Feed Me: The Black Hoof & Hoof Cafe


Hi there,

It’s been a chaotic couple of weeks and I mean this with the greatest endearance to the frenzy.  After my dad’s birthday, it was followed by an engagement cupcake order, and then jet setting to New Orleans, where I had a whirlwind of a time eating my way through the wondrous beignet- po-boy- andouille-shrimp and grits- fried chicken- et al., city!

However, this is just a teaser of food photos that will soon arrive.  Which reminds me, now that I am slightly behind in my uploading of photos and recipe posting, I figured that I would now include places that I’ve dined at with a few of my tasting notes added in for good measure.

So…Without further ado, please enjoy le food porn that is The Black Hoof and Hoof Cafe in Toronto, Canada.  If the name wasn’t a big enough hint, YES, offal is the name of their game, and a delicious play they make, indeed.

Tongue grilled cheese with creamy brie on impossibly crisp brioche bread. The dill really tied everything together. Its tang and herbaceous pungency enhanced the paper thin tongue meat.

Pork Belly Pastrami- the fatty saltiness is cut with a maple reduction. It was so tasty I paired it with my dessert!

Strawberry Crostata- Unfortunately, I was not blown away by this dessert. Sweets are not their forte. The crust was limp and didn’t have any buttery-ness or flakiness. The filling was almost too jam-y.

Translucent pieces of fluke crudo.

Charcuterie Board- includes duck and porky offerings.

Crispy Pig’s Ear Salad- the only letdown in the dish was that it was swimming in buttermilk dressing.

Pork Belly, Squid, and Melon- a hefty, succulent piece of pork!

Raw Horse Sammy with a raw egg yolk, pungent onions and hot sauce.

Crispy Pork Pita- while my photograph of this does not do the item justice, I felt it a crime not to include it on my photography tour. Crispy, melt in your mouth pork is cradled in a warm pita and vibrant greens.

Sausage and Dumplings-(excuse the horrendous shot) in real life, it was pretty as a picture but I wasn’t a fan of the flavour combinations. The broth had an unpleasant acrid taste to it.

The Malteaser- An upscale brownie sundae- chocolate pate like bar is drizzled with sweet salty sauce and vanilla ice cream. It is garnished with malt-balls for a whimsical finish.

Marinated Olives.

Tongue on Brioche- a variation at the Black Hoof. Here the thinly sliced tongue is nestled between thick slices of brioche and drizzled with a tangy- creamy sauce (my memory is so crummy but I’m suspecting it had horseradish in it). It is garnished with dainty little pickles.

Octopus Salad- I loved the thinly shaved radishes. It had a refreshing taste and the octopus was so tender. I loved the creeping heat the dish provided as well. The crunchy micro breadcubes were an adorable garnish. My only criticism was that it was quite oily.

Green Onion and mushroom ‘salad’- although there was a nice char on the vegetables and the mushrooms had a meaty heartiness to them, the green onions were much too chewy. Even a knife couldn’t cut through the stringy pieces adequately.

Vanilla Cake with a chili sauce and fruity sorbet (it’s been awhile so I forget). The vanilla cake was moist and tender but lacked some creativity. The chili sauce was amazing though. Great interplay of sweet, tangy, and spicy.

Suckling Pig Benny- The soft pulled pork pieces marry well with the perfectly poached eggs. Crack them open to unleash the runny lava onto the luscious meat. The hollandaise was light and bright, as was the salad. It had a springy citrus flavour that married well with the bitter arugula. The pork cracklins’ were the cherry on top of the sundae… so perfectly crispy. Only criticism were the squat and somewhat flavourless biscuits. They were lost in the dish.

Pork and Beans- sweet and salty beans with a maple gastrique is paired with a perfectly seasoned housemade sausage. The fried egg is a vision of beauty and the fried greens are the perfect crunchy contrast to the soft earthy beans. One of my Hoof Cafe favs.

Brioche French Toast- this time with roasted coronation grapes and rosemary. I loved the addition of the savoury herb. It cut through the overwhelmingly sweet dish. If the maple sauce was put on the side I think the fluffy eggy bread’s flavour would shine through better. The coarse raw sugar was unnecessary but I loved the tangy light creme fraiche that was dolloped on top.

Hay Ham- yup it’s cooked in hay (boiled if I’m not mistaken), but unfortunately there was little to no hay flavour imparted. The sharp mustard on the side only masked the flavour of the meat. In the end, this item only tasted like a packaged cold cut. It doesn’t really hold a candle to their pork belly pastrami.

