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Black Hoof..what happened??

Just came back from dinner at the Black Hoof. Black Hoof was always one of our fav. We've been there 4 or 5 times in the past, but not in the last year. But unfortunately, today's meal was a mess. We had the charcuterie board as usual, and it was good. Everything else was downhill from there. here's what we had.

Liver and Onion: Given the name, I thought it was grilled liver, but it was actually a duck pate when it arrived. Oh well. It had lots of flavour, but was really really salty. And it didn't come with any bread, as you would expect.

Tendon and Grit. This was a big disappointment. Four small bite size tendon deep fried croquet style. The tendon was cooked to almost liquid. Grilled rapini and lots of hot sauce on top. The tendon really had no flavour or texture. All we can taste was the hot sauce. Again, too salty and not a good value at $16.

Duck and black bean. This was the dish that crossed the line. For $19, one duck leg with Chinese black bean sauce and pickled cabbage. The combination did not work at all. And way over salty, as you would expect with a thick black bean sauce.

I wonder if anyone had a better experience lately. For us, we don't think we will return to the Hoof again. We could not stop drinking water after the meal from all the salt.

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  1. I haven't gone since Grant left, I feared a place where the current owner walked away from a hugely successful brunch place, then stopped a 2nd idea of a multi-course fine dinning restaurant.... only to focus on a cocktail bar... the food would go downhill at the original restaurant.

    Not to mention other key hoof people have left on to start some good food ventures.

    1. I've eaten there a fair bit since Grant left and it's been as good or better, than ever. Hopefully just an off night?

      1. I had a ridiculously good spicy horse tartare there a couple months ago. One of the best dishes of 2011 for me.

        Probably just an off night.

        1. We were there a week ago.

          Before we order, we always ask about the dishes. Its obvious to us that "liver and onion" can mean many things. At the Hoof, you never assume. Three words on a menu board don't give you the dish's intricacies. I ask about everything new on the menu so I can enjoy the chef's creativeness. So we were pleasantly surprised to find out it was a duck liver pate instead of the traditional grilled ________ liver and onions (insert animal here)

          We ordered: liver and onions, tendon and grits, raw horse tartare, pork tacos.

          It was all excellent. they suggested we order bread with out liver and onions (sucks you have to pay for bread for a dish where you need bread, but whatever). it was beautifully executed. the horse was the best out of all of them. the smatterings of nduyia mixed in with the tartare gave it such an amazing taste.

          my wife loves the tacos. i think they're good but its the least exciting and imaginative dish that the Hoof has. but they're very good tacos.

          the tendon and grits was the most creative out of the dishes we ordered. my wife found the texture to be undesireable. I really liked this dish. my other tendon experiences were gross (once at dim sum, where it was like eating a dog's snack and the other was a stringy mass put inside pho) but this was like eating a cheese-filled croquette. my only complaint (and I told Jenn) was that it could have used more hot sauce. I used the salsa from the tacos to put on the croquettes and it tasted excellent. A melted buttery hot mess!

          The only area where the Hoof's changed since Grant left is with its charcuterie. There's less focus on the board and over the past year, I found that the board's creativity has dropped slightly. Eh, no loss. the mains have certainly kicked it up a few notches and we never leave disappointed.

          Truth be told: even though Grant was the man behind the food's vision, things haven't really missed a beat since he left.

          13 Replies
          1. re: atomeyes

            I agree entirely.
            The charcuterie board was exciting when first introduced - but around my third visit I was tired of it.
            And, of course, those bemoaning Grant's departure and not having been since don't have a credible opinion anyway - especially as he was hardly seen there for 6 months before departing.
            Bread has ALWAYS been extra charge - nothing has changed. Except perhaps the server didn't ask you - last time I was there I declined - then realized it was essential for the liver and onion dish and just ordered it.

            And my recent favourite has been the blood custard.

            1. re: estufarian

              I always felt the charcuterie board was rather average there, the strong points were definitely the creativity in the small plates.

              The taco while good, is better @ Grand Electric. Colin was the creative force for tacos on the Hoof menu when he was running the show. I rather have them there.

              desserts have stepped up its game, way up.

              but man, that horse tartare.........

              1. re: aser

                I'm in two minds on that tartare.
                I LOVED the spicing - just perfect!
                But the horse (for me) didn't have that much flavour - texture and consistency were both good - but lacking in actual FLAVOUR. Horse is so lean it needs a little more fat (IMO) to punch up the taste. Also (and probably highly correlated) it was served a bit too cold - but that's probably a health requirement - or maybe I was just unlucky (I arrived at 6:00 and it could have been straight out of the fridge).

