Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Memorable Experience At The Black Hoof

Fellow foodie Cindy and I visited The Black Hoof back in December. It was her birthday, and as foodies, there was no way that such celebration can take place at an ordinary restaurant.Cindy suggested The Black Hoof, and asked me if I was OK with food that is more out there...maybe like internals, bone marrow, fried brains, etc. I told her I was totally down for that. I read some reviews before going to The Black Hoof (they don't have a website, but the owner, Grant van Gameren, has his own blog). And wow was I impressed! Toronto Star gave it 4 out of 4 stars - its critic said that he was "in love with the restaurant", the Globe and Mail claims that the restaurants serves "the most exciting meat Toronto has ever tasted", and EnRoute Magazine placed The Black Hoof at #2 for "Canada's 10 Best New Restaurants for 2009". So after reading all that, not only was I "down", I was outright excited and counting down to the days till we go.

We went on a Saturday night around 6pm (it does not take reservations and the restaurant is tiny). We actually walked past it because the restaurant does not have a sign outside (and in December, its already pretty dark at 6pm). The only indication that a restaurant existed there was the word "charcuterie" on the front tent cover above the restaurant. The place was full already (not surprised given the rave reviews) and it was just our luck that there were two seats available at the bar. I ordered a martini right away to get things going.

I don't remember what this was. I just remember that
it was average
It was actually pretty cool sitting at the bar because we were so close to the action in the kitchen. All the other tables are tucked away at the back. 

The kitchen right in front of us in plain view.

Notice they only use a 4-burner household range

So there was no way that we were not going to order charcuterie (needless to say the cured meats are all made in-house). Actually, now that I think about it, that night was the first time I had such a wide variety of cured meats in one sitting. I'm so spoiled now! After that night, charcuterie is almost a must-order thing for me if it's on the menu. And to make things worse, having it the first time at The Black Hoof makes charcuterie at any other place afterwards a disappointment. 

Heavenly! Horse sausage, foie gras mousse, venison brasaola,
duck prosciutto, pancetta, salami and chorizo.
 I especially loved the
duck liver mousse. The seedy mustard was also a nice touch. 

We ordered a side of Thuet bread to compliment our meats

The Roasted Bone Marrow was next. Oh such fatty goodness! It was so gooey and slimy (really no better words for it). It literally slides into your mouth! There's a plate of Malden sea salt that you can add to the bone marrow as well.

Then came the Raw Horse Sammy - my favorite that night. I've never had raw horse before - I had beef carpaccio and beef sashimi yeah, but never horse. Even so, I've never seen or had raw red meat presented like this - piled together and placed high on a piece of bread with a raw egg on the top (instead of having it thinly sliced on a plate) . After taking a bite into this sammy though, all my past experiences with "sashimi", of any kind, went down the drain. This raw horse was simply the best. Hands down.

Notice that the hot sauce spells "HORSE" on the piece of bread

Next, we had the Tongue On Brioche (Veal Tongue) - my second favorite that night. The meat was so soft, tender, and juicy! 

By then, our main courses were all done and it was time for dessert. Although we were full, we still ordered it, in a way to cleanse our palette after all that meat (notice that no veggies were present the whole night except for the tiny pickles). The dessert was Bread Pudding with Smoked Ice Cream drizzled with Caramel Sauce. The ice cream was really cool - it really had a smoky flavor to it.

I wish they gave us more ice cream

It is evident that The Black Hoof does not appeal to everybody. I think Blogto says it best:

"Warning: this restaurant is not suitable for herbivores (unless you're content eating bread and cheese for dinner), the faint at heart (think piggy ears and bone marrow), if you suffer from high cholesterol, if you have no patience (we waited an hour for a table at an unknown bar across the street that had no heat) or if you have no money (cash and debit only)."

I really really want to go back soon. Even that night, were weren't even close to trying half of dishes they had on the menu (their small menu changes often, and can have things like blood sausages, duck confit, braised pork belly pastrami, lamb headcheese, pig get my drift). With such good food and reasonable prices (mains $10-$22), I would take The Black Hoof over fine-dining any day!

Black Hoof on Urbanspoon