I wasn’t the only one who was devastated after the popular Hoof Café closed its doors in 2011. When Jen Agg (@TheBlackHoof), owner of the trio of Hoof restaurants, tweeted at the end of January that brunch was back, I knew a visit was in order.
Hoof Café used to be located in the space that now houses Cocktail Bar (which has amazing cocktails, by the way). Its resurrection is now in the form of a permanent pop-up (confusing, I know!) at Raw Bar. Brunch is served from Thursday to Sunday starting at 10am. The service ends at 3pm from Thursday to Saturday and 4pm on Sundays.
Like all the other Hoof restaurants, they don’t take reservations and they only take cash and Canadian debit only. So come prepared.
Their famous nose-to-tail style of food is evident in their brunch menu…classic Hoof style!
For something a little boozey to start off the meal, we ordered the Brunch Punch. It’ll cost you $16 for two. The serving for two came in a small mason jar and along with two cute little cups. The punch is available in increments of up to 8 but it doesn’t get any cheaper if you order more.
I couldn’t resist ordering the Blood Sausage McMuffin ($6) which came wrapped up in checkered paper. It would make a great take-out sandwich!
The breakfast sandwich consisted of a fried egg, a thick slice of blood sausage and arugula all sitting between an English muffin. The blood sausage was nice and moist – not dry and crumbly like some others I’ve had and the whole sandwich was packed full of flavour.
I assure you, if I didn’t have to share this with two other people, I would’ve inhaled the entire thing. My only complaint would be the egg – which I think would’ve been better if it was a little runnier and not fully cooked through.
For my main, I decided on the Fried Sweetbreads n’ Waffles ($16). I love a good sweet and savoury combination and this dish certainly hit the spot.
The plump sweetbreads had a nice batter and were well seasoned. The thick waffle was crisp on the outside and was fluffy on the inside. The spicy syrup and jalapeno butter helped tie it all together into one delicious dish.
I also ordered a side of House Bacon ($5) which came with three thick slices. They were the perfect accompaniment for my sweet waffle.
Mike ordered the Heart n’ Eggs ($12). The “eggs” of the dish consisted of bone marrow scrambled eggs presented playfully in a bone. I don’t think I’d be able to say that I could taste the bone marrow in it or know for sure that it was in there, but the scrambled eggs were rich, creamy and perfectly cooked.
The other half of the dish consisted of sliced pieces of tender beef heart dotted with a chimichurri sauce. Another really fantastic dish!
Our friend Brandon ordered the Tongue Benny ($14). Thin slices of tender beef tongue were topped with perfectly poached eggs and a rich, flavourful hollandaise. Instead of English muffins, they used some kind of delicious bread as the vehicle.
I also enjoyed the addition of the grainy mustard and the topping of dill. I only had two bites and it left me wanting more! The benny came with a bowl of arugula salad topped with pine nuts which we didn’t get around to eating very much of.
Whenever I dine with people, they always like to leave the ordering up to me fully knowing I have a tendency to over order. So yes, I knew we had eaten a lot of food already but I had to order the Fruit n’ Nut Challah Toast ($10 or $25 with foie gras) for dessert.
The fruit n’ nut bread used was on the dense side (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) and on its own would be a solid French toast dish. However, the addition of the foie gras was what really gave it that extra oomph.
With each bite, I made sure to get a bit of the buttery foie gras, some syrup and a bit of the light whipped cream. A perfect end to a brunch that was even better than I remembered!
At a glance:
• Permanent pop-up at the Hoof’s Raw Bar space
• Brunch is served Thursday to Sunday from 10am (till 3pm Thurs to Sat; till 4pm on Sun)
• Cash and Canadian debit only; no reservations
• Nose-to-tail style brunch; classic Black Hoof-style
• You’ll find heart, blood sausage, sweetbreads and tongue on the menu
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4.5 stars
• Service: 3 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars