Having previously had a great experience at Black Hoof (@TheBlackHoof) a year ago, I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to come back.
Black Hoof specializes in the odd bits of animals. Here, you’ll find the likes of bone marrow, liver, tendon and sweetbreads. But not to worry – one bite of their food and you’ll forget what part of the animal you’re eating.
The restaurant, located on Dundas between Bathurst and Ossington, is quite narrow and doesn’t seat very many. Coupled with the fact that they don’t take reservations, I recommend coming early and in a small group. If you’re stuck waiting for a while, you can always walk across the street to the Hoof’s Cocktail Bar to grab a drink. They make a damn good cocktail.
We started with the must-order House Cured Meats ($19). You can’t leave the Black Hoof without ordering this if you’re a fan of cured meats – they’ve got the best in the city!
Oh, and you certainly get your money’s worth here. Almost every part of the board is covered with meat. I can’t recall every component of the board but to name a few, it includes chorizo, mortadella, capricola and beef heart pepperoni.
They don’t provide you with complimentary bread but if you’re ordering the cured meats, I recommend ordering a side of Bread ($2 small/$4 large) to go with the meats.
The next dish that arrived was the Pork Carnitas Tacos – with tomatillos and guacamole ($11). It came served with pieces of pork crackling (can’t say no to crackling!) and some hot sauce.
Unfortunately the tacos were a big letdown. They were just missing something… With so many great taco options in the city (i.e. Grand Electric, La Carnita), I’d skip the tacos here and save room for their other amazing dishes.
Last time I was here (see post here), they had taken their famous horse sandwich off their menu given the bad press horse meat was getting. This time, they brought the meat back in the form of Spicy Horse Tartare ($16). While it’s a little leaner than beef, I found it to be quite similar in texture and taste to beef. Without knowing it was horse, I probably wouldn’t have known.
The dish came with dollops of delicious caper hollandaise and a bed of crisp potato matchsticks which gave it all a nice crunch. It was a solid tartare but I would’ve preferred a bit more spice as it was advertised as “spicy” horse tartare.
Next up was the Liver & Onions ($14). This was actually Mike’s choice since I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this dish but boy did it blow us all away. The liver came in the form of a mousse and came with plump cipollini onions and hen of the woods mushrooms. The creamy mousse was simply perfection and the mushrooms gave the dish a nice earthiness. One of my favourite dishes of the evening!
We also ordered the Smoked Sweetbreads ($16). My experiences with sweetbreads have been hit and miss but Black Hoof’s sweetbreads were definitely a hit! They were lightly breaded, fried and served with a tasty buttermilk sauce. The sweetbreads were topped with some greens which provided some much-needed freshness. For those of you who are afraid of trying sweetbreads, rest assured, they taste pretty similar to chicken!
Having enjoyed the Tongue on Brioche ($14) so much last time I was here, I insisted that we ordered it. The dish comes with a generous portion of tongue sandwiched between two thick slices of brioche. The sandwich is presented sideways and skewered in the middle. On the side, you’ll find some grainy mustard and pickled celery (love this!) to complement the sandwich.
The tongue was thinly sliced and simply melted in my mouth like last time. However, this time around, I found it a touch too tart (perhaps from the sauce). While still good, it wasn’t quite as mind-blowing as my previous experience.
To end off the meal with something sweet, we ordered their famous Foie & Nutella ($25). It consisted of a piece of seared foie gras sitting on top of a slice of baked banana bread which had the rich consistency of bread pudding. Nutella covered the plate and crumbled hazelnut shortbread cookies covered the dish.
Foie gras certainly makes for a great dessert! The buttery texture of the foie paired surprisingly well with the sweetness of the chocolate and banana bread. You’ve just gotta try it! I don’t recommend trying to tackle this one on your own though… given that everything here is so rich, you might have to be carried out of the restaurant.
With amazing food like this, it’s no wonder the Black Hoof is known by many in the city as one of the must-eat places in Toronto!
At a glance:
• Known for serving up the odd bits of the animal
• The house cured meats are a must-order
• No reservations
• Small space; arrive early or come with a small group
• Cash and debit only
• Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4.5 stars
• Service: 4 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars