Black Hoof Cafe
It looks as though the Black Hoof Cafe is opening today! It is across the street from the Black Hoof at Dundas and Grace/Gore Vale. The paper is off the windows and they were writing the menu on the chalkboard this morning. Open for lunch and then for the evening. Can't wait to try it out.
Just came back from brunch there and it was wonderful. The decor is very shabby chic and clean. and thought the space is tiny there were luckily plenty of tables when we rolled in at 12:30pm. The menu is written on a chalkboard and comprises of things like Hoof Hash (made with tongue), Suckling Pig Benny, Rabbit & Buckwheat pancakes and Tongue grilled cheese.
My fiance had the Suckling Pig Benny and I went for it with the Brioche French Toast topped with a slab of foie gras. I got a smile and a "Nice!"from the server when I added the foie gras. Always a good sign when the staff approves of your selection. My fiance had a latte and I got an especially fragrant and floral cup of Earl Grey tea. We sipped our drinks as we watched other's food come out, I sadly saw a few plain french toasts. Then the moment of truth when ours arrived. First off, both dishes were picture perfect, elegant and delicious looking without being overly fussy. The french toast included three pieces of beautifully grilled French toast topped with a perfectly seared piece of foie gras and garnished with ginger peach preserves. I eagerly took my first bite and was in pure bliss. The flakes of sea salt and the foie gras with the just sweet enough French Toast and ginger preserves was sublime. One of the most special meals I've had in a awhile. After nearly finishing mine, I asked for a bite of my fiance's gorgeous suckling pig that had been confited toped with w perfectly poached egg and a pickled jalapeno hollandaise. The side was fresh baby arugula topped with house made pork rinds. The pickled jalapeno gave it just the right amount of kick and really brought the whole dish together.
The staff was gracious and clearly very proud of what they are doing here. Which they should be. As they serve your food they explain what everything is and how it's cooked which is nice as the chalkboard menu is a bit vague. I cannot wait to return to try the rest of the menu!
we went to Black Hoof Cafe for lunch today. i haven't have the gastrointestinal nor mental fortitude to go to Black Hoof for dinner, so I thought that the Cafe may be a good way to try it out.
First, the decor. really cute, lots of natural light, a beautiful eclectic-yet-homey cabinet behind the bar. the walls have a cute wallpaper on it and the lamps above the table are made from mason jars. seating is limited - around 10 tables.
we went just before noon and it wasn't full, which was good for us.
our server was, as described above, incredible knowledgeable and passionate about the food. she spent a lot of time with us, explaining what was in each dish.
i ended up getting the tongue grilled cheese and the Mrs got the Eggs Benny.
i ordered the large freshly-squeezed orange juice to drink.
when our food arrived, the Mrs was immediately jealous of my order. I think that 2009/2010 will the the Year of the Tongue. i tried a sample at Zane's and, the next time i return, i will get a full sandwich. the tongue at Black Hoof is a different type of excellent, but for those who haven't had tongue, the best way to explain it is its a hot meat that melts in your mouth - reminds me of carpaccio, but better. the mix of tongue with the cheeses and dill were excellent. a fabulous sandwich. one bit of advice: if you are like me and curious about all foods but not necessarily brave about all foods - get the tongue sandwich and ignore that its called tongue. it puts smoked meat to shame since its so lean and tender and moist.
the Mrs enjoyed her Eggs Benny, but wasn't doing cartwheels. her favourite part was the home-made biscuit the eggs were on. otherwise, she liked it a lot but didn't drool over it. she did, though, love my tongue sandwich.
i think we have a new winner in Toronto's brunch scene, but its not the kind of place for everyone. i am trying to imagine taking my parents there for brunch and it ain't gonna happen. price-wise, its also not cheap. 2 meals and a juice plus tax and tip: $40.
other notables on the menu:
side-order of pork belly pastrami
the french toast with fois gras ($25 for the meal, so not for those watching their wallet)
my party of 3 were there for lunch today too!
i agree with everything atomeyes says above.
the decor is beautiful and I love the bathroom sinks :0)
I could sit on the ledge of the windows that look out onto Dundas street all day...