                1. re: estufarian

                  That's a good point. It's amazing how much a difference of a couple of degrees in either direction makes with a tartare in regards to flavour.

            2. re: atomeyes

              Yes, the charc board hasn't been anything I get for years now (unless I'm taking someone new) and their dishes have always been of more interest to me. They've been going strong without Grant (who did indeed leave long before officially doing so).

              That horse tartare sounds good! And better desserts now too!? Time to go back. Soon!

              1. re: jlunar

                I'm on the haven't noticed a difference in quality camp. Each time I've been over the years it has been a success. In fact, despite the adventurous dishes they attempt I've never had one that was complete failure. Some were better than others but never a disaster.

                1. re: jamesm

                  Those who haven't been getting the charcuterie board won't then have noticed how much it's changed, for my taste for the worse. Under Grant there was a flavour progression along the board and a degree of uniqueness in at least some of the items and a nod to the supposed Spanish inspiration for the name of the place. The last "cured meat" board I had there could have come straight from a deli counter in Kensington or on Roncy, and the pickled veg on the side tasted like soap.

                  Everything else thought was still very good.

                  As for a complete failure, I recall an octopus dish from Grant that was a tasteless mushy mess but that was a rarity.

                  1. re: jamesm

                    Personally I think the blood custard is a fail. I guess that's just me though because everyone else seems to love it.

                    1. re: haggisdragon

                      Badly wanted to try the custard!

                      I think Grant did great things for the food scene in TO, but I went a couple times when they first opened and was disappointed with some dishes.

                      I've been back several times since Brandon became the head chef, and i love it now. To me it went from over-rated experiments (for certain dishes) to delicious love! There are still some dishes that aren't my favourite, but its because they push out a lot of really damn creative and wonderful ones.

                      1. re: jayseeca

                        I was actually waiting for someone to say exactly what you just said, to get me to give BH another try.

                        Personally I have been twice, both in the "Grant days" and my dishes varied from "okay to good". Never once really truly blown away. It is a place I wanted to like alot more, because people whose opinions I really respect absolutely love this place.

                        Since my time in Toronto is usually limited to 1 or 2 dinners per visit, I typically try new places (Marben last vist, which was amazing) and return to favorites (Beast, Nota Bene) Hearing that someone is more impressed with the food under the new Chef would nudge me to give it another try.

                        Just to chime in on the one dish that I found really terrible though, was a Sweetbread dish I had my first visit. It tasted like Oily, badly fried Chicken and I typically love Sweetbreads.

                        1. re: Matt H

                          Exactly. The sweetbreads tasted like fried chicken, and my brain ravioli was lacking brain. I can't remember what else we had back in the day, but those stood out as disappointments.

                          Also make sure to save room for dessert! The past few times they've served up refreshing, light desserts which were a great finish.

                          1. re: jayseeca

                            plus the service is now bang on. they know their stuff, they're efficient, they clean up crumbs, replace cutlery.

                  2. re: jlunar

                    I still like the charc. It may not be super exciting but its still very very good.

                2. Having heard raves from several friends who've been there, I finally got to try Black Hoof recently: my partner was willing to take me anywhere for my birthday, and this is what I chose. It was not an unqualified success.
                  The good:
                  -Loved LOVED the bone marrow. The little toasts, the Maldon salt, the chimichurra- all divine.
                  -Liked the tongue on brioche, though the meat lacked the robust flavour I was expecting. Still very tasty.
                  -Liked the service: discreetly sweeping crumbs, replacing cutlery, server was friendly and knew his stuff. Also- having heard Jenn was not the most friendly with customers, was pleasantly surprised that she responded sweetly and efficiently to a minor complaint.
                  -Only one dessert offered, but it was imaginative and extremely tasty. Loved it.
                  The not so good:
                  -if I am spending $18 on a cheese plate (featuring tasty but TINY portions of cheese) that comes with spreadable accompaniments... why am I expected to spend extra on bread? Could a few crackers not be part of it? Strikes me as extremely mingy.
                  -Bone Marrow listed as "MP" (Market Price) on the chalkboard. It's a CHALKBOARD. Would it be too much to ask that they actually write in the figure every day, or is it the yacht of charcuterie: if you have to ask, you can't afford it?
                  -Cocktail: not as delicious as expected, really, and not for that price. My partner loved the beer list, however.
                  -The place appeared to be a bit overstaffed for such a small room: there seemed to be four guys in that tiny kitchen, in addition to the dishwashing boy, plus two bartenders and two or three servers.
                  -Partner's comment: "Sorry, but if I'm spending a hundred on dinner, I want cloth napkins, not paper!"
                  Final result: partner glad to make me happy, but after spending what I assume to be the aforementioned hundred bucks for three plates plus olives, bread, a dessert and a couple of drinks.. one of us was full, and the other was not. So from there we went up the street to Sneaky Dee's

                  for a cheeseburger. I wish I was kidding.

