a dish of teeny-tiny pickled vegetables, and we ordered Thuet Bread on the side. Veggies included tiny pickles (gherkins/cornichons), half a cherry tomato, 2 olives, yellow cauliflower, a miniature onion, and a little carrot. The Thuet bread was soft & fresh - a great accompaniment.

The star was the foie gras mousse - whipped to perfection, it just melts in your mouth. I could quite easily sit down with a jar of this & fresh bread and devour it on a daily basis. Too bad they don't sell it in the jam aisle (for my appetite anyways...fortuitous for my heart.)

I also enjoyed the incredibly thin venison bresaola (you could see right through it!), blueberry bison salami, and the horse "bacon" (prosciutto) quite a bit. I can't wait to order this again and find a different series of delights!

Roasted Bone Marrow ($9)
Scooping bone marrow right from the bone was a new experience for me! It was pretty neat to see the lateral cross section of a cow's leg. It reminded me of little samples of horse tibia that I had to crush for a class once, except that didn't stir my appetite quite as much.

Hollowed with a little spoon & sprinkled with a bit of coarse salt on top of warm, smoky bread, this was tasty and good for the immune system. I reminded myself of the health benefits as I savoured each bit of fatty, rich, comforting flavour.

Tongue in Brioche ($13)
The sandwich was a ridiculously generous portion of thinly sliced beef tongue between two plump slices of fragrant brioche, all held together with a skewered cornichons. A healthy (hah!) dose of mustard and tarragon mayo  drizzled all over made my heart skip - whether it was in fear or excitement, I'm still not sure. On the far end, the little green ribbon that you can see is pickled celery.

Incredibly soft and tender, prior to this delight I didn't know that tongue could be this delectable. While I prefer the buttery & decadent Tongue Grilled Cheese at Hoof Cafe, I would never turn down this sandwich.

Raw Horse Sammy w/ Hot Sauce ($22)

Fresh bread topped with horse tartar with a raw egg yolk & shallots on one slice, and a liberal helping of hot sauce on the other. The "HORSE" spelled out in sauce was a fun touch. It's a little tough to see, but behind the slice with the horse lie cornichons on top of whole-seed mustard.

I couldn't believe how tasty the raw horse meat was - I tried it with and without the hot sauce & bread to get a sense of the true flavour. Soft with a mild dabbling of raw meaty taste, I slowly enjoyed it in little bites before crowning it as Toronto's best sandwich. That was, however, before I tried the heavenly Tongue Grilled Cheese...I'd have a serious dilemma picking between the two if they were dangled before my eyes.
Keep the yolk but hold the healthy egg white please!

Wild Boar Belly, Summer Salad, Rhubarb Jelly, & Pistachios
Nuts on the side, because we like our severe nut-allergy friend alive
While tasty, I suppose since I eat pork belly on a regular basis (Gotta love Samgyeopsal in Korean restaurants. Now that's real K-BBQ) this was the least impressive. Nevertheless, it was still tasty, tasty tasty with the rhubarb jelly. Smokey, crispy, tender, and delicious this was a great way to end the night but I would've rather tried another interesting item on their menu.

A little off topic...
The boar belly's rhubarb jelly meant that it was like a dessert, right?, we didn't think so either so we hopped over to Little Italy's Dolce Gelato. I love their gelato and I will openly admit that I've tried every single one of their regular flavours. Favourites include Dolce Rocher (complete with chunks of Ferrero Rocher!), Amaretto, Mondoria Tostada (toasted almond), Nocciola (pure hazelnut), and pistachio (not the Pistaccio Siciliano, but the other one). Not a fan of French Cappuccino (especially disliked this one actually), Mon Cherie, Banana, Malaga, or the Vaniglia. As an ice cream addict (I polished off 4 cones last Tuesday, hi diabetes?) I can say with conviction that this is a pretty darn good dessert place. And trust me when I say that I've been to a lot of them in Toronto (future post idea!).

Dolce Gelato

Back to the Hoof...
The entire meal was great. Black Hoof is definitely one of Toronto's best culinary adventures and a true gem. Quality, creativity, and fair portion sizes - all marks of a great dinner. With the ever-changing menu, I will definitely return to Black Hoof and Hoof Cafe so keep an eye out for more porky adventures! I plan on going for at least dessert. I have since returned to Black Hoof, and that will be posted sometime soon. OINK!

Black Hoof, Round 1 of 2
Verdict: Go! Outstanding quality, service,& food.
Meal: Dinner
Price: $40-$50 + tax & tip
Location: 928 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Another Black Hoof Review...
Black Hoof, Round 2 of 2
Verdict: Go, but stick with the menu. Special was awful.
Meal: Dinner

Price: $40-$50 + tax & tip
Location: 928 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Also check out their sister restaurant...
Hoof Cafe
Verdict:  Go! Run there! NOW! Best meal yet...
Meal: Brunch
Price: $20-$30 + tax & tip
Location: 923 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Black Hoof on UrbanspoonBlack Hoof on Restaurantica


Walter said...

My impressions from when I went: Their mousse of foie gras and the pancetta were amazing, but I did not care for the stronger-flavoured parts of the charcuterie platter; the one at La Palette (Kensington Market) is better throughout, IMO. The tongue sandwich was good but Caplansky's is much better, despite being smaller.

Gautam said...

You should try these 2 places up near Yonge & Eg area.
1. Gelato Simple Italian (on Yonge b/w Davisville & Eglinton). Absolutely the best! I cannot get enough of their Chili Chocolate flavour (literally twice in a day good)

2. Il Gelaterie (2 streets down from Eglington on Mt. Pleasant). Get the coffee or the chocolate orange flavour. This was also twice in a day good.

Note: It seems as though the owners were partners at one point and then split-up.

Both these were better than the Mad Italian on Bayview or Hollywood Gelato (in terms of variety and flavour)

Chris ( said...

I love how adventurous you are with food. I'm so convinced that my eventual trip to Black Hoof will be nothing short of AMAZING. ahhhhhhh <3 Excellent pictures as always.

Erin said...

Chili chocolate sounds fantastic, I've seen it but I haven't ventured in. On my hit-list now :)

YESsSss Chris! You must Hoof it up! You'll love love love it.

Me ... said...

Erin this might sound really dumb ... but was it really raw horse?

Erin said...

Yup! Horse tartar. It was delicious!

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