The juice was fresh squeezed and the tea is loose leaf.
We ordered 2 suckling pig bennies, the hash and the toast w/ goat butter and jam.
I didn't get the benny but my co-diners thought it was one of the better bennies out there, though not comparable since it's too non-traditional. Of the dish components, they liked the biscuit the least. Comments were that it was too rich, dense and big. They said they would have preferred a smaller or lighter biscuit or an english muffin instead. The hollandaise had a pickled jalapeno in/over it and my one co-diner who normally turns away from pickles in general enjoyed it here. The benny was sided with mustard greens and crackling.
I ordered the hash which is tongue and potatoes and onions cooked with a piquillo pepper sauce. 2 poached eggs are on top with mustard sprouts. The tongue at Hoof is the most tender I've ever had. The beefy flavour is nicely present without being off putting or overpowered by the piquillo sauce. My only complaint is I found it a bit greasy (though I accept it's somewhat the nature of hash...) so I would have liked a bit of toast or more sprouts.
The toast is 4 slices of chewy, crusty baguette (?) that were grilled and sided with goat butter that looks like lard with black salt sprinkled over. The jam is strawberry and a bit gelatinous but perfectly spreadable and not too sweet. I didn't detect much sheepy/goatness in the butter but I liked that it was soft and melty.
Service was also terrific from both knowledgeable servers.
For 3 mains, 1 side, a tea, a coffee, 2 juices (1 lg , 1 sm) it came to $60 after tax and before tip. As mentioned above, it isn't cheap, but I felt the food quality was high enough that I felt the value was there.
I would certainly return as I really want to try the tongue grilled cheese. They also have specials. Today's was blood sausage crepes with quince and quince maple syrup.
Smoked Sockeye to share, Tongue grilled cheese for her, Foie French Toast for me.
Hands down the best breakfast I have had in Toronto. Yes it was $100 after a couple of caesars each but even at that price I would recommend it any day.
Can't wait to go back for the benny, rabbit pancakes, or basically anything else on the menu.
i have been reading about the black hoof cafe since it opened. I was so eager to try it that I went by myself on Friday. It was about 11:30 a.m. and a few tables were taken so I sat comfortably at the bar. Water was served to me immediately. Of course, I didnt need time to see the menu as I knew from twitter what I was I going to have...french toast with foie gras, with brown sugar creme fraiche, apricot/ginger preserves and five spice powder. From the first bite, I was in heaven. It was perfect. Naturally I inhaled it. Paid for the bill and left knowing that I will return soon.
We finally went for brunch yesterday. Bone marrow donuts with cherries inside. Buckwheat and rabbit pancakes. Suckling pig eggs benny with jalapeno hollandaise. French Press with coffee. Dundas Street going by. It was spectacular! I can't think of anywhere with more delicious and interesting food!
I was there on Saturday for a late brunch. Ordered the caesar ($8) which is made w/ a marmite syrup. It was a good caesar although lacking any discernable marmite flavour. Frank's red hot was used instead of tobasco, lacking the vinegary bite of the latter. It could've also used a few extra dashes for spicing. The celery salt/kosher salt rimmed mixture made the drink for me, good quality salt was used.
I sat at the bar, a little tight but I found it comfortable. Clientele was very hipster, just an observation, not holding it against them.
I had the grilled cheese tongue sandwich ($12), which was done very well. The bread had a sweet brioche like quality to it, with grill marks applied. The tongue itself was delicious, machine sliced thinly. The cheese while good, I felt was a tad too mellow. A saltier sharper cheese would've given a stronger sodium kick. There were a few pickles attached to the toothpick holding the sandwich. They were very sweet, while good, it could've used more acidity.
The suckling pig benny ($13) my friend had was a complete home run. Simply put a great dish. Since I only got a taste, it wouldn't be fair of me to write a detailed review.
We also received the bone marrow donuts, the tartness of the cherry filling really did it for me. Another winner.....
Ex cooks from Splendido and Canoe are working the kitchen at the Hoof Cafe, to give you an indication of the level of quality involved. I think it's well worth the price.
I noticed the dinner/bar menu blackboard downstairs when I went to the washroom. Grilled beef hearts!!!!
