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Grant gone at the Black Hoof

as per the Tweet from the Black Hoof twitter account.
Not sure what happened there, but also wondering if that explains the delay in opening BHCo

*edit* Toronto Life's website confirmed a few things that I thought and I posted about (see below).

BHCo is on hold (no surprise).
Grant's been out of the kitchen for a while.
Food will remain the same, since their other chef was responsible for half of the menu.

I assume the only noticeable drop-off will be with their charcuterie. so be it.

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

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  1. That's terrible news. Hope to see him cooking somewhere else, pronto.

    5 Replies
    1. re: jamesm

      Sent this link to my wife:

      http://www.thestar.com/Entertainment/...

      Besides the reno, lots has changed at the Hoof. I forgot what the menu was like in the early days. I feel like the charcuterie's taken a step back and, in the beginning, it was THE reason for heading to the Hoof. Last time I was there, the charc. plate was good but not amazing.

      1. re: atomeyes

        What does the link to an article from 3 years back have to do with his leaving? I read it quickly but didn't see any relevance. Did you intend to post a differnt link?

        1. re: foodyDudey

          read the menu from 3 years ago. that, and his Charcuterie Sunday blog, leads me to think that the restaurant moved in a direction away from his true passion.

          other articles said that the new dishes were done in collaboration with the other chefs. The Hoof from a few years ago may not have been the Hoof that he started up.

          again, its speculation, but i'd put a few things together (and ask you when you last saw him cooking at the Hoof, since I can't recall seeing him for at least half a year) and its pretty clear that the restaurant evolved into something that either didn't represent him anymore or that didn't highlight his work.

          1. re: atomeyes

            The last few posts at his blog are actually by Jen.

            1. re: atomeyes

              Well I wouldn't say anything is clear. But that's some pretty good speculating there.

      2. Really bad news. From what I understand Jen can be, um, challenging to work with. Hopefully the story comes out, and Grant starts something new.

        19 Replies
        1. re: childofthestorm

          I've never encountered such a rude, obnoxious and repugnant hostess/proprietor ever before. I went there once and never again. Can't say I'm surprised.

          1. re: justpete

            To her defense, I wouldn't call her rude. I don't think that small talk w/strangers is her thing (and yes, that should be something that a host is good at).
            She's never made us feel welcome even though I've always politely said hello, how are you, congrats, etc. But I couldn't care less. The rest of her staff is awesome and I'm there to eat the food, not her personality.

            1. re: atomeyes

              Not about small talk - I wouldn't even consider speaking to her - and I would have went back if I hadn't learned she was the proprietor. Sometimes a restaurant crosses a line that's outside of the scope of how good the food is, and it could be anything, that causes you not to return. This was one of them.

              1. re: atomeyes

                The little lady quoted saying, "Vodka is stupid" certainly is rude. Her further depiction of vodka drinkers in the next paragraph sheds further light on this personality.

                Moving a client from one to the other should be done with gentle persuasion by showing them something new and exciting, not by insulting them. The news of yesterday surprises me not at all.

                http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/f...

                Hey lady I have news for you. Your ego doesn't write cheques nor does it have an American Express.

                1. re: Googs

                  Not only is it rude, but it displays a clear lack of intellect - I cannot believe someone would write such a missive and include words like "stupid" and "dumb" for all the community to see... Her psyche must be fairly fragile for her to take such an angry disposition towards a beverage and it's imbibers. Amusing to say the least.

                  I suspect that she was extremely fortunate that BH took off in spite of her, and that she stumbled upon a good chef.

                  1. re: justpete

                    I kinda agree. She's lucky she's still got a good chef there but part of me wonders for how much longer.

                      1. re: iMarilyn

                        exactly.
                        there are a lot of spiteful, angry people on here.

                        For those who don't give frequent interviews nor have never been trained to give an interview, it is incredibly easy to be misquoted. Put a microphone in front of any person and you never know what will come out of their mouth.

                        I felt bad for speculating in my previous posts, but some of you have turned her into the second coming of the Son of Sam.

                        Perhaps walk a mile in her shoes before lining up to crucify her?

                        1. re: atomeyes

                          re: Vodka debacle - Weren't those her own words, on her website?

                          ala http://www.charcuteriesundays.com/201... ?

                          1. re: justpete

                            They were her own words but they are open to interpretation and for all intents and purposes it was a piece of creative writing. I also think it's being blown out of proportion. It's hardly the malicious missive impugning vodka drinkers and their character it's being made out to be. I think it's intended to be a little more tongue in cheek and self-aware than it is being given credit for.