                  Edited to add: partner read this review over my shoulder, and commented, "I didn't want to tell you how much it cost, but honey, it was enough over a hundred bucks that saying it was that much would be misleading." Yikes.

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

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: SpiceMustFlow

                    Went there two weeks ago by myself and i had six dishes. I think the pace is better than ever, still miss having brunch three though (the bone marrow beignets!).

                    And most regulars would know that the space the cannot accommodate a grill in the first place, so i don't see how you can expect the livers to be grilled.

                    I agree with the above comments on the sweetbreads though, it's the same problem i found at Beast. They just aren't the same when deep fried as opposed to seared with clarified butter.

                    1. re: Inkou

                      They may not have a grill, but I think they do have frying pans, as "most regulars would know". Man..tough crowd here.

                      It was our fault for not asking, I'm not blaming the restaurant for that at all. If I wasn't clear in my post, it was the over kill in salts, the questionable value, and the awkward (to me) combinations that put me off.

                      It does sound like many folks continue to enjoy the restaurant and find them decent value though.

                    2. re: SpiceMustFlow

                      weird. I never complain about the prices. We always leave so stuffed. We always have 1-2 cocktails each and i think our bill's just over $100 incl tip.

                      meanwhile, you have Acadia, where I left hungry and unsatisfied and it was well over $100.

                      The Hoof's a great "deal" for what it is. Find me another resto in Canada that's serving innovative offal dishes at that price.

                      1. re: atomeyes

                        I do think its overpriced for what they are serving but they are packed so they can charge what they want. I don't really understand why they have to write market price on bone marrow bones? That doesn't make much sense to me. I buy a whole fresh beef leg bone (about 4 black hoof sevings) for $1 at a butcher.

                        Was just there, the horse tartar was good but was very oversalted. Plus I am a smoker so usually I like things saltier than others, but this was obviously way oversalted.

                        First time having the tongue and it was tasty but not amazing IMO. I would order again if I felt like a sandwich and it was $11

                        1. re: szw

                          well, everyone's entitled to an opinion. i see what you're saying about the price for bones. i have noticed that the size of the bone varies on each visit. i assume that its not overly easy to get bones.

                          disagree on the tartare, unless you had a bad batch. perhaps the n'duyia salami they put on that dish has the salt blast you didn't dig. while i'm not saying that i'm THE tartare expert, i can safely say that the Hoof's horse tartare is one of the best i've had (the honour still goes to Au Pied du Cochon's amazingly executed tartare).

                          pricewise, you're also paying for the creativity and thought that goes into the menu. like, deep frying tendon to make it like a cheese crouquette? brilliant!

                          1. re: atomeyes

                            yes maybe it was just my order that was oversalted. i still think it is a fantastic dish. I think my salt blast came from the potatoes. I found the best perfect bites had less potatoes and a good proportion of the hollandaise.

                          2. re: szw

                            Have any of you checked the price for offal recently? Bone marrow bones are $2 for a big bag at Ellas. Tongues, eyes, prairie oysters etc are really cheap. Anyone working in a restaurant who mentions "market price" for these items needs their head checked, or a kick in the oysters.

                      2. You had the worst things on the menu. The duck leg with black beans has to go. Grant is a genius, one in a million, but Brandon's no slouch. He'll find his voice. The desserts have improved vastly--not to be missed.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: meanmartin