Thanks for the review-they are on my brunch list for the New Year along with Niagara Street Cafe. I am very weird with any deviations from a classically executed hollandaise, although when I read "pickled jalapeno" along with that suckling pig, I could taste it in my mind. And although I love foie and french toast, I don't think I could handle that at brunch, especially with no acidity to balance things out (unless of course, there is an acid component to the dish). I'm confused about the the bone marrow donut, could you elaborate on the prep? Very, very curious...
re: Splendid Wine Snob
They're basically little balls of fried goodness, sprinkled w/ sugar on the outside. Bone marrow isn't a dominant flavour, cherry is. The marrow just gives it that fatty mouthfeel, keeping the donuts very moist.
The hollandaise is great, one of the best I've tasted in a while. Even though I only got one bite....
Went this past weekend and was quite happy. Will return soon.
Photos, menu, intro/extro:
Supposed to be a strong, earthy pork sausage of pig’s head and skin and a specialty of Lyon. So Google tells me. Reminded me more of breakfast sausage. Came on a bed of lentils, which were pretty tasty. I would say this was our least-favourite dish overall. Not bad, but everything else was just more to our taste.
French Press Coffee
They use 49th Parallel from BC. It’s quite mild/mellow and quite lovely just black, even if you’re a milk ‘n’ sugar kind of person. A perfect drink for a relaxed morning.
Pig Skin Soup
Thick and hearty, reminding us of a French pea soup. Came sided with baguette toast, and instead of butter, some delicious kind of porky fat was spread upon it. I had to refrain from eating it up since this was an early dish and I knew we had more coming…
Rabbit & Buckwheat pancakes
The smell when it hit the table was incredible. Quite a nice dish, but we couldn’t finish it. Chunks of rabbit were embedded within the pancake, but what I loved (and what gave off that heavenly smell) were what I assume are the slightly charred piggy/bacon curls on top. More of that please!
Pig tails ‘n’ grits
Tasting of a mild tomato with a gentle kick. Loved mixing that yolk in and taking a bite of the pork. A hearty and heavy dish. Maybe a bit too heavy for me in the morning with the addition of cheesy grits, though the hit of green onion every now and then helped to break things up.
Tongue grilled cheese
Looking more like a pastrami sandwich, but still really tasty. Lovely grill marks on the toasted challah(?). You can’t really tell from this photo, but the thinly-shaved tongue is piled high. Comes skewered with some sweet pickles. My preference would be some dill pickles instead.
Usually only one marrow per order, we were given two because the first one was small. Since there were three of us, I wasn’t going to complain. Tasty, as always, especially with that hit of Maldon sea salt. So good.
)Pink peppercorn, vodka, marmite syrup, horseradish. It had to be ordered. I kinda felt like it needed more bite. (ASER > Didn't taste the marmite either.) I think I preferred the one at Ceili Cottage (you’ll see it in a future post) better.
I also managed to get a shot of the kitchen and whom I think is Gran Van Gameren prepping sweetbreads.
The Hoof Cafe
923 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6J 1W2, CA
Have been twice in the last week. First time was a Thursday afternoon with a friend and ordered the Benny (him) and the pancakes (me). The Benny was a beautiful dish with moist slices of the suckling pig. Filling without being excessive. (I only had a taste of this).
I found the pancakes delicious, but would have liked a more restrained hand with the syrup that soaked into them. I liked it, especially with the candied mince of celery that surprised me at the bottom of the plate in contrast with the blueberries that practically burst in my mouth and the fatty, frilly bacon curls along with the sprinkle of ricotta (?) and chunks of rabbit. I love sweet-savoury dishes and this really hit the spot.
Second time was a Saturday afternoon. I went with two other friends: french press coffee, pig skin soup, grilled cheese, pancakes, sabodet, pig tails and grits, marrow, and a Caeser.
Pancakes weren't as impressive the second time (maybe the novelty wore off), but were still good. The soup was brilliant, particularly the mixture of textures (gelatinous, fatty, crunchy) and the strong porky background note in what appears to be an unassuming Quebec-style yellow pea soup.
