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Big changes in Hoof Land

All the details are here:


But to summarize

Cafe to close, last service Feb 28

In it's place will be a new resto, Black hoof & Company

18 seats, reservations taken, tasting menus only, Thursday to Saturday only

Colin Tooke will take over as chef of the Hoof

Something like this was inevitable and it's in many ways preferable to what I was actually expecting, which was a complete shutdown of both places and a reboot in a new space.

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  1. so early a change to the Top 10 List!

    1. not sure how to feel about this....

      from brunch, the Hoof Cafe is excellent.

      for evening snacks, its pretty good.

      for alcoholic bevvies, its excellent.

      I just hope the new venture doesn't jump the shark. i wish them luck and, assuming the price point isn't ridiculous, i'll hopefully be one of the first to try things out!

      1. I'm excited for this to happen, for sure...

        Any word on when BHCO will open? The article doesn't seem to give an indication, vague or otherwise...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Chipp

          Beggining of the 3rd paragraph "In April"

          1. re: bytepusher

            Thanks - clearly I was skimming too fast when reading this news!!!

        2. They're becoming respectable. Good for them! I despised the disaster that was the Hoof - waiting for your table for 90 minutes is oh-so-ten-years-ago.

          1. I'm sad, the Cafe is my favourite place. I liked how I could just pop in and make a meal of snacks, plus it was a good spot for post-dinner drinks and dessert too. Wonder if Black Hoof's menu might add in some of the snacks? It'll be interesting to see how the tasting menus turn out though.

            1. This is going to be an interesting one to watch, as much as the original Hoof was something new to the city when it opened I think this is going to be even more unlike anything else we have here both in cuisine and approach to running a restaurant. Intentional or not, in practice the BHCO name is in effect an inside reference to Momofuku Ko, which whether Grant realizes this or not (but I have to believe he does) is the template for what he's trying to do here.

              So a few predictions

              a) this will not be cheap, he needs to pay the bills on the whole enterprise while only serving, at the outside max, 104 customers a week, I'm expecting a price point well north of $100 per person before booze, all costs in a dinner for two will be in the Hashimoto territory, maybe not immediately but if it works it will creep up there within a year.
              b) The reservation process will be unlike anything we are used to, I doubt they'll go as far as the Ko system but expect a very rigid system and probably for the first time I'm aware of here a policy of billing no shows. For every complaint you've ever heard about them not taking reservations you can expect to hear 3 about the reservation system once it's in place, be careful what you wish for.

              3 Replies
              1. re: bytepusher

                Hashimoto territory? that is $300 per person for the base price. I really don't think so.

                1. re: bytepusher

                  Splendido (under the old regime) had instituted a policy of billing for no shows in their latter years. So when you made your reservation they took your credit card and advised you a "no show" would result in a $50 per person charge. My husband and I were the unfortunate diners who sat beside a table who complained strenuously about the policy and Yannick Bigourdan spent the entire evening returning to their table to continue to argue in favour of/justify the policy. I was amazed that someone of his experience didn't know a genteel way of shutting down the subject and, at $500+ for our evening, it was ruined. We never went back until Bigoudan/Lee moved on to Note Bene.

                  88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

                  1. re: CocoTO

                    Replies regarding billing for no-shows have been split over to our Not About Food board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/763760

                2. I'm both sad/excited. Damn. Need to get a seat at the Cafe for brunch before it goes... (yeah, me and everyone else)!

                  1. Overall, I'm a bit disappointed. But given the circumstances, I don't blame them one bit. This isn't a customer friendly move, it's a move that makes their lives (justifiably) less insane. Open 3 days, 18 seats. No choices for customers. Better kitchen. That's a chef's wet dream. And they'll likely be able to get away with it. Good for them.

                    When I read the blog post, I automatically thought what bytepusher mentioned - Momofuku Ko. Guessing it will be just as hard to get a reservation. I just wish they had at least 2 other restaurants (e.g. noodle bar and ssam bar) to offer instead of just one.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: miketoronto

                      Other than small + reservation, I don't see how it's like Ko, but I guess time will tell.

                      I will miss the Hoof Cafe, but am always up for a change and this one sounds exciting.

                      1. re: EarlyDrive

                        and no choice or next to no choice. There's no a la carte at either restaurant.

                        1. re: miketoronto

                          good point. it's not like there is a la carte as well as the tasting menu, as there often is. Let's hope it's as delish -- the shaved frozen foie with lychee....c'mon!

                    2. kinda funny all the time and energy that has gone into the website...

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: shekamoo

                        Why is it funny? They didn't have one for the longest time, and it looks really nice.

                        1. re: ikapai

                          i was referring to the fact that the website was 'born in obsolescence'

                          1. re: ikapai

                            It's funny because right from the start they really could have had a simple one page web site where you could look up stuff like "what are the hours" but instead for almost 2 years we just had to guess while they jerked around looking for a web designer who "got them" promising a web site "soon" at least three times. So we finally get that web site, full of unnecessary but amusing stuff and a couple months later most of the stuff they spend all that time and money and customer annoyance on is on it's way out. Unlike a black fly in your Chardonnay it is actually ironic.