Waffles, Bacon, and Banana- again, quite a sweet dish. The waffle was a bit too dense and I didn’t like the addition of the chocolate chips. It masked the taste of the waffle. The pork belly was a tasty addition and a necessity to cut through the layers of sugar. It was crisp on the sides, had a fatty interior, slightly chewy, and insanely addictive. The caramelized bananas were cooked perfectly, but again, made the dish too sweet, especially when there was ice cream and caramel sauce on the side!

Pigs Tails and Grits- cheesy and creamy grits with a fried pork rectangle made of pig’s tails. It was so visually interesting. You typically don’t see perfect geometric shapes on a plate. The crispy garnish had cornmeal in it and I loved its gritty texture. A charred green onion provided a beautiful contrast in colour and I enjoyed its pungent flavour.

A cross hatched biscuit I ordered on the side to mop up the sauce from the Pigs Tails and grits dish. By itself, you could actually taste the flavour of the flaky, dense-crumbly biscuit.

Beignets stuffed with a rhubarb strawberry jam- You could really taste the buttery brioche from these golden beauties. Best of all, the jam had the perfect amount of sweetness to it.

Pappardelle with giblet sauce- I wish this dish never ended. The fat, wide pieces of housemade pasta helped to cling onto the sauce. There were nuggets of what appeared to be soft gizzard pieces that I happily welcomed. A lightly sprinkling of parm reggiano completed this dish and had me yearning for more.

Tripe and Merguez- This dish was too one note for me. The tomatoes in the sauce overpowered everything else. However, I did enjoy the spongy texture of the tripe and the spicy sausage coins. But, I didn’t like the lean bread paired with it either and the staff graciously accommodated by giving me brioche instead.

Bone Marrow Doughnuts- these yeasted, fluffy delights are made using bone marrow in the dough. The result is a buttery, rich, soft texture (akin to a cake doughnut). Hiding inside these fried, sugar -coated sweets is a nugget of homemade strawberry jam (with rotating flavours). My only criticism is that they are too pint sized for their own good– they were literally thumbnail sized.

Pigs Tails and Grits (revisited)- the hoof cafe changed up one of my favourite dishes and turned the fried porky rectangle into a braised stew. The mile-long, stringy cheese in the grits could compete with the cheesiest pizza any day and win.

Foie Gras French Toast- ok kiddies, this is a pimped out french toast. The seared foie gras has a charred crust and when you cut into it, you get an unctuous and soft-bellied texture. Its melting quality on the tongue and slightest bitterness help to combat all the levels of sweet on this dish. Again, less is more to me and the caramel based syrup as well as the sugar dusted matchstick apples were overkill. I would have been perfectly content with the french toast and foie gras. The cinnamon crema and pomme puree on the sides gave some body to the dish. Both helped to cleanse the palate- the former with its spiced, smooth tang and the latter with its bubbly, refreshing taste.

Blood Cake and Egg- Reminds me of England. The dense squat black sausages are pan seared for a crispy exterior. I detected a slightly onion flavour to them. The light, vinegary maple gastrique here was the perfect finishing touch to counter the richness of both the runny egg and the sausages. Unfortunately I do not remember what the brown, dusty flakes are.

Chicken and Waffles- this was my very first and true FAIL dish from the Hoof Cafe. The chicken was dry and lacked seasoning from the inside-out. The sprinkling of coarse salt on top did not remedy the situation. The waffle was much too dense and it was a poor decision to put mushy cabbage underneath a crisp waffle. Finally, the hot sauce the dish was doused with was sheer overkill. After awhile, all I tasted were textures because the hot sauce completely obliterated my tastebuds.

Brat, Kraut, and Eggs- There was fried spatzle in the dish alongside two perfectly poached and runny eggs. I enjoyed the sourness imparted by the (sauer)kraut. Unfortunately, the sausage was in living blandsville.

That about does it from my end.   I hope you’ve enjoyed my photographic tour of one of my most beloved restaurants in the city.  While some of my criticisms for a few dishes were blunt, it was in no way to be perceived as harsh or mean. Simply put, I do not want to sugar coat things.  I take this philosophy to heart.  Personally, not only does this apply to my baking endeavours but with all the jazz in my life. I appreciate honesty.. after all, how else are we to grow and learn?

 

Hoof Cafe on Urbanspoon
Black Hoof on Urbanspoon

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