                          Thought I would weigh in on an excellent meal we had on Saturday. For the record, when I was there on saturday, the duck and beans was not offered. We arrived at about 7:35, and were seated immediately at the bar.
                          Service was excellent. I mean, we were at the bar, so we could easily communicate with our server on what we wanted and when we wanted it. She made her (excellent) recommendations on dishes and timing, and we basically ordered as we went along. We had:
                          Charcuterie Board with Bread- Classic, but it was a must order. We order charcuterie quite often, because its always a nice agreeable option, but this one was one of the better ones I have had in the city. We got a huge selection of meats, none of which I can recall the names of, but all ranging in texture, aromatics and heat. I am still just so floored by the generosity in portions.
                          Housemade pickles- These were all really delicious, particularly the icicle pickles which had a delicious sweet element to them, but they probably could have had a better crunch factor.
                          Pork Carnitas Tacos- Originally, these come in orders of three (which, I hate because how often are there three people?!), but luckily, our server added an extra so that we didn't have to fight :) These consisted of a deliciously toasted tortilla topped with a generous dollop of guacamole, salty pork confit, and sweet and sour tomatillo salsa. Topped off with a crispy fried pork rind and a couple hits of hot sauce, and I was in taco heaven. Loved these.
                          Tongue on Brioche- Another stellar dish, though a bit harder to share (ha, but I did get the bigger half). Two slices of buttery thick cut brioche held in a mound of tender, salty, meaty tongue meat, shaved thin without any grissely fat. While I'm not always a fan of tarragon, the drizzle of tarragon mayo on top added a delicious creamy component that helped mellow some of the spice flavour of the tongue. I also adored the pickled mustard and pickled celery because it gave a sweet element that I felt complemented the Brioche nicely.
                          Foie and Nutella- Well, this one was a no-brainer for me. Nutella anything is tempting, and pair it with foie and in the words of Ina Garten, "how could it be bad?" This was a thick bed of nutella is topped with the most impossibly moist slab of banana bread and a huge piece of crispy seared foie gras, garnished with crushed hazelnuts and a rosemary gastrique. I loved the supple crunch of the hazelnuts and crust of the foie against the soft melt-in-your-mouth banana bread and the tender interior of the foie. I also really enjoyed the sweet-savoury aromatic element of the rosemary gastrique which really brightened the richness of the hazelnut smear. I hope this is never removed from the menu, or else I will have to start cooking foie in my home, which I'm just not mentally ready for.
                          Ice cream bar- At this point, I felt satisfied but as though I could handle one more, and because the meal had been so good, I just didn't want it to end. I opted for the housemade Vietnamese coffee ice cream bar. If you're a fan of mocha type desserts, this is a delicious and refreshing end to a meal (especially in our current humidity). While certainly not as inventive or delicious as the other dishes of the evening, it was technically a very good ice cream (super creamy) with a strong not-too-sweet coffee flavour. I will be interested to see what other flavours they come up with in the future.

                          So, for all of the food mentioned plus 2 cocktails, 2 glasses of wine and 1 glass of dessert wine, the bill was about $190 including tax and tip. I guess a little bit more than what we usually spend, but honestly, definitely worth it.


                          1. re: hungryabbey

                            Sounds awesome. The service there has always been stellar in my experience. I'll definitely try the fois nutella next time. Thanks for the great post!

                        2. Sorry for bumping up an old thread but I couldn't find a more recent one...

                          I saw comments from others about this tweet but didn't know the restaurant until now:


                          Is this a sign of bad customer service or bad customers? I have been hesitant to go to The Black Hoof because I get a bad "vibe" around the owner although I have never met her. Just from articles I have read in the past.

                          Is customer service quiet good there? Curious if anyone has more background story on this tweet. I think a restaurant should learn how to deal with "douche" customers for the benefits of the remaining patrons vs. just complain about them behind their backs.

                          67 Replies
                          1. re: ylsf

                            I have been there twice in the past 3 months and service is stellar.

                            as for Jen, she has personality. and i respect that. even if it is not what i would do. and in fact, i have a feeling her fans totally get her.

                            1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                              "even if it is not what i would do". Odd that you would favourite that tweet, then.

                                1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                                  it is an impressively gutsy tweet. i respect her authenticity. it is NOT me. it is NOT what i would do. many people disagree with me, and i them. but that does not mean i cannot like them. or respect them. or favourite them. or follow them.

                                  1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                                    I don't think "gutsy" is at all appropriate. Maybe an incredibly "douchey" tweet? Perhaps she was looking in the mirror when she sent that tweet?

                                    Is this a "gutsy" post or a "douchey" post?

                                    I'd lean towards the latter - but I'm making a point.

                                  2. re: KhaoSanRoad

                                    Because many (including me) would interpret that as endorsing or condoning that type of behaviour, or disposition...

                                    1. re: justxpete

                                      fair enough, you are probly right. i didnt consider that, and ok that i didnt. i can appreciate things that do not agree with myself or what i would do. but i will not be judging her either for this one. i dont know her personally, but i respect her food & her service. this does not change that for me.