                            1. re: bytepusher

                              I agree that they could have had a more simple site done up much sooner, but I don't agree that "most of the stuff" is obsolete or on its way out. All of the information regarding the original Black Hoof is still valid, since that restaurant isn't changing. The only thing that will have to change is information about the cafe.

                              The Black Hoof
                              928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                              1. re: ikapai

                                The original Hoof is getting a new chef , yes he works there already but it's hardly "no change", and honestly you don't think most of the best staff from the Hoof aren't going to wind up at BHCO instead?

                        2. I can't help but wonder how many people are now going to Copenhagen because of Noma. Other than Eigensinn Farm, which is difficult to get to, Toronto doesn't have anything which stands out as unique. Maybe when Susur had Lotus, where the room was small and the food was coming from the chef's hand, did we have chefs coming from New York to Toronto to see what was happening. We could use a restaurant like Hashimoto but more born from here. My hope is that this new venture fills that void.

                          601 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: dubchild

                            I'm tremendously excited for this move. I was lucky enough to meet Grant and he's an extremely driven person. I can only imagine the great things that will come out of this new venture. For now, I'll control my patience by paying my last respects to the Hoof and eagerly looking ahead to see what great food is coming down the pipeline!

                            1. re: table4onthefly

                              the Mintz blog piece confused me.
                              i assumed Grant was the brains behind everything, but it seems like its a dish-by-committee venture.
                              so other than the charc., what does Grant cook/create?

                              1. re: atomeyes

                                This is a question only he could fully answer. Having said that, a friend went to see Rene Redzepi speak. He said the cooks at Noma present their dish for the team to try and if it works, it goes on the menu. This is common practice in many industries. I imagine Grant is the creative heart behind the operation who determines if a dish fits the vision. I've never had the sense that the Hoof was a jumble of different dishes, a cut and paste job. Why I have hopes for their new venture is because they offer a unique, unified, and cohesive vision. Rene Redzepi has tapped into the restaurants logic which has come from him but is also bigger than him. My belief is that we are witnessing Grant harness a similar magic.

                                1. re: dubchild

                                  All credit to Grant - but wasn't it JEN that had the original idea and advertised (Craig's List?) for a chef to help bring this to fruition (meatition?). Not attempting to minimize Grant's contribution, rather give credit for the whole concept where it may be due.

                                  And the Redzipi comparison is spurious (again no disrespect to him). He has a chef (chefs?) who is specifically tasked with researching new recipes, and then presents them. It's not like one of the chefs 'invents' a dish out of the blue in her spare time. Indeed, that chef specifically told us his role when presenting one of his dishes, when we were at Noma.

                                  Agree with you that I hope we see more 'magic'.

                                  1. re: estufarian

                                    "wasn't it JEN that had the original idea and advertised (Craig's List?) for a chef to help bring this to fruition (meatiition?)."


                                    that's how the story goes on the website: http://theblackhoof.com/the-story/

                                    1. re: estufarian

                                      I guess the line that people object to is “I imagine Grant is the creative heart…” This is, as stated, what I imagine and it refers to the dishes. It is quite possible that Jen has the final say if a dish fits the vision, or that Jen and Grant have a say, or that the whole team has a say, or any number of combinations. What is or isn’t the case is sometime they would have to answer. The fact that Jen placed and add for a charcuterie chef doesn’t tell us anything other than that. I suspect she got much more than just someone who does charcuterie and being a smart businessperson has allowed him the freedom to grow.

                                      As for the whole concept, for me the Black Hoof is much more than charcuterie. My last meal was probably only 50% offal or charcuterie. In my opinion what the Black Hoof has become something that can’t be clearly pigeonholed. My overly romantic notions are that the Black Hoof is an entity born from its parents but now dictates its own logic. Good art is kind of like children. It takes an immense amount of talent on everyone’s part at that restaurant to give substance to that logic.

                                      That my comparison to Noma was wrong doesn’t change the spirit of my original post. Many organization, restaurants or otherwise, have innovators programs in which products or suggestions are invented out of the blue in their spare time. Clearly the Black Hoof is such an organization. It seems fair to me, in such an organization, that Grant be called the chef if he is the one who has the most say on what goes on in the kitchen, or as I would word it, the one who is closes to that logic.

                                      The Black Hoof
                                      928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                                      1. re: dubchild

                                        Nicely said.

                                        I also disagree with the pigeonholing of "offal' or just charcuterie. There is quite a bit more to it than that. It's part of it, but only part. It's not a place that can be narrowcast.