                            1. re: jamesm

                              Sorry, I disagree. She's been quoted in several different articles, and written her own diatribe on vodka. She's made it abundantly clear what her opinion is on the subject.

                              Also, see bytepusher's comments below with her snide comment on a "fake" allergy to gin. That's pretty darn snarky and rude coming from a restauranteur if you ask me.

                              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                She live-and-in-person put down Beau for ordering vodka. He was so disgusted he walked out without drinking or paying, Oh, but she still wanted to get paid. Nope. She's nasty.

                                People who are abusive to their customers or staff don't deserve our money.

                                1. re: Googs

                                  I agree that people who are abusive to their customers and/or staff don't deserve our money.

                                  I recently witnessed a veteran restaurant owner treat one of his servers cruelly, within earshot of my table, after I had politely asked the server a question about a substitution. The restaurant owner hissed at the server, so I would be able to hear he was angry that I'd consider asking whether a substitution could be made, rather than telling me directly that he did not want to allow any substitutions. My chowfriend and I didn't bother with requesting the substitutions after watching his hissy fit. His bad behaviour certainly put a damper on my mood while we were in the Restaurant.

                                  This happened to be this particular restaurant owner's second strike- he had been aloof, condescending and rude on a previous visit, but I had ignored his behaviour because I like the Chef, the servers, and the food served at the restaurant. I won't be returning again. It's too bad, because his nasty behaviour undid the hard work of his Chef and servers.

                                  Mean restaurant owners suck.

                                  1. re: Googs

                                    I guess my point is I've never experienced this nastiness so until then I'll happily hand over my money. I've never heard or seen anything about her being nasty or rude to her staff either. In fact she comes across in interviews as protective and almost maternal with them. Is this something you've seen first hand?

                                    1. re: jamesm

                                      I didn't say she was rude to employees. I have no firsthand knowledge of that. Sorry if it was a little confusing. The 2nd paragraph is a general statement and my policy. I won't knowingly spend my money at places where they're unkind to the staff or customers.

                                      1. re: jamesm

                                        I've also never experiences any nastiness from any of the staff. I hope, as others have suggested, that in the end we get two great restaurants. The vodka comments never bothered me because I agree with them. I imagine what promoted that rant was constant exposure to people with the noses in the air firmly stating they only drink Grey Goose. There may be people who can in a blind tasting tell the difference between vodkas, although I'm willing to put a hundred dollars down that they can't, but the majority can't tell the difference between one product stripped of flavour from another product stripped of flavour. So why is Grey Goose the #1 selling vodka at the LCBO? Because of clever marketing. And if someone spends twice as much on a product only because they are susceptible to marketing, is it really that far off to call them dumb or stupid.
                                        I wish both Jen and Grant the best in their future endeavours.

                                  2. re: jamesm

                                    There is nothing tongue in cheek about the article she wrote for the CityBites magazine distributed with the Globe last week. Cocktail Bar (formerly Hoof Café) does not have any vodka: "You have to believe in the products you sell. I don't believe in vodka." This kind of supercilious fundamentalism with respect to alcoholic potables is completely ridiculous. Good luck to her, but I won't be darkening her door.

                                    1. re: caviartothegeneral

                                      The funny thing is they sure sold a lot of caesars during Hoof Cafe's run.

                                      1. re: aser

                                        I think it's EXCELLENT she can afford to turn down money and customers. Good for her.

                2. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooo.,.....

                    1. Let's not forget at the beginning the original idea for the place was Jen's and Grant just responded to a craigslist ad. That said he clearly had a huge impact on the menu and the whole direction the place took.

                      Let's also not forget that he hasn't really been at the stove there for months now.

                      I've been for dinner a couple times since the official change in chefs and I agree with others assessments that the cooked dishes are still largely solid but the charcuterie is weaker, in particular it's markedly less Spanish in feel, seriously the place is named after a breed of Spanish pig, how can you present a charcuterie platter with no iberico sausages? In Grant's day the bolder end of the platter always tilted Spanish.

                      There's really no value in speculating on the reasons and also no reason to question both parties assertions that the split was mutual and amicable.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: bytepusher

                        Taking the positive view - doesn't this mean we potentially have two restaurants again?
                        One the continuing 'Hoof' - the other the possible 'new Grant' restaurant?
                        How can we lose?

                        1. re: estufarian

                          I responded to this post earlier and said "I hope so. Also credit to the other chefs who have participated in creating the menu. Some of the better dishes I've had there have been the non-charcuterie items."

