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Black hoof or Harbord Room?

I'm planning a night out with my wife for a little celebration. I have been hearing good things about these places. They both sound like destinations for really good food with a casual atmosphere.

I guess I'm curious to hear from people who have been to both (or just one) of these places for a compare/contrast.

Also, since both of these places are small or popular, any suggestions on when to go so as to avoid a lineup would be great. I plan on going either a Friday or Saturday. And if that means going at 5pm, so be it. I have a little girl at home who doesn't want to be babysat for too long.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. These are two of my favourite places these days -- you can't go wrong with either.

    Harbord Room takes reservations, except for at the bar, which is first-come first-served. It is quite difficult to get a reservation on the weekend. We called on a Tuesday and were unable to get a reso for the Saturday. It's slightly more upscale than The Black Hoof and the cuisine is a little more refined. Still, it's very casual and comfortable. A great burger.

    The Black Hoof doesn't take reservations. In feel, it's groovier, more casual. The food is excellent and, given that you list Au Pied de Cochon as one of your faves, you might want to give it a try. There are either no veggie options, or there might be one salad. It is all pretty heavy fare, so if you want options for something lighter, this wouldn't be your best choice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: EarlyDrive

      Thanks. Interestingly, he isn't exactly flattering Au PDC on his latest blog posts.

      Anyhow, I think the hoof is my #1 choice right now. Will do Harbord room at a later date.

    2. I quite like both spots as well. As EarlyDrive has said, it might be tough to get a reservation at Harbord Room on short notice but since you're up for an early reservation, you might get lucky. Note that both restaurants open at 6.

      For me, Harbord Room is more of a restaurant for a meal while Black Hoof is more of a spot for drinks and (substantial) snacks. The food is quite rich at Black Hoof so it's hard to fill up on it in the same way as you can at Harbord Room. Both places are casual and have a vibe. At Harbord Room, we quite enjoy sitting at the bar and if you do arrive at 6, you should have no problems at all getting a spot there.

      1. I'd recommend Black Hoof. As other posters have noted they don't take reservations but the word seems to be that if you're in line by 5:45, and it's just the two of you, you're likely to get a table in the first seating (6PM).

        As EarlyDrive says it is along the same lines as PDC (pork and foie everywhere you look) and interestingly the Black Hoof's chef has a post on his blog about PDC. (hhtp://charcuteriesundays.blogspot.com)

        1. I recently went to Black Hoof and loved it (I'm also a huge PDC fan). However, I agree with the recommendations to get there early if you don't want to wait. When we went, it was around 8 on a Friday (prime time, of course) and we had to wait for over an hour and a half at the bar across the street.

          1. My girlfriend and I went to Black Hoof last October when it first opened (I think.) We got there just before it opened and easily got a seat. Now e'ere thinking about a return visit in a month or so with some relatives from out of town. Unfortunately it would be a Saturday though later in the evening, 10-11pm. How is the lineup around that time? Still bad?

            3 Replies
            1. re: lister

              It will be rammed. Standing room only at that time, I should think...

              1. re: redearth

                not really, it was perfect for us after a film around 10 Saturday. Bar is full (which we wanted - more fun for a twosome) but tables were just starting to fill loosen up a bit.

            2. Getting a reservation at Harbord on a weekend is harder than getting one at the French Laundry!! Is the food really THAT good?

              2 Replies
              1. re: Charles Yu

                I think because the resto is really THAT small

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  I've been to the Harbord Room several times and it's consistantly excellent. But it's a very small room, probably less than ten tables and has a big buzz right now so hard to get a weekend reservation. We stopped in last month on a Sunday after 9 trying to grab a seat at the bar and the place was jammed solid.

                  Have not been to Black Hoof, not a big fan charcuterie.

                2. Harbord Room, is my vote. the food is always excellent. I have eaten there more than a dozen times and never been disappointed. As well it has a very romantic atmosphere, pink walls and candle light!

                  1. I have never been to Hoof, so can't compare, but I loved harbord room. Bonus points for great music and great onatrio based wine list, on top of the city's best burger and salmon that was prepared with care and flavour and a beet/green salad that made those plebian ingredients taste divine!
                    That being said, I hear they have a sweet patio come summertime, so you could save your outing for then if hoof really floats your boat?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: LemonLauren

                      Hmmm....tough decision! I have been to both and while both serve deliciously good food I would have to say that Harbord Room edges out in that in that 1) you can get a reservation by calling ahead 2) decor is slightly better and they have a ventilation system or at least you won't ge bothered by one if you go the black hoof (gets quite smokey inside). Save the Black Hoof for another visit when you're in the mood for meat, meat, meat in casual surroundings.

                      1. re: deabot

                        We called for a reservation for a group of 6 for Harbord Room and were told nothing was available until mid-April. Not sure if that wait applies to a couple.

                        1. re: jamesm

                          I think it's harder to get a reservation for a bigger group just because The Harbord Room is so small. Last week I called on Thursday for a reservation for 2 on Friday and was able to get in. Mind you, it was at 9:30.

                    2. Ok, I'll be going next Saturday. To the...Black Hoof. Although Harbord Room seems really cool, and I will try it, the Hoof is calling my name. My wife wasn't too enthused, but I told her that foie gras is well represented on the menu (it is, right?), so that will make her happy.

                      Cheers, and I'll post a quick review.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: grandgourmand

                        Hmm, I was there a couple of weeks ago and I don't specifically remember foie gras on the menu but I could be wrong. I know it's been on in the past and that they change the menu pretty often.

                        1. re: peppermint pate

                          I had it in terrine form - not seared (they don't have the facilities to do it that way). It was a duck-liver - and came on the cold meat platter.

                          1. re: estufarian

                            They do have the facilities to do it that way - Grant often has seared foie on the menu. I've had it several times, and it has always been excellent and a good-sized portion. Whether he has it on the menu now, I don't know...

                            1. re: redearth

                              i had it seared on a toasted brioche two weeks ago - delish!

                            2. re: estufarian

                              they do do it, it just gets awfully smokey if done since they lack restaurant grade ventilation.

                              Might want to take that into consideration if smoke/residual smell on clothes post meal bothers you.

                          2. re: grandgourmand

                            I went last night and they had foie gras with brioche.

                          3. Ok, so my wife and I went to Black Hoof on Saturday. Showed up at 6pm, no problems at all getting seated. I asked one of the servers, and she said it's inconsistent and that sometimes its jammed from the opening.

                            Anyhow, on with the food. Overall, I'll just say it was a really good experience and an excellent night out.

                            The standout dish was the raw horse sammy. It's a diced raw horse, topped with a raw egg yolk, some sliced shallots and a spicy sauce on slices of bread. Delicious. I really enjoyed the clean flavour of the horse. Not too much going on there, meant in a good way. If anything, maybe the shallots could have been lightly pickled.

                            The foie gras on brioche was very good. Nothing that blew my mind away. "Just" the rich mouthfeel of foie gras, which is always appreciated.

                            We ordered the large charcuterie board. Nice stuff. The standout was a thinly sliced pickled lamb's tongue.

                            the cheese platter was just ok.

                            Had three different beers. Dogfish Head IPA at $6 a bottle is a good deal. Labbatt 50 at $4.25 (which I didn't order) is an excellent touch. County music right up my alley.

                            Thanks again for all your input. A really good spot. Will check Harbord Room next, but not for comparison as they are different kinds of places.

                            FYI, the Black Hoof will have a patio with about 10 seats. Not sure if that means 10 tables or capacity for 10.