                              2. re: dubchild

                                I agree, dubchild. Best case scenario is that this gives Jen and Grant the canvas that they've been waiting for. My experiences at the hoof and hoof cafe have been mixed---though my last two visits to hoof cafe (one brunch, one dinner) were pretty spectacular, so I'm a little sad that my favourite part is getting the axe. I'm also skeptical about a new restaurant offering tasting menus emerging out of a (fairly) modestly priced one, focused squarely on offal. Whatever side of the "reservations and civility are dandy" vs. "no reservations means cheap eats and plenty o' drink for us under 30's" divide you fall on, you have to admit that many people see a significant gap. Some customers will be lost, and some gained, in such a switch. Despite what an earlier poster claimed (and many, no doubt, wish), waiting around for a table is more popular than ever (cf. Sam Sifton's recent NYT post about advice for taking manhattanites to dinner in brooklyn---the land of no reservations!). Betting on a tasting menu format under these circumstances (when was the last resto like that that opened in T.O., Colborne Lane?) does seem pretty risky.
                                Having said that, I think that Dubchild is right and that pulling off an ambitious and against the grain venture like this could not only be good for the hoofs, but good for the T.O. scene as a whole. If this is gonna work, it's probably gonna mean really good food.

                                Colborne Lane
                                45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

                                1. re: mstacey42

                                  I too share your skepticism.

                                  While I enjoy Black Hoof here and there, if they are to continue on this offal trend with the tasting menus I'm not sure how willing I would be to throw down large amounts of money. It's already teetering on maxing out how much I'm willing to pay for innards. I realize that mine may be a decision affected by my childhood of eating offal on a regular basis for very cheap.

                                  We shall see.

                                  On the other hand, I am happy for the buzz that it may create for the Toronto dining scene.

                                  The Black Hoof
                                  928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                                  1. re: radiopolitic

                                    i'd be surprised if BHCO kept with an offal theme. i think that grant became personally interested in charcuterie, partly because of a void in the TO scene, and filled it with his own whims. no one has tried to match him and customers have been happy to eat what he has fancied to make. he found a great partner that wants very similar things.

                                    the ko reference did pop in my head, but in the sense that again i think they will just do whatever they want. not to say that they're tired of offal but that this is a playground for all his future interests with a strong collaborative front from his chefs. i'm curious to see what a menu will look like but i do imagine a move towards including more seafood and veg strong dishes. i don't think it will be MG, but i do think he will push the boundaries on combinations and techniques.

                              3. Although I'm sad that one of my "lazy days" brunch spots will soon be defunct, I am excited at the same time. If this works out, it will bring much needed energy to our dining scene. I only wonder how hard it will be to get a reservation!!

                                1. I wish them good luck.
                                  People complained when Lennon/McCartney (OK I can hear the chorus of "who are/were they?") started using more sophisticated rhythms/chords.
                                  NOTHING stands still - it only stops moving when it's dead.

                                  I love the Hoof Cafe. The Cafe is dead, long live the Company!

                                  1. Was in today for the Hoof Cafe/Black Hoof 1-2 punch meal. Bigger crowds than usual. Luckily we started at the Cafe for snacks before deciding to continue on to the Black Hoof. Those who did it the other way (Black Hoof first) were unfortunately dumped to the Cafe to wait, but even the Cafe was full and bustling at that time. Looks like everyone is paying their last respects...

                                    The Black Hoof
                                    928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                                    1. Quite saddened by the news as Hoof Cafe served the only brunch in the city I would eat. Overall, not a fan of the sloppy brunch scene in Toronto. They were the "saving grace", hah!

                                      Plus it was affordable, and was less inclined to rack up a big bill on booze since it was lunch. Don't think I would hit up BHCO at the frequency I visit Hoof Cafe due to cost. I actually prefer the Cafe more so than reg Black Hoof.

                                      I do wish them success w/ their new direction, no doubt it'll be successful. If they can be profitable with reduced hours of operation, more power to them. They've more than paid their dues with their industry friendly hours.

                                      You regular lot, imagine having Tuesdays/Wednesdays off. Not much fun for your social life now......

                                      The Black Hoof
                                      928 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: aser

                                        Did brunch at Marben again. I can't compare it to the Hoof because every time we've gone it was packed and we weren't willing to wait. I find the brunch at Marben to be stellar. Maybe the options aren't as adventurous as the Hoof, but if you haven't tried, it may become a brunch you'll eat. I still think their corned beef is the best I've had.

                                        488 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1E5, CA

                                      2. Haven't been keeping up with CH for the last 2 months. Started reading again and find this and all I have to say is:


                                        I will miss you, brunch. ;-;

                                        1. Oh my. I've been out of the country for over 2 months and tons of people have been sending me this article because they know that I'm in love with their french toast...best in the city with or without the ridiculously large slab of foie gras. I am sad that I won't have a chance to have one last brunch!! Looking forward to seeing what's in store for us in April...Enjoying this discussion though...makes me wonder what else I missed over the past couple of months...Danforth Pizza House and the Fish Store better be there when I return...@_@


                                          The Fish Store
                                          657 College St, Toronto, ON M6G1B7, CA

                                          The Pizza House
                                          155 Main St E, Grimsby, ON L3M1P2, CA

                                          41 Replies
                                          1. re: ekim256

                                            Tried to get in to the Hoof today with no luck. Arrived at just after 10 with only 2 people in line ahead of us only to be told we would be added to the already long list of names and probably a 2 hour wait. I have a hard time believing that all these people ahead of us just popped in, gave their name and # and will come back. I mean where do they go in between?