The tongue grilled cheese was a bit of a misnomer for the juicy, spice-infused pastrami-style sandwich that arrived, but a completely delicious one (favourite at the table, hands down). The grits were delicious, but perhaps a little too heavy with the cheese and the fried egg. The pig tail hash/stew was a good accompaniment, but perhaps a trifle too sweet in tomato flavour to really meld with the cheesy grits.
Both times were fantastic and I'm looking forward to eating there again soon.
Tried this out around noon on New Year's day. No line, which my dining companion noted was unusual. We had americanos, the ploughman's breakfast and suckling pig benny. I tried everything on the ploughman platter: the terrine was delicious, meaty, wonderful texture. The brie was so creamy and very light on flavour. I also enjoyed the summer sausage which had a little kick to it. My benny was rich rich rich! I know that someone posted that it wasn't too heavy but I think it was a bit much for my tastes. I might have enjoyed it more if the biscuit foundation was replaced with something lighter and closer to an english muffin. The hollandaise was a bit too creamy for my tastes as well. To give you an idea of the consistency, there was very little spillage: the sauce just kind of sat there as I ate the benny. Eggs were done perfectly, though, and the suckling pig was delicious: salty, tender, satisfying. My companion didn't enjoy the pig - he said that it tasted like liver, a flavour he really doesn't like. I love liver so that was fine by me! The coffee was delicious. Good, efficient and friendly service. SUPER tight space - but very pretty!
Overall, I might come back to try out the tongue sandwich, but I wouldn't say that I'd make it a regular spot. Maybe if I were in the neighbourhood (but the neighbourhood is pretty blessed with brunch spots...)....
The Hoof Cafe
923 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6J 1W2, CA
I just had brunch at the Hoof Cafe this weekend with 2 friends. We were greedy and ordered 2 dishes each. I can honestly say there were no complaints. The place is fairly small so there will most likely be a wait but definitely worth it!
We had: suckling pig benny, pigtails and grits, brioche french toast with foie gras, tongue grilled cheese, pork belly pastrami, ploughman's plate and buckwheat pancakes with rabbit. We wanted the bone marrow donuts with cherry but they were all sold out.
The french toast with foie and the pork belly pastrami were perfect - I can't think of anything negative to say about them. My friends thought the grits were good but not as good as grits they've had in the South but how can we compete with real American grits? Still, the pigtails were delicious and the spicing intriguing and the grits were pretty damn good considering. The benny was wonderful, especially the biscuit on the bottom. The pancakes with rabbit was interesting. The celery at the bottom was a surprise and we thought it was a bit sweet but not so much that we didn't devour it. The ploughman's was good - what can you say about meat, cheese and bread? The tongue grilled cheese was so moist and juicy - for a person who doesn't like sandwiches, I certainly inhaled that one pretty fast.
Truly a fabulous brunch! The food was amazing and the service considerate and friendly. I will definitely return and for those who haven't been yet, what are you waiting for? Go now!
i'm tempted to give this place another go because i only had a limited sampling of the menu, but so far nothing is really drawing me back.
the one thing that i want to know is... did anyone else get cottage cheese in their grits?!? the texture was soupy and little globs of cottage cheese were the only thing that provided any texture and really any of the flavour (noting how flavourless these curds are).
Mine did not:
Not sure if you can tell. Or maybe if you can, and I just didn't notice it the taste.
My recs would be the Hoof Hash and apparently the doughnuts are really good, they're just not on the menu. You'll have to go early enough and ask. So I'm told T_T
yours has similar looking lumps that were cottage cheese to us... i would definitely not say it was too rich for me, bland and liquidy. perhaps there was some cheese change-up.
the service is great. we were offered the donuts the moment we sat down with a warning only 4 orders were left. of course we took them but to me they aren't doughnuts. they were crunchy shells with nicely molten jelly centers. with a doughnut i expect some chewiness and air but the only softness was from the jam and a wet dense dough. tasty, but doughnuts they are not to me.
for clarity, we also had the tongue grilled cheese (i wouldn't complain about the quantity or flavour of cheese, it overwhelmed the tongue and rendered it as filler unless i picked it apart) and the eggs benny (bland, though rich). i did want the hash but realized it when it was too late... and i'm a sucker for a good tongue sandwich, which it would be if the bread wasn't so hard and they toned down the cheese.
anyway.. another time perhaps.
