Toronto: the Black Hoof
Posted by Degan on April 11th, 2011
The storefront says simply “Charcuterie” on a plain looking awning on an unassuming street. It would have been possible to miss it – if it hadn’t been on my radar since winning EnRoute’s Best New Restaurant 2009, if I hadn’t been drooling over their meaty tweets, if we hadn’t been waiting down the block for them to open. As it was, I got the opening time wrong and ended up killing an hour in a vegan restaurant up the street (the only one thing open that would take debit but the irony was not lost on us). When we came back around at ten minutes to six, there was a line. No one was missing this place.
The Black Hoof is all about meat. Even their name comes from the crème de la crème of meat products – the pata negra, or jamón ibérico. We didn’t have any jamon on this trip, but they make over 40 kinds of charcuterie along with other delicious warm protein dishes that would make the patrons of the vegan restaurant across the street cringe. The chalkboard selection momentarily overwhelmed us so I turned my attention to the cocktail menu where my choice of a Ghostly Negroni (gin, aperol, lillet and absinthe) was so delicious and well-balanced that I kept ordering them until I was wobbly -a feat that didn’t take long with all that alcohol.
And so then, the meat. The food menu is a little less well-balanced than the cocktail, but no complaints here. We ordered a charcuterie plate which came with blueberry bison salami, duck prosciutto, horse mortadella, capricollo, wild boar salami and chorizo. Then the bone marrow with chimichurri, foie gras parfait with blood orange marmalade and steak tartare (sadly beef on our visit, although I’ve heard many things about their horse tartare). Good thing for the chimichurri because I think that and a radish on the tartare was it for vegetables.
But it was so good! The charcuterie was so flavourful that it felt like we exclaimed over every bite and there are enough pictures of the platter that I think we could do a time-lapse video of us cleaning it. Matt found a couple of the other dishes too rich – we definitely didn’t hold back – but scraping the bone marrow out onto some rye toast is a joy I won’t soon forget. The foie was a bit of a slog to get through at the end of the meal but the blood orange marmalade was a nice touch, cutting through the fat in the same way that Chambar‘s sour cherry granita does.
It’s amazing to me that they have managed to fit it all – and all those people! – into a tiny kitchen with an old school electric stove. I’ll definitely be back but in the interim I’m back home reminiscing – and eating salad.
The Black Hoof is at 928 Dundas Street West, Toronto. Cash and Canadian debit only.