                                            Anyways we took some bone marrow donuts to go and headed somewhere.

                                            The donuts were not what I remembered them to be 6 months ago. While okay, they were half the size. Because they were so small, they were also a little hard and not as donutty, cake ish.

                                            I was pretty underwhelmed with the attitude of the staff also. Like they were doing us a big favour by adding us to the liist. Sorry but I just don't get why they can't take a reservation. Who the heck wants to wait around 2 hours for a meal??

                                            All in all have decided that I won't be missing them. RIP Hoof.

                                            1. re: millygirl

                                              Agreed. The place is a total disaster. Glad to see it go. Hopefully the rude service will be gone as well. I'll give them one more shot.

                                              1. re: justpete

                                                +2 I found the staff pretentious and the place is so packed that you can't even walk. I guess all the success has gone to their head. The food is somewhat unique for TO but not amazing IMO. I don't think their attitude will change but there is always hope.

                                                1. re: elvisahmed

                                                  you guys are nuts.
                                                  their wait staff are foodies and hipsters combined.
                                                  no one was ever rude in any of my visits. did they ever remember my face? no. but this is toronto. i don't expect phenomenal service anywhere i go. i would rate the Hoof as above average without a doubt.

                                                  reservations: i understand what your point is. for the Hoof, my answer is simple: i go there for dinner at 6 PM, no later. makes life easier. and going to the Hoof Cafe on a Sunday for brunch when they only have 1 week of service left? seriously, what did you expect? they tweeted a pic of last weekend's insane line-up. i haven't been there on a weekend since shortly after they opened, so there's no way you would catch me going there on this particular weekend.

                                                  "the success has gone to their heads." Honestly, keep on thinking this way about my favourite restaurants and it means more delicious food for me and other options for you. my lunch there on Friday was excellent. the crepes were delicious, the pastrami was delicious and they let my 6 year old niece stand in the kitchen and watch them cook for 10 minutes.

                                                  I'm on Team Hoof. sorry.

                                                  1. re: atomeyes

                                                    Those crepes were really good.... just wanted to pop that in.

                                                    1. re: atomeyes

                                                      So you're letting the restaurant dictate when you're allowed to go to dinner? That's something I'd never subject myself to.

                                                      And there's nothing foodie about their servers. They're hipsters through and through. Next time you go, ask them about food that's not on the menu at the hoof. Ill bet you get a blank stare. They're akin to the servers at Terronis.

                                                      It's not so much about the lack of service, it's about the poor attitude and false sense of accomplishment.

                                                      1. re: justpete

                                                        Most of the time at the charcuterie we get good and knowledgeable service but every once in a while unbelievable arrogance. Across the street at the Cafe on the other hand, our one visit the service was so lousy we haven't been back and frankly the food by comparison to across the street wasn't that good.

                                                        1. re: justpete

                                                          i've been to the cafe twice in the past 10 days.
                                                          both times, i asked questions about what's on the menu. questions were answered quite well.

                                                          my question is: why are you asking a server questions about food not on their menu? i see a pot calling the kettle black.

                                                          i've had servers at both restaurants incredibly passionate and excited about what they serve. they knew their food. not sure what else it is that you want.

                                                          judging by the line-ups, i would suggest that most patrons are fine with the level of service.

                                                          1. re: atomeyes

                                                            No need to take it pesonal atomeyes. How 'bout we just agree to disagree? Like everything else, some like, and some don't.

                                                            As to you're question about asking a server questions about food not on the menu? I think you may be over analyzing here. We quite often engage our servers about food in general. Some are more passionate than others, and some just don't have a clue. That's how I took it. I don't see how that is problem for you.

                                                            1. re: atomeyes

                                                              I never said that *I* asked them about food that wasn't on their menu, I suggested that someone could - to which they undoubtedly wouldn't know the answer(s).

                                                              I don't frequent restaurants for which I have to wait 2 hours. I went their a couple of times in the past (I didn't have to wait) - it's a novelty act that wasn't all that good.

                                                              Their level of knowledge depends on your perspective, I guess. :)

                                                            2. re: justpete

                                                              I can tell you unequivocally that several servers know food, there is absolutely no disputing that. I've had nothing but excellent service at both the Hoof Cafe and The Black Hoof, although I haven't always found the food to be exciting or well executed.

                                                              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                                                Regardless, that was not my experience, nor others that I know that have went. They know far more about the indie music scene than food. :)

                                                                1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                                                  +1: This is exactly how I felt about Hoof both times dining there. The service was more than adequate even impressive.....food okay at best.

                                                                2. re: justpete

                                                                  Why are folks getting so salty about this? The place is going to be rammed on a Sunday, especially with one week of operation left. They only have 18 seats in the place, and it was a long weekend. If you expect to be able to waltz in, then I really don't know what to tell you.