                                      you are, of course, free to feel how you wish about a "favourite", tho i should also tell you i find grant soto very entertaining and yet i wouldnt condone his behaviour at gravitas either.

                                      1. re: justxpete

                                        I completely agree with jxp fundamentally, but because it is her resto, and her success or failure, and she isn't saving any lives, there is room to favourite the tweet even if you know/believe it is absurd. I think in a case like this..."endorsing" that behaviour keeps it honest. She can then decide from where to learn her lessons.

                                        1. re: justsayn

                                          Fair enough, but, to me, to favourite that tweet, reflects (rightly or wrongly) on KSR as well, and, if the intention is to endorse that behaviour (as it might be interpreted), then that potentially impacts KSR's business as well. As in, it causes me pause to say, "I wonder if KSR feels that level of disdain for his customers as well?"

                                          1. re: justxpete

                                            maybe you need to follow me on twitter, i love almost all my customers. but i am human, and have also not like a very select few. i have had some bad customers, almost always they return to apologize for their poor behaviour.

                                            i doubt she hates her customers, even at that moment. but sometimes one can get frustrated with a couple customers and it can make a very tough day. it takes a special person to take the regular abuse hangry customers can give. i know i have to fend off grumpy patrons to protect my employees from abuse often.

                                            btw, i favourited it, i did not retweet it.

                                        2. re: justxpete

                                          Really? KSR didn't retweet it into their timeline; you had to go looking for more information on that tweet in order to know it was favourited by them. And people favourite for a number of reasons! Perhaps people need to start putting another line in their bio... "favourites are not endorsements."

                                          And I agree that it was gutsy. Stupid, too? Maybe...

                                          1. re: ramenramen

                                            No, "favourites" do not appear in ones' timeline as a rule - but to me, much like a Facebook "like", a Twitter "favourite" is an endorsement - as if to say, thumbs up - but of course, people will interpret things differently. I would think that to most, "favourites" are endorsements. For me, they certainly are, where as if I "retweet" something, I'm not necessarily agreeing with it, I may just be bringing attention to it. The intricacies of social networking, perhaps?

                                            1. re: justxpete

                                              btw, i am enjoying this exchange too. tho this may not be the best place for it. it can be educational.

                                            2. re: ramenramen

                                              I can't imagine liking or favouriting something that I do not endorse on some level.

                                              1. re: justsayn

                                                I endorse the guts. Which are offal. Some may say is awful. But it is all black hoof.

                                                  1. re: justsayn

                                                    i sometimes "favourite" tweets to bookmark them to use/read later.

                                                    1. re: LemonLauren

                                                      Endorsed as worth sharing, or as a reference.

                                          2. re: KhaoSanRoad

                                            I think you handled such a situation better in the past already. Kick out the customer(s) giving you the issue (if I recall correctly from one of your past tweets) vs. mocking them and potentially leaving other customers in the restaurant feeling like they are the "douches"

                                            1. re: ylsf

                                              That's my take on it too. Obviously she's free to do whatever she wants but venting on Twitter doesn't make things better for those in the restaurant and it actually insults (and embarrasses) a lot of people who may have been perfectly polite. Plus, I'd be reluctant to go now for fear that any perceived misstep would be shared with the public rather than taken up with me directly.

                                              1. re: piccola

                                                How many customers tweet passive-aggressively about restos? She's human, reacting just like we do.

                                                1. re: LemonLauren

                                                  Not saying it's any better when customers do it - it's always better to speak to the manager/owner/whatever and give them the chance to fix things.

                                                  But in any case, customers have less to lose when they misbehave. A restaurant owner who lashes out that way risks losing a lot of business.

                                          3. re: ylsf

                                            Yikes... I hope that's an April Fool's joke.

                                            I get that any service industry has it's tough day but you rant to your partners or fellow staffers... not to the customers. It makes me hesitant to go back there (and it's been on my list to return for months since Raw Bar opened).

                                            1. re: ylsf

                                              I went in there once - that type of attitude and lack of respect for her customers is EXACTLY why I've never returned - nor will I.

