Sunday, April 10, 2011

Adventurous Eats at The Black Hoof

The Black Hoof has been well received and reviewed in Toronto since its inception 2+ years ago. Regrettably, we never made our way there because of the "no reservations" policy...I am not always keen to line-up, especially given there are so many options in the city. On the warmest weekend of the year yet, we decided to head out to Dundas West and try our luck. I should mention that driving there was probably a mistake - Dundas West is currently under some major road construction with parking at a super premium. It also kind of explained why the area seemed a bit quiet for a Saturday night. We love the neighbourhood and hope the businesses are not suffering too terribly under construction, like those on St. Clair have. But I digress! We walked into a full house around 7pm, not surprising since the restaurant opened at 6pm (parking seriously took some time!), but the hostess was quick to take our number and suggest a place for a drink down the street, The Press Club. I'd probably never walk into the Press Club on my own, but it's a dive'ish-neighbourhoody kind of place, I have no doubt some great times have been had there! Once we arrived, we were pretty sure the rest of the patrons were waiting for tables at the Hoof (we jokingly asked the bar tender if they open early just for those waiting for a table...I think it's true!). We were told it would take up to 45min for a table, but something opened up for us before I could even finish my drink, so back to the Hoof we went for our food adventure!

The Black Hoof's menu is found on a blackboard at the back end of the restaurant - simple sounding items, yet not for the unadventurous. A sample of the food offered can be found on the website, but it's just a sampling of what you might find in person. Although we don't really find the menu all that "adventurous" or crazy, it's definitely not your average restaurant!

No surprise that we tried to order as much as we possibly could (until the waitress tells us it is too much food...but we still find they generally underestimate how much we can eat!). Below is how our indulgent food adventure went:

House cured meats - a fantastic assortment of...well, house cured meats. I can't honestly recall all that came on the platter, but it was plentiful (bigger than I expected, enough for a table of 4+ really!) and we enjoyed all of it. The meat ranged from light to strong and was served with some good, grainy mustard. Loved this, and if you're going to visit a charcuterie, this really is a must have! There wasn't any meat on the board I didn't enjoy.

Bone marrow - served with sea salt and chimichurri. This was a small yet indulgent dish, even the bread that accompanied was indulgent, drenched in butter or oil of some sort. It was, however, quite delicious...the sea salt and chimichurri gave it just a hint of flavour to kick it up a notch.

Smoked beef tartar - this is a pretty standard dish for us to order, but it was not served standard at Black Hoof. It came with bread pressed with garlic and soaked in egg yolk. I am actually not a fan of egg yolk so it felt a bit much for me...but the beef tartar was really AMAZING. GREAT beef taste, and not at all mushy, which some tartars can be. This was very well prepared (minus the heavy bread in my opinion, but I can see how it could be enjoyed by others). I enjoyed it just in its simplicity.
Duck taligatelle - confit with current, brussel sprouts and almond chips, this dish was fantastic...nothing like FRESH pasta (it's a basic expectation from a good restaurant, right?). After the heavy egg-dipped bread from the tartar, I wasn't too thrilled the pasta hid an egg to be mixed, but on another day, I probably would have liked it. Overall though, the pasta was light and delicious, and was almost a pallet cleanser from our heavy, meaty meal.
Glazed pork belly - no doubt we HAD to order this. It was as good as expected (fatty of course, so don't be surprised!), and the accompanying apples were quite delicious. It was the perfect size for the 2 of us to share.
Beef heart and seared scallops -
this was our last dish, but boy, did we save the best for last! I'm glad we didn't sacrifice this in our long list of menu items. It came sort of like a deconstructed salad, but no salad this was (but there were greens!). The beef heart was perfectly seared, softly red in the middle...imagine perfect ahi tuna if you will for the preparation. The delicate, tender flavour was well matched with the seared scallops, seasoned cauliflower and puree. I was so stuffed by the time this dish came (with the pork belly) but I couldn't stop eating! This was definitely our favourite, and most outstanding dish, of the night.

We had a great time at The Black Hoof and were glad we finally made our way there (I'm sorry it took so long!). We have only heard good things from all of you who have stopped in; and yes, it is as good as they say :) It's worth a little adventure out to Dundas West!

The Black Hoof
928 Dundas Street West

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