                                                                  I've gone 3 times in the last 3 weeks and had no wait at all. Then again, I went on weekdays at non-prime hours. Not a big sacrifice for me as those are my days off.

                                                                  I wouldn't wait 2 hrs to get in either, hence my method works for me. I understand if your schedule doesn't permit you to do what I do, but why get so aggro about it?

                                                                  I've had pretty good service at the hoof cafe, consistently. They are very knowledgeable about their menu items, giving detailed explanations on everything. Yes some hipsters are annoying, but does that mean the hoof cafe servers are automatically brainless trend hoppers just because they're rocking extra smedium flannel shirts. I've had consistently good service from the Asian dude each and every time and I'm sure you would call him a hipster.

                                                                  1. re: aser

                                                                    I, for one, am not expecting to 'waltz' in.. I much prefer a restaurant where I can make a reservation and come when it's time - not a place where you go and it's the luck of the draw, and quite often that 'luck' is a two hour wait. I haven't the time. Just my opinion and disposition. No biggie. I'm happy to see it go and look forward to the new iteration, and what it may become.

                                                          2. re: millygirl

                                                            I had same issue yesterday.
                                                            Two hour wait, shortly after 10:00.
                                                            I didn't bother with the donuts - just left.
                                                            However, we do seem to be in the minority here - but the new version WILL take reservations!
                                                            Am still planning a weekday brunch before they close though - does anybody have insight on wait times outside Sat/Sun so that I can take a 'limited' lunch break?

                                                            1. re: estufarian

                                                              i will only go NON sat/sun and it's in my top 5 brunch places in the city (though i do not like all the classic favourites, the donuts i had were tiny, expensive, hard and dense).

                                                              i usually drop in thurs or fri about 2-3pm, the place is often so quiet i'm one of 2-3 tables there. love it. i did go one friday at noonish and the place was busy but no line. they run out of the daily dessert pretty early though. never been on a monday.

                                                              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                Thanks to you (and Notorious P.I.G. & jlunar below) for the response with that useful information - exactly what I asked for.

                                                                1. re: estufarian

                                                                  I went today, holiday monday at 2:30, no wait for 2 at the bar.

                                                              2. re: estufarian

                                                                It's usually always busy like that. The move to make lately is to go there, put your name down, and then go run an errand and come back. Easier said than done I guess as I live in the area but that's one way to do it nonetheless.

                                                                Outside Saturday/Sunday I've never had to wait for a table there. I usually go around 8pm on a weeknight. Maybe I'm lucky. I have to imagine that the coming week will be a different story as people flock there in droves to get their last meal?

                                                                1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                                                                  so you're a night menu person, not a bruncher.
                                                                  just wondering your thoughts on their fried chicken. i assume you've had it.

                                                                  1. re: atomeyes

                                                                    i'm not who you're asking, but i figured i might as well offer my thoughts.

                                                                    i've only had it once, on a monday night and it seemed like they a had reserved a couple plates for a table so they ran out about 7:30pm and we were just about the last order. at about 7:45/8pm is when the place completely filled up and the line began.

                                                                    it appeared that we got two halves of a med-large breast, one thigh, one wing. the batter had a similar thickness to kfc, where it is mostly thin but with jutting out pieces of crispy batter. the white meat was unfortunately dry, not terribly so but it was, and the flavour of the batter was a little floury for me and a bit underseasoned. it was nice but not exceptional. better than my stockyards experience (which was terribly dry). they leave on odd sections of thin bone, which i think is a little weird but easy to eat around. not greasy.

                                                                    in addition to the chicken they gave us a fermented slaw (did not ask about the fermentation, was on the naturally sweet side and a tiny bit of tang... i liked it), grilled biscuits (a bit too dense for my liking), buffalo-style sauce, and a rich chicken and pork gravy that i'd gladly drink vats of. i didn't check the bill, but backwards calculations indicate it was about $22. we got 3 other regular menu dishes and were rather ridiculously full between 2 of us, it seemed like most pairs were ordering the chicken and a small dish and were satisfied.

                                                                    1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                      By fermented slaw do you mean they called it that or was it going bad?

                                                                      1. re: Blueicus

                                                                        they called it that. i guess it is their variant on pickling.... i was thinking they might have been getting into kimchee since it's quite trendy.

                                                                        1. re: Blueicus

                                                                          maybe more like sauerkraut....

                                                                          psp re stockyards chicken - i'm sad your chicken was dry. when i had it (quite a while ago), it was very moist from the brining. our order was hot as it was straight from the fryer too. i hope it hasn't changed!

                                                                          1. re: chocabot

                                                                            Never had dry chicken at Stockyards. Always very moist. It's unfortunate yours was though, because it's really, really good .

                                                                            1. re: chocabot

                                                                              they had pre-fried a batch and let it sit in the basket, which was fine because it had a chance to cool (still hot when we ate it)... but... dry. enough so that we weren't interested in finishing it.

                                                                          2. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                            to be honest, i found the fried chicken to be one of the more disappointing dishes. it was good but not amazing. for the price. i expected amazing

                                                                            1. re: atomeyes

                                                                              i enjoyed everything around the chicken more than the chicken.