                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                the customer isn't always right, and sometimes, the customer is a prick, and while i don't necessarily agree with public shaming jen is absolutely within her rights to call an unnamed group of probably really awful people douches on the internet if she wants to

                                                i'll take personality over bland kowtowing to the whims and cries of a customer base that has become increasingly diluted/douchey

                                                1. re: disgusti

                                                  I'll take professionalism over attitude any day? If you think all/most of your customers on a given night are "douches", then maybe it's you, not them? Or maybe it's the type of clientelle your restaurant attracts? which ultimately, might be your responsibility? The time for self-reflection might be nigh?

                                                  1. re: justxpete

                                                    Man, a whole lot of monocles being dropped in horror.

                                                    The customers were being awful to her staff, so she called them douches. If you are behaving as an awful human being, then you deserve to be put on blast.

                                                    The customer is not always right, it's her place, and if you have such a problem with it, simply don't frequent it.

                                                    1. re: themiguel

                                                      What makes a douche is entirely subjective. Maybe these people just lingered too long or made a mistake in their ordering.

                                                      Or maybe they were actually jerks, in which case a good manager/owner tells them directly that their behaviour is unacceptable and has to change or else they'll be asked to leave.

                                                      Of course she's allowed to do whatever she wants; I don't think anyone is arguing for censorship. But I don't think it's a good idea, either.

                                                  2. re: disgusti

                                                    I agree with justxpete. If she had said "Dear people being huge douches right now", or "Dear people in here being awful to my staff", then I'd be totally fine with that. She would be clearly calling out some particular people that were being douches at that moment.

                                                    That's not what she said, though. She said "Dear (almost) everyone in here right now". That is clearly indicting basically the whole restaurant which, unless this was some sort of incredibly exceptional night (and there's nothing in her tweet to make me think it is), seems to be an indictment of her customers in general.

                                                    Why would I want to be a customer of a restaurant that thinks of me as a douche just for being a customer? I've always had good service there, but when someone's restaurant is so successful that they think that they can look down on their customers as a result, then they've lost my business.

                                                      1. re: MissBingBing

                                                        No, I come to conclusions based on observation. It's how the world works.

                                                        1. re: Strongbad789

                                                          Stunning how that process works. Some are not so familiar!

                                                      2. re: Strongbad789

                                                        If you're worried that a restaurant thinks that you're a douche, odds are that you indeed are a douche.

                                                        And Justxpete: complaining about a restaurant you've been to ONCE and an owner that you state you have NOT interacted with is more of an indictment of you and not Ms Agg. I've owned my own business for almost a decade and i will tell you flat out that i love my customers but you do get some a-holes/douches. can't love them all. and if you're a business owner who doesn't get any douches, then you're lying to us and yourself. turning the other cheek is another story, and good for Ms Agg for standing her ground. the customer is not always right. and if you're a successful business, you have earned the right (financially) to decide who you want to be your customer and who you don't want to be your customer.

                                                        All of you feigning shock and horror better have feather-lined floors in your houses. all that fainting from the trials and tribulations of every day life...ye gods! how you get by. Calgon, take them away!

                                                        p.s. her food is still killer, her vision is still great. The Hoofs are probably the most important restaurants Toronto has seen in the past 25 years. think about it and tell me I'm wrong, because I'm not. since they opened, most new restaurants try to imitate what the Hoof does - offal, charcuterie, bone marrow, intelligent cocktails.

                                                        1. re: atomeyes

                                                          I've stated in previous posts that my unwillingness to return to BH was a result of a negative interaction, specifically with the proprietor. So I'm not sure to what you're referring.

                                                          Are you saying the other night that they kicked everyone out of the restaurant? Or did they take their money and then complain about them on twitter? Do you take your customers' money, or refuse them at the door? If she has a right to call them out as douches' on twitter, does that mean that others do not have the same right to call her as they will, on twitter or other? Is there a double standard here? Is not everyone entitled to their own opinion, or is that reserved for proprietors in the food industry?

                                                          Also, I thought you stated (several times) that you weren't going to post on CH anymore? Seems you come out of the wood work just to defend BH on occasion despite how much you supposedly hate it.


                                                          Ingrates? Really? Because someone's opinion differs from yours?

                                                          And, if your restaurant is filled with what you might feel is a room full of douches, then maybe you're attracting the wrong clientelle.

                                                          Lastly, rate the chow, not the hound(s).

                                                          1. re: justxpete

                                                            i bet he's referring to the fact that who gives a hell, jen is a human being and business owner and is allowed to express her displeasure over any forum she so chooses. apparently her standards of professionalism differ from yours, and if you already have a negative opinion of her as you've said already then obviously you're gonna get riled up over this

                                                            whoooooo caaaaaares

                                                            1. re: disgusti

                                                              No one is saying that she's not allowed to express her opinion. She's more than entitled. But, I'm also allowed to react to it and discuss it, as are others, which is what made this thread re-surface. She's seemingly at odds with her own restaurant - which I find both surprising and amusing.