                          And that post has since disappeared. I'm sure I posted it, but maybe not. I certainly hope a moderator didn't remove it.

                          1. re: jamesm

                            pretty certain posted something that said the exact same thing and its gone.
                            no surprise.

                          2. re: estufarian

                            It's certainly true that a change of chef does not automatically spell the death of a restaurant or imply a slide in quality, and there are plenty of examples in the city, off the top of my head I can think of three restaurants that get regular props here that have survived and even thrived after their start up chef(s) moved on. Some things will change and that's not a bad thing as long as fundamental quality is maintained (and the new guy certainly has the work experience that suggests that ought not be an issue).

                            But let's be honest, the place was a success almost exclusively because of the food (and to a lesser extent the cocktails) and some of the really good servers they hired. Other wise almost any non-food aspect of the business had issues at one time or another, they pay rent on storefronts they are not using for months at a time, for nearly two years they didn't even have a 1 page web splash site with their basic info on it, they closed a raging success of a cafe in favour of a high concept crap shoot that never even opened, at times they substituted almost open hostility for customer service. They were great in the kitchen and behind the bar, culinary artists, but at least one of them, maybe both were horrible business people. I guess well find out eventually.

                            1. re: bytepusher

                              I never got over the closing of the Hoof Cafe..I LOVED that place. Made absolutely no sense to me to close it and "reinvent" something that didn't need reinvention. If it ain't broke...

                              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                well, i get why they did it, kind of, sort of.

                                they were running 2 restaurants 5 days a week. the Cafe was bloody tiring - open for brunch then open late at night.

                                Toronto arguably doesn't have any Michelin-starred restaurants. BHCo was going to be this exclusive and original restaurant. They could work for 3 nights a week and make good (?) money off of it. so that made sense.

                                I'd also assume that the chef at the Cafe would have left anyways to open his own place. so perhaps that was part of the decision to close it down.

                                I've stated elsewhere that my personal concern would be the financial strain of a) paying rent on the 2 Hoof properties, b) possibly paying rent on the storefront just east of the Hoof that was supposed to be the location for the cocktail bar, c) the cost of reno'ing Hoof Cafe, d) cost of having it sit closed for months and e) if they can make back the reno costs by keeping BHCo's location as a teeny tiny bar.

                                that's quite a financial strain and i'd worry about the Hoof's viability/cash flow before worrying about the quality of food declining.

                        2. I was saddened and slightly happy. Jen was the worst part of this restaurant. Snobby with a "customer is always wrong" type of attitude.

                          I hope Grant starts up a new place soon, I have been craving some of his cooking for what seems like a year now.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: flying101

                            I thought the food was ok-never great, but definitely good. What I cannot stand is Jennifer Agg's patronizing attitude with vodka. As someone with Scandinavian blood, I can unequivocally distinguish grain from potato based vodkas, so there is certainly a difference in taste. And furthermore, who cares? If you don't enjoy it, don't use it in your drinks! But to go on about how vodka drinkers have no sense of taste, or only drink it to get drunk, is both culturally ignorant, and egotistical. Hilarious, since I've felt more "blasted" off one of her drinks, than one single straight shot of delicious Russian or Finnish vodka (served alongside pickles, rye bread, caviar, but no, really I'm just drinking it to get drunk...)

                            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                              that anti-vodka rant would have been amusing to read coming from some random individual. from a restaurant owner, though, it's really insulting. also the lamenting that toronto's cocktail scene is 10yrs behind, like it's a travesty or something. maybe i don't care about cocktails as much as i should. must be all that stoli i drank this morning.

                              i like the food, but the too cool for school attitude turned me off.

                              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                The vodka is stupid thing kind of got up my nose as well because the one food allergy/sensitivity we suffer in the bytepusher household is Gin. So I've had the pleasant experience of them refusing to serve my wife a Negrosky because a Negroni without Gin would be "wrong" followed by a snide comment about "someone else who thinks they are allergic to Gin"

                              2. They do accept debit... but that's beside the point.

                                The last time I went and Brandon was chef, everything was great. I too appreciated that the menu had evolved, gotten a bit lighter and more balanced.

                                I'm just curious when they change the menu periodically, how it will change compared to when Grant changed it.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: miketoronto

                                  I thought the vodka 'diatribe' was amusing and actually made some interesting and well-written points. Sure there was some lterary hyperbole to make the point but it made for an engaging read. Actually if you had of told me it was written by someone Ruhlman or Bourdain I wouldn't have blinked. I've never had a problem with Jen but I do know others have and they are certainly entitled to their opinions and experiences.