                                                                              1. re: atomeyes

                                                                                Didn't love the chicken either. Nice, but not something it'd re-order. Loved the pig's tail I had the same night though. Would get that again in a heartbeat. Despite how phallic it looked (with fried curly kale to boot... they must have been giggling while plating this).

                                                                        2. re: estufarian

                                                                          Went last Thursday right before noon. Seated with no wait. There was a short line up about 15 mins after noon.

                                                                          1. re: jlunar

                                                                            By the way, we ended up having a very nice brunch at Marben instead.
                                                                            Great charcoutierrie platter, fabulous ceasar (much better than the Hoofs')
                                                                            and really nice eggs benny and coffee. The four of us were quite pleased with our choice.

                                                                            All that and zero attitude. In fact quite the opposite. Highly recommend it.
                                                                            And much more comfortable surroundings.

                                                                            488 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 1E5, CA

                                                                          2. re: estufarian

                                                                            Tried to go yesterday as well. There were 30 people in line waiting for it to open at 10. We went to Lola's Commissionary instead and had a lovely brunch.

                                                                            1. re: fickle

                                                                              How many places in the city actually take brunch reservations? I also have no idea how the staff could be perceived as 'pretentious' Every time I've been they've been casual but friendly and attentive. The ceasar with pickled ramps I had was awesome too. I'm sad it's going but looking forward to their latest venture.

                                                                              1. re: jamesm

                                                                                I agree. The wait at places like bonjour brioche, lady marmalade, etc are sometimes just as bad. I've dined there about 7 times and the service has always been friendly. I go during the week, or like today, make it a point to be there around 20 minutes before they open (and got to sit with the first batch of people.) I'm so sad they're closing!

                                                                              2. re: estufarian

                                                                                i'd go on Thurs, not Fri. Fri may be nuts.
                                                                                it usually thins out after 1. for a table for 4, we waited 5-10 minutes

                                                                                1. re: estufarian

                                                                                  We went last Monday for a first visit, shortly before noon, no wait for a table for 2. Loved the room, reminded me of some cafes in Sydney. I liked but didn't love the eggs benny - it was okay but it was a bit vinegary or something (from the poaching maybe or perhaps some other flavour). The hollandaise was nice, though. LOVED the french toast and side of bacon. Waitress was sweet and enthusiastic. Am attempting, like most others here, to go back one more time before they close, though it's obviously (and understandably) going to be slammed this last week.

                                                                                2. re: millygirl

                                                                                  I've always had good experiences with staff. They've actually vegetarian-ized several dishes without making me feel like a jerk. (Before you ask, I tagged along with friends who wanted to go, knowing full well the menu is 99% meat. Staff offered to fix some food for me, which is more than I can say about most restaurants.)

                                                                                  1. re: piccola

                                                                                    A number of the staff are indeed complete foodsters, and they certainly know their food outwith the Hoof's menus.

                                                                                    I have always found the service both informed and gracious.

                                                                              3. Tried to go on brunch on Saturday. Hour and a half long wait at 11:30 for 2. Ended up going to Saving Grace instead.

                                                                                Went yesterday to try the fried chicken. Despite getting there at just a little after 6 (6:03?), and probably ordering at 6:15-6:20, the fried chicken for my table didn't come out until about 7:20.

                                                                                Meat was drier than Stockyards, less greasy in comparison, I liked the batter more than Stockyards, but I still like Stockyards' chicken more overall. Really not worth the wait though. If you're going to go tonight or next week, get in at 6 and order it first thing is my advice.

                                                                                Saving Grace
                                                                                907 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J1V9, CA

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: PhilH

                                                                                  our server told us it would take 45 minutes to get the chicken and encouraged us to order it first and then get the other items.

                                                                                2. Made my second visit to Hoof Cafe in as many weeks. Today's breakfast was outstanding. We had their omelette special - a perfectly cooked omelette with black trumpet mushrooms, creme fraiche and a salty sweet truffle gastrique - heaven on a plate. The brioche french toast was delicious as well. We arrived around 10:30 and were seated without a wait. Service was friendly and professional. I am constantly lamenting the lack of great brunch spots in this city (especially weekday brunch spots!) and am seriously bummed to have only finally made it here on the eve of its closing.

                                                                                  18 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: peppermint pate

                                                                                    That omeletye sounds fantastic. Did they say they were running it tomorrow, or am I dining there a day too late?

                                                                                    1. re: table4onthefly

                                                                                      It was so, so good. I didn't ask about tomorrow and I haven't been there enough to know if their specials change daily - maybe others know? But you do have a few more days to check them out and I'd have to believe that even if the omelette isn't in the mix, you won't have a problem ordering a tasty meal. I really, really like this place.

                                                                                      1. re: peppermint pate

                                                                                        Unfortunately in my experience its more a case of them selling out before I can get to it. (see: fried chicken, marinated suckling pig ribs, hiramasa collar...)

