Like a moth to a flame, I’m drawn to The Black Hoof. A deliciously hip restaurant that offers limited seating and no reservations…and wait for it…they serve a menu focused around offal. My favourite. Sadly, it’s approximately 3,500 kilometres from my house. Thankfully, I’ve been visiting Toronto with more frequency lately and was able to grab a table recently.
Arriving quite late, the restaurant was all but empty and allowed the three of us to enjoy fantastic service in every way. Knowing my dining companions do not share the same enjoyment in the odd bits, it took a bit of massaging to finalize the selections. The Black Hoof is all about small plates and sharing, so if your friends don’t want to eat pork liver or sweetbreads, you have to make conciliation’s.
The first dish was Horse Tartare (yes horse) and it arrived beautifully presented on your grandma’s dining plate. A small dish of toasted bread was provided as a vessel to get the tender horse meat into our mouths. I love tartare so much that I make it at home, so it almost goes without saying this was thoroughly enjoyed.
Dish two was my guaranteed crowd pleaser for the table, Bone Marrow. Unless you hate the essence of meat flavour, bone marrow is a plate for masses. Roasted to perfection, it slides out of the bone and spreads on toasted bread like butter. Another dish I make from time to time, I couldn’t help but really enjoy the change from a fresh parsley salad to a chimichurri sauce. Well done!
Up next was the perfect deli sandwich, Tongue On Brioche. The staff suggestion was to remove the skewer from the sandwich and eat the two sides like open faced sandwiches. The rich sauce, buttery brioche, and tender tongue was accompanied by pickles and grainy mustard. I could try and explain how delicious this was, or just suggest that you order one of these for each person in your party. They are that freakin’ good.
Don’t forget they do cocktails really well!
The seasonal Eat Your Vegetables offering was next. I didn’t honestly spend much time on this dish, as one of my dining companions consumed this like a voracious animal. The zucchini, cheese, and nuts made for a nice contrast from the meats and I’m glad they commit to cooking their vegetables to the same standard…but really, I wasn’t here for the vegetables.
If you can look past the fact that our fifth dish – Cochinita Pibil Cochinita PibTacos – wasn’t served with a traditional double taco base, you’d be doing yourself a favour. Tender pig shoulder served with pickled onions, a squeeze of lime and a side of fresh chicharrón. The tacos were a great geographical change for the menu, and again, another dish they can be proud of. I’ve made half a dozen versions of cochinita pibil tacos at home, and one of my favourite recipes comes from Robert Rodriguez who directed Once Upon a Time in Mexico. It’s worth a watch.
With enough room for a handful of plates, we opted on just one as it was almost time to close. The Foie & Pancakes were the perfect finish to this evening. Sweet, soft, fatty, savoury…what more could you ask for. Well, the Captain Crunch ‘esque sprinkles add some much needed texture to the dish and allowed us to leave on a very high note.
Kudos to my dining companions who were game to my adventures and a big thumbs up to The Black Hoof for creating a memorable meal. I’ll be back.