We went on holiday Monday and I'm sad to say I was not blown away, surprised really 'cause my experience across the road has been sublime. It was merely good but not great, some of the food was super, i.e. the French toast with foie. But some of it was just OK, e.g. I found the suckling pig benny to be a disappointment, the biscuit base was dry and lacked the crunch you would get from something toasted and it was pretty weak on flavour, the pork was interesting texturally but again lacked depth of flavour, the eggs slightly overdone. The much talked about bone marrow donuts were all too much about the sugar they were rolled in. I will say that some of the stuff going to other tables really looked amazing and plates were being cleared picked clean.
The real downside for me thought was the service and atmosphere, the room itself is nice and fun, I quite like it, but the music was insane, loud enough that we had to ask the server to speak up to be heard over it, another table asked for it to be turned down, they touched the knob just a bit but that only lasted about 30 seconds. Appropriate for nighttime cocktail service, not for 10:15AM brunch. Our server was a mixed bag, sometimes he was OK sometimes he seemed in desperate need of caffeine or a nap (or both), we kept getting dirty cutlery and glassware, one imagines by the 3rd time you've brought dirty glassware to the same table you might actually start to at least glance before plopping yet another dirty mug, spoon or fork on the table, we ordered a French press pot for the table and when he delivered it seemed to be at a loss as to how long it had been steeping.
There was enough interesting looking stuff on the menu that I'd consider going back for lunch but I don't think the brunch hype is necessarily justified.
I was there the same time as you and I have to agree with your comments about the service. It was very inconsistent (great when we got it but completely neglected for large periods). I quite enjoyed the donuts. I like the contrast the sugar made against the heavy dough batter and the strawberry jam inside. My foie gras & french toast was rich, maybe a bit too rich for me at 10am. Next time I'll wait till 2pm to order that dish again! My guest had the rabbit buckwheat pancakes. We found them fair, a little on the sweet side for our palates. We lean towards the savoury more than the sweet when it comes to entrees. It's a beautiful room. Like Chocabot, I would be happy to spend a lazy afternoon just staring out those windows. The space is wonderful.
For those of you who aren't into the competitive brunch league that is Toronto, I would heartily suggest hitting the Hoof Cafe for drinks and bar snacks at night. I went around 8pm and had the little boneless pork rib snackers that were coated in an addictive brown sugar and smoked pimenton dust. Perfect bar food. We also had some properly sliced serrano ham, a cheese plate, and this great beef collar that had been braised, then moulded into a brick shape and grilled. Delicious.
Drinks were inspired, I had the bacon old-fashioned which went down way too easy. Thoughtful small list of Ontario wines by the glass too.
Place was 2/3 full, and the lighting in there was nice and dim. I'll be going back one evening soon I'm sure.
I've hit it for lunch a few more times.
Once i ordered the hash and a side of pork-belly pastrami.
the hash was good (zane c's is better) but i wasn't blown away. i was still hungry after. nice flavours but nothing to scream "wow" about.
the pastrami, though...wow. i mean...wow wow. two fatty strips of pork belly lovingly covered with a maple glaze. the flavours are intense and wonderful and it melts in your mouth.
I was there last weekend at 1:30 and it was a full house. i orderd the pastrami side and I tried the beans and link. this has been my favourite breakfast to date (tied with the tongue grilled cheese). everything was excellent about it. two home-made spicy sausage links with delicious baked beans, 2 pieces of toast with two sunny-side up eggs and a side of crispy shaved collard greens. i ate it quickly and wanted more to eat. the links were nicely spiced and left a small mouthburn after consumption (which i appreciate). my only complaint - the portions aren't huge. i usually leave not feeling stuffed and could eat a little more. damn my north american eating habits!
i finished my brunch off with a cappucino that was very well executed. probably one of the better caps i've had in a city that's become quite good with its espresso drinks.
still gets my vote as my fave brunch place. by far.