                                                                                        1. re: table4onthefly

                                                                                          Went for my last visit to the Cafe this morning. Got there a bit early, so I walked around for a bit and got back at 10 to get in with no wait. Within 20 minutes the restaurant was full and people were leaving phone numbers. I've only been to the cafe once before for brunch (but 5 times for late night), so I had work to do. Started with the suckling benny and the scrapple. Both were great, and I saw Geoff added some really nice greens to the scrapple dish as opposed to the arugula with the benny. Wanting to try as much as possible, I left an english muffin and the salad on the benny plate, but finished the scrapple. Ordered the spot prawn grits (hold the eggs!) which were excellent, though a bit coarse for my liking. Spot prawns were perfectly cooked. Grabbed a tongue grilled cheese and a fried squid sammy to go and bid farewell to one of my favorite spots in the city.

                                                                                          On another note, they were running the "Hoof Crepes" on the menu, I didn't try it, but if someone could post their review of the dish, that would be great.

                                                                                          1. re: table4onthefly

                                                                                            Nice!!! It would have been funny if they weighed you on the way in and then again on the way out - ha! The things we do in the name of good chow...

                                                                                            So I'm guessing the omelette special wasn't on the menu today?

                                                                                            1. re: peppermint pate

                                                                                              No omelette unfortunately. No bone marrow doughnuts either; I was tipped off by one of the staff on Wednesday that they were making a batch Thursday, so they must have been FLYING out the window fast haha

                                                                                              1. re: table4onthefly

                                                                                                I actually asked for the doughnuts yesterday and they said they were only going to have them on the weekend...I was sad...

                                                                                                1. re: peppermint pate

                                                                                                  Looks like we got the ol' double hoodwink haha maybe I'll send someone to bring some to work for me...

                                                                                                2. re: table4onthefly

                                                                                                  The doughnuts have always been weekend only to my knowledge. They're ok, definitely not their strongest offering. It sounds cooler than what it really is, not much of a marrow taste.

                                                                                                  Had the omelette on Thurs, more of a light snack. Best omelette I've had in a while that's for sure. The only dud on the current menu for me is the fried squid sammy, not worth the stomach real estate.

                                                                                                  I think that's the end of the road for me, 4 visits in 4 weeks. Sorry to see them go.

                                                                                              2. re: table4onthefly

                                                                                                The hoof crepes were good. I have a photo. Will post soon. But gooood.

                                                                                                1. re: jlunar

                                                                                                  I'd like to see some of these dishes migrate across the street to the hoof proper for some version of a breakfast for dinner menu. I'd eat the hell out of that.

                                                                                                  1. re: jamesm

                                                                                                    Oh man me too! I would be tickled pink if that happened.

                                                                                                2. re: table4onthefly

                                                                                                  hi table. was there this morning too and by the number of plates you ordered, i think i know who you are! solo diner at the bar, right? :-) good on you!

                                                                                                  i had the crepes and they were amazing. a bit small (i think i could have eaten two orders) but so well-balanced. three crepes were tossed in a maple-mustard syrup. sandwiched between the crepes were pieces of ham, slightly salty, just the right thickness and just the right amount of cure. on top were fried brussels sprouts....the best part of the dish, in my opinion. the sprouts were nutty, sweet, a bit crunchy and had just the right amount of bitterness to offset the sweetness of the crepes. underneath all that was a smear of creme fraiche, which added a rich mouthfeel and a bit of sourness to the dish. sweet, salty, sour and bitter. soft crepes, plus meaty ham, plus crunchy sprouts, and creamy creme. so many components in one dish. i think of all the things i've tried at the hoof cafe (and i've tried many) this may be my favorite dish.

                                                                                                  1. re: ctl98

                                                                                                    I had the day off work. didn't eat dinner last night due to a late hockey game, so i thought i'd treat myself to a quick lunch inbetween my errands.
                                                                                                    i got to the Hoof at around 1:30. i'll break my review down so we can touch on the sore spots some posters mentioned:

                                                                                                    1. Seating speed - I was seated immediately. 2 seats available at the bar, a table for 2 left 2 minutes after I sat, zero crowd or wait. Apparently there was a wait during the noon rush.

                                                                                                    2. service - my "usual" server was incredibly cordial and polite. said hi, sat me. my actual server wasn't overly engaging, but i'm there to eat, not to make friends. she didn't ask me how everything was. no biggie. the chef came out and he recognized me from the week before. we made small talk for a few minutes and he was nice. Again, I don't see the hipster/knowledgless comments other posters have posted (one out of the 3 servers was in hipster territory, but whatever....honestly....such a silly critique), but i knew what I wanted and ordered it, and all was good.

                                                                                                    Food - i ordered the crepes (even though I was toying with the Eggs, Kraut and Brat) and a side of baked beans. The crepes are delicious. the poster above did an excellent breakdown. the brussle sprouts complete the dish. they are such a curveball but work perfectly. the crepes appear to be small, but by 7 PM tonight, I was in no rush to eat dinner. the baked beans were nice. they were topped with a serving of fried collard greens (i believe) that were shredded and nice and crispy. the beans has some chunks of meat and possibly a few chunks of fat. they were yummy (I still like Buster Rhinos more, but that's just an aside). for $3 or whatever it was, it was a nice side dish.