                                                          2. re: atomeyes

                                                            OK Let's dial back the hyperbole a bit.
                                                            "Most important restaurant in 25 years" - I don't think so!
                                                            Try, for example, Splendido which has allowed multiple chefs to develop (e.g. David Lee, Victor Barry, Patrick Kriss, Nick Liu, Michael Steh, David Chrystian, Suzanne Baby - and many, many, more) as well as front-of-the-house staff at too many restaurants to list.
                                                            Indeed Jen prokes strong reactions - both positive and negative, and many of us find it harder to forget toes being trodden on than egos being stroked.
                                                            Ultimately, I really only care about the food, which has been consistently good while weathering the passing through of surprisingly numerous chefs. That, in itself, speaks volumes about the owner.
                                                            Now back to the food please.

                                                            1. re: estufarian

                                                              I didn't even bother addressing some of the laughably absurd claims.

                                                            2. re: atomeyes

                                                              Chris McDonald ( Cava, Avalon, etc) , and Marc Thuet (Thuet Cuisine, Atelier Thuet, etc) and many other chefs were doing offal, charcuterie & bone marrow WAY before the Hoof was even conceived... Only thing Hoof did was to package it in a "hole in the wall" in a "not so desirable" area of town and called it "new"... They had the perfect timing to attract the Douches .. sorry I meant Hipsters, and boom the rest is history... Don't get me wrong they deliver a great product and experience but no way are they the most important restaurant in 25 years... maybe as a stretch the most important restaurant for 25 year olds...

                                                              1. re: pourboi

                                                                "maybe as a stretch the most important restaurant for 25 year olds..."

                                                                Give this man a prize.

                                                                1. re: pourboi

                                                                  I'll take your bait. why not.

                                                                  doing offal and inspiring a new generation of kitchens to do offal are 2 different things. the hole in the wall and alcohol-focused resto-bars replaced what guys like Jamie Kennedy and Susur Lee were doing. with the downturn in the economy came restaurants that were affordable and enjoyable to people of all walks of life. you can go to Grand Electric and get loaded and stuffed for $50. try that at Splendido...which you can't unless you have an expense account through work.

                                                                  It's funny...we were at Splendido for their pre-Christmas lunch. you know, splurge for once. the music was what you hear in a spa. Lots of Enya. you go to the Hoof or Chantecler (another hipster joint, i guess) and there's actually good, cool music playing. my wife and i get excited to hear Real Estate or Shearwater playing at a restaurant. call us hipsters. or call us the new wave of diners, i really don't care. but i'm guessing that i'm probably the Hoof's target audience, since i dig the wait staff, music, drinks and ambiance. it is a shame that no one tucks a nappy into my lap or pushed in my chair when i sit, tut tut...

                                                                  the Hoof begat Grand Electric, Electric Mud, Hopgood's Foodliner and Bar Isabel. that's one hell of a list. and i can wear my Fred Perry loafers in each and every one of those places and they don't care.

                                                                  by the way, as a polite frame of reference, you calling the Great Unwashed "hipsters" is akin to your parents/grandparents calling anyone remotely cool a "mod" or "rocker". it is such a silly label. it is the Boston Pizza-esque "you're a Foodie" version of ridiculousness. so stop.

                                                                  1. re: atomeyes

                                                                    I am glad you took the bait...brought some value to the monotonous thread.

                                                                    Further, so glad to hear there are others puking every time the terms "hipster" and "douche" are thrown around like they are the same thing....or anything for that matter.

                                                                    1. re: atomeyes

                                                                      I actually think the service at the Hoof is very comparable to Splendido. Jeggings vs trousers aside, both restaurant's servers are always clearing, resetting, and being on top of your order - with a smile.

                                                                      1. re: atomeyes

                                                                        You mean the big fine dining places that the "old guard" opened in the downturn like Chris McDonalds Cava, Jamie Kennedys Gilead and Thuets Atelier in Liberty Village? All were and some still places in "non-prime" locations serving tapas portions... Only thing Hoof did was to turn the music up a bit and have a chef that was relatively unknown and young... because the "target market" did not want to eat from the chefs that cooked for their parents...

                                                                        And if you want one hell of a "Begat" list start at Centro in the 90's and see who begat whom...

