When you hear bone marrow, tongue or brain, the word “food” probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. The Black Hoof is a restaurant that specializes in charcuterie and other not-so-popular animal parts. It’s not a place for vegetarians, weak stomachs, and definitely not if you’re squeamish (well, squeamish in the sense of consuming parts of an animal that aren’t normally served in restaurants in North America).
Located just south of Little Italy on Dundas West, The Black Hoof has made a name for itself as patrons are willing to wait for up to 2 hours for a table (or a bar stool). I’ve actually been to this restaurant once before and briefly mentioned my “foodgasmic” experience to my cousin. I guess I must have been pretty convincing since she kept asking me to take her to this restaurant. So I decided to introduce her to a gourmet offal experience last weekend.
Since The Black Hoof doesn’t take reservations, we arrived at the restaurant at 6:30pm hoping for a shorter wait. By the time we arrived, the restaurant was already packed and the hostess informed us that the wait will be about an hour long. She took down my cell number and suggested that we go across the street to enjoy a cocktail at Hoof Cafe (their sister restaurant) while we wait for our table. Since we really didn’t feel like wandering too far off and the fact that there really isn’t anything else in the area, we decided to head over to Hoof Cafe.
Hoof Cafe is a small restaurant that has a similar theme as The Black Hoof… but for breakfast! A slice of foie gras with my omelette, you ask? YES PLEASE!
Just like The Black Hoof, their menu is written on a chalkboard and consisted of items like beef tongue grilled cheese, foie gras omelette, bone marrow (yes, just “bone marrow”), etc. The ambiance was warm and inviting. I would describe the decor to be “retro chic” – with aluminum ceiling panels and mouldings, distressed medicine-cabinet-like cupboards, and 70’s inspired wallpaper.
At the bar I ordered a German wheat beer and my cousin ordered some kind of “rose” cocktail. The drink was quite good. It actually reminds me of a margarita because it was a little tart with just a touch of saltiness.
And since we were both pretty hungry already, we decided to order something small to tie us over until dinner. We looked at the menu and decided to order “The Love Letter” – it’s raviolis stuffed with beef tongue and pastrami, topped with shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano, sage, and turnip with a brown butter sauce.
These raviolis were quite delicious. Although I really couldn’t tell if there was beef tongue in the filling, the saltiness of the pastrami paired very well with the sweetness the turnip.
Shortly after we finished our raviolis, I received a call from the hostess letting us know that our table was ready. So we quickly finished our drinks and head back over to the restaurant.
When we arrived we were seated at the bar. The Black Hoof had a slightly different feel than Hoof Cafe – it had more of an industrial/60’s diner feel to the restaurant.
The Black Hoof’s claim of fame is their charcuterie – everything is made in-house using only quality ingredients. For those of you who don’t know what charcuterie is, it’s basically a method of curing and preserving meats. I’m personally not an expert on charcuterie and my exposure to charcuterie is rather limited. However, I thought The Black Hoof’s version was pretty good.
The waiter suggested we start our tasting from left to right. The left consisted of cured meats that tasted the mildest and the right, the strongest. A small dish of pickled vegetables was provided to help cleanse the palate in between tasting. On the charcuterie board (we ordered the small) there were foie gras mousse, salami, cured duck breast, capicollo, prosciutto, horse baloney, and others. I enjoyed the foie gras mousse the most because it was velvety smooth and very rich in flavour.
The second dish that we ordered was the roasted bone marrow. I know what you’re thinking, why would anybody want to eat bone marrow?
This is a dish that I would order every time. The bone marrow was roasted and served with a small dish of sea salt and a few pieces of brown toasts. The best way to eat it is to sprinkle the sea salt over the bone marrow, scoop it out using a spoon and spread it over toast. It may not be the prettiest dish and the consistency can be a little off putting for some (i.e., a little jelly like). But the taste is phenomenal – rich, fatty, salty, delicious. The sea salt really helped bring out the flavour of the marrow.
The next dish that arrived was the Tongue on Brioche drizzled with mustard tarragon mayonnaise.
When you think of tongue, you probably wouldn’t imagine anything like this. The tongue was very moist and tender and was shaved paper-thin. The sandwich reminds me of the Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich… but better. The presentation was visually appealing and the portion was generous. I couldn’t really taste the tarragon, but I could definitely taste the mustard. Although I thought the BBQ sauce on the side was an afterthought and a bit of a distraction.
And finally, the dish that I’ve been waiting for all evening – Foie & Blood Sausage. The first time I’ve ever had pan-seared foie gras was at Böehmer. And as I recalled, I didn’t find the texture nor the taste (too gamey) to be all that appealing to me. So after that experience, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this preparation again…until now.
The Foie & Blood Sausage was served on a couple of toasted brioche with rutabaga puree and maple syrup. I didn’t care for the blood sausage, I thought it was well prepared but I wasn’t floored by it whereas the foie gras, on the other hand, was simply divine. The foie gras was perfectly seared on the outside and the saltiness of the liver was in perfect harmony with the sweetness of the rutabaga puree and maple syrup. And when you take bite of the foie gras, it literally melts and dissolves in your mouth – it was heavenly.
Our meal at The Black Hoof wasn’t exactly the healthiest as it consisted of a lot of meat and fat. Not to mention the entire meal was pretty high in sodium. But hey, we only live once and I figure my obsession with spinning will eventually balance things out (well, that’s what I keep telling myself). So for those of you who are carnivorous, want to try something slightly more adventurous, and don’t mind waiting for a table, then go check out The Black Hoof for yourself.
The Black Hoof
Address: 928 Dundas St. West – M6J 1W3
The Hoof Café
Phone: 416. 792.7511
Address: 923 Dundas St. West – M6J 1W2