                                                                                                    I was in an out in 40 minutes max. with tip, the bill was $22 for me to eat solo. a little higher than what I like to spend for lunch, but i dare someone to find me crepes like that anywhere else.

                                                                                                    Fare thee well, my dear Cafe. You were a lovely take on brunch and Toronto will not be the same without you

                                                                                                    Buster Rhino's
                                                                                                    2001 Thickson Rd S, Whitby, ON L1N, CA

                                                                                                    1. re: ctl98

                                                                                                      Pahahhaha well it's nice to see that my gluttony didn't go unnoticed! :P

                                                                                                      Shame I missed out on it, sounds like it was a real winner.

                                                                                                      To further push the creeper/awkward envelope, which one were you?

                                                                                                      1. re: table4onthefly

                                                                                                        solo diner at the very end of the bar. came a bit before 10 too. i wish i had the courage to order everything you did!

                                                                                                        1. re: ctl98

                                                                                                          Oh that's right I remember you now. French Press coffee too? I'm scaring myself with these observations...

                                                                                                          Yeah I didn't know the scrapple came with eggs too. I used to do this type of thing a lot while I was in NY; order a lot of food and eat just what's exclusive to the place (I told Geoff to hold the eggs on the shrimp and grits because really, it's just an egg). And of course I just got back from the gym haha

                                                                                            2. Did my last brunch today with a friend.

                                                                                              Had the french toast with foie gras, shrimp and grits, scrapple, and donuts. Everything was delicious. Definitely going to miss this.

                                                                                              1. OMG, I did it - I actually went back. Again. 3 times in 3 weeks. Today I tried the crepes. When I first heard them described to me, the brussels sprouts threw me off. But somehow, the combination not only works, it's a thing of beauty - a symphony of flavours and textures. The espresso maching was busted but the French press was surprisingly good. They also had the marrow donuts on special today - little tiny nuggets of fried dough tossed in crystal sugar, filled with some sort of a berry jam (I forget) - and lovage (I think?). They were pretty good, slightly more-ish but not as divine as the crepes or last week's omelette. Service was very friendly. The room was surprisingly calm for the last day. Anyway, I'm sorry that it took me this long to make it here but so, so happy for my trio of morning feasts. For me, this place was a gem.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: peppermint pate

                                                                                                  The thing is, those donuts used to be much larger than the tiny nuggets they have come to be. Larger they were OTP fantastic. As tiny as they are now, not so much.

                                                                                                2. FYI,
                                                                                                  word is that its opening in May.

                                                                                                  1. A bit more info about BHCO from The Grid:

                                                                                                    The overall idea is based around van Gameren’s increasing obsession with wild foraging, which he does in Muskoka and in other forested areas around the city. “Conceptually,” he says, “it’s experimenting with what nature has to offer, like something that tastes like asparagus, but is actually an invasive species. You want to talk about Canadian cuisine? This is going to be food from our own land.” Van Gameren will use birch bark to roast meats and clay to roast vegetables. He boasts about his serving vessels as much as the food, promising sustainable rock lobster on ancient stones he’s collected himself, custom-made pottery, and polished marrow bones nestled in crevices of cedar cattle fences. It’s farmhouse cuisine taken to its refined extreme: a younger, more urban version of Michael Stadtländer’s Eigensinn Farm, with the laid-back Trinity Bellwoods attitude intact and the indie-punk still playing over the sound system.


                                                                                                    Bellwood Restaurant
                                                                                                    756 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J1E9, CA

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: JennaBean

                                                                                                        Noma was also my immediate impression. Would be interesting to see the limits and potentials of this approach within the locality of Ontario. I really really hope the potentials would be more visible than the limits. fingers crossed

                                                                                                      2. re: vidkid

                                                                                                        Very original

                                                                                                        I know Grant has bought a pacojet so we can also expect razor clams with Horseradish snow

                                                                                                        I'm frankly speedily loosing interest in this the longer it takes them to actually get it off the ground

                                                                                                        1. re: vidkid

                                                                                                          The article was really interesting, but the quote of $400 for dinner for two scared me off a bit.

                                                                                                          1. re: vidkid

                                                                                                            They look so photoshopped in that pic, weird....

                                                                                                            Looking forward to the food, which will be good, don't think it'll be world stage good though. That's not a knock, Toronto ain't on that level. Dude def has drive, props for that. Perhaps he can achieve his goals, but it'll surely require a lot of mistakes before BHCO can claim to be on a Michelin level. I'm optimistic....

                                                                                                            Not looking forward to the endless Noma buzzword comparisons in the press. zzzzzzzzz.....

                                                                                                            1. re: aser

                                                                                                              i was talking about this last night. its strange that toronto has a lot of excellent restos but nothing that has the Michelin prestige/cache.

                                                                                                              then again, not convinced that we're a city that's prepared to spend more than $100 per person on mains.