                                  http://www.charcuteriesundays.com/201...

                                2. Here's the latest article about the split. Apparently it was amicable!

                                  http://www.thegridto.com/life/food-dr...

                                  His twitter shows him out and about in the Muskokas mushroom picking.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: scarberian

                                    Ah yes. Artistic differences. I always believe that when bands say it too.

                                      1. re: grandgourmand

                                        Thank god. Place has been dying a slow death for so long. Service never did have much of an exsistance but without grant it's a no fly zone.

                                        1. re: theshiz

                                          How exactly has it been dying a slow death? The line-ups? The continued press and positive reviews from both local and international media? The praise from their peers? The succesful expansions?

                                            1. re: jamesm

                                              Line ups? Back in the day yes they had line ups. havnt seen a line up there in awhile. Successful expantion? Everyone was there for grants food and they will line up to his next venture I'm sure

                                              1. re: theshiz

                                                If you haven't seen line ups in awhile then you haven't been there in awhile. The rest of your post does nothing to answer the question how they have been 'dying a slow death' as you claimed. Do you have a point?

                                                1. re: jamesm

                                                  no i havent been there in awhile, not lying when i say ive been to this place at least 100 times, from day one the food was fantastic, pickled octopus was the best dish ever! slowly the horrendous service over ruled and i havent gone back. did they infact expand...how did that go? positive press? where jen told everyone not to drink vodka anymore, that was a great move too.
                                                  peace

                                                  1. re: theshiz

                                                    Yes, they did expand to the succesful Hoof Cafe across the street. Positive press, yes from Gordon Ramsey and recently they were voted most exciting food couple in the city by a large group of their peers as well as the subject of numerous articles in local publications and mentioned in several international food and travel magazines. They are certainly not 'dying a slow death.' As well, as it's been noted, Grant has not been cooking there for awhile so the operation is thriving regardless. I have no doubt people will line up for Grant's newest venture, whatever that is, and I will be one of them. However, you're premature in sounding the death knell for the black hoof.

                                    1. Woah! I think everybody here needs to take a shot of vodka and cool down.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: haggisdragon

                                        AAHAHAHAHAH Love it! Totally agree!

                                        1. re: haggisdragon

                                          Vodka? I never drink that. You need some Don Julio to cool down. :-)

                                        2. I went last week.
                                          The only noticeable change was to the charcuterie board.
                                          the sweatbreads we had were amazing.
                                          the beef heart tartare was great (but I prefer the smoked beef tartare, which was amazing). duck mousse w/balsam jelly was great. bone marrow was great. pork tacos were great.
                                          in all, great great great. so, same old, same old.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: atomeyes

                                            Agreed. Was there Sunday, and everything was stellar. Foie and bread pudding for dessert was out of this world.

                                            1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

                                              Black Hoof was Jen's brainchild. There are very few CHEF owned and OPERATED restaurants that succeed. There's a reason for that...Chef's are chef's...artists. Not necessarily business people.

                                              A strong front of house is always needed...her philosophy, her vision etc. Black Hoof would not be what it is without her, but it will continue to be what it is without him. Yes he's talented...do you know how many kitchens have their sous chef running the show...

                                              Yes, Jen can be cranky and customers can be very trying. And don't even get me going about the how the average patron has wrecked the whole reservation process for other diners by their gross inconsiderateness. Small businessess need to protect their business.

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

                                              1. re: LillyWolf

                                                The Black Hoof is what it is because of Grant's skills in the kitchen, and because of his skills in the kitchen he has been able to attract good sous chefs. I really don't think Jen was dictation what was on the menu. Without Grant's vision for the food, the Hoof would be a cocktail bar... and if the new executive chef leaves then Jen could be left with 2 cocktail bars directly across the street from one another.

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

                                                1. re: phisherking

                                                  Such rampant, idle speculation from all sides (though perhaps some know more than they're letting on).

                                                  I think it's clear that:
                                                  1) Grant is a talented and capable chef
                                                  2) Jen is a talented and capable manager and mixologist
                                                  3) The Hoof post-Grant is still turning out some of the city's best food

                                                  We'd all do well to wish Grant the very best in his next endeavour and wish the current Hoof all the success they deserve. Grant might screw up in his next restaurant, Jen might hire Restaurant Makeover to uglify her space, but best we leave the scorn and bile (or praise and adoration) for when we have something concrete to judge.

                                                    1. re: jamesm

                                                      Agreed, well said. Keep in my mind that it was Jen that put out the Ad for a Chef with a particular type of food in mind already. But of course a Chef brings it alive.