                                                                        As for your Fred Perry loafers ... you say they don't care.. but they still call you a douche on Twitter!

                                                                        1. re: pourboi

                                                                          "because the "target market" did not want to eat from the chefs that cooked for their parents... " I don't think that's why. The Hoof vibe was different and attracted them. Hoof deserves credit for developing that niche. Thuet could have pulled off the exact same thing had he attempted it, in fact his King S restos did an ok job attracting them.

                                                                          1. re: justsayn

                                                                            Now this is a useful and fun conversation. I was going to write that I don't think Atomeyes is that crazy to say that Hoof is one of the most influential (or THE most influential) resto of the past couple of decades.

                                                                            I'm not sure where all the love of Thuet is coming from here. He has a crazy larger than life personality but how many restaurants and concepts did he open and close within a year or two?

                                                                            I think I read CH pretty thoroughly and I dont think I have ever seen a recco for someone to go check out a Thuet place as a must visit in Toronto.

                                                                            The Black Hoof, like it or not, is the culinary reference point for the city, and its spiritual successors (Grand Electric et. al) represented a new aesthetic and style of feeding people in Toronto that has become the most prevalent trend in the city.

                                                                            And no, Thuet's King Street places did not do a good job of attracting the same kind of folks that the Hoof did. Those joints gave off the same King West nonsense vibe that Spice Route or any Khabouth place did.

                                                                            1. re: themiguel

                                                                              Back when Thuet was a destination he posted on here and got himself banned. In fact every mention of the name of his resto was swiftly removed...it was banned. This pre-dates CNET/CBS. That is why you don't see it.

                                                                              His inability to keep success afloat has nothing to do with his ability to market well, and serve great things. In fact...that describes many a passionate chef...

                                                                              His brunch attracted the unexpected and we will need to agree to disagree. I went often and have a pretty clear memory of it.

                                                                          2. re: pourboi

                                                                            The post (way up thread) specifically talked about the influence of restos that opened in last 25 years - hence Centro doesn't qualify.
                                                                            Also, NONE of Cava, Gilead and Atelier could reasonably be classed as "big fine dining places".
                                                                            Also Hoof wasn't the first (by decades) to "turn the music up".
                                                                            And having a young chef wasn't the "only thing" that the Hoof did either.

                                                                            While I sometimes(often?) agree with your views, using wrong 'facts' just confuses this issue. And potentially begats a long 'off-topic' thread.

                                                                            1. re: estufarian

                                                                              Centro had it 25 anniversary in the fall of 2012 - how does it not qualify? because it opened 25 1/4 years ago? Now that is splitting hairs..

                                                                              "NONE of Cava, Gilead and Atelier could reasonably be classed as big fine dining places" - YES! that was my point.. these "big fine dining" chefs ALSO opened smaller more casual spaces but people only focus on their big fine dining ventures..

                                                                              My point was the Hoof is not that different.. and is not a "Game changer".. the times have changed, restaurants have changed with it. Calling a restaurant that has only been open a few years the best thing in 25 years belittles the history of the places that came before it.. Without the Kennedys, the Susurs, the Thuets, the Statlanders of the industry pushing the boundries and many times failing you would not have a city that could support places like the Hoof, the Electric Twins, Woodlot and others...

                                                                              1. re: pourboi

                                                                                This is a good point. Disagree with everything else, but one shouldn't forget that Toronto's current awesome dining environment was built on the backs of those folks.

                                                                                1. re: pourboi

                                                                                  I guess I missed the sarcasm! Or parsed the English differently.
                                                                                  Certainly I misssed the point (in the previous post that I responded to) that you thought the Hoof was "not that different".

                                                                                  1. re: pourboi

                                                                                    Well said on all accounts, PourBoi. Couldn't agree more!

                                                                              2. re: atomeyes

                                                                                Also, no disrespect to Splendido, which was and is still a wonderful restaurant, but a lot of those chefs it developed didn't really go on to do anything that exciting or groundbreaking in Toronto but offer the same high-end/corporaty take on haute dining that has sustained Toronto for so long.

                                                                                I mean really: Reds, Drake Hotel (the restaurant), Hart House, Nota Bene. This is what Splendido has begot? Ill take the Hoof progeny any day of the week.

                                                                                1. re: themiguel

                                                                                  and in 10 years will people be writing:

                                                                                  Also, no disrespect to the Black Hoof, which was and is still a wonderful restaurant, but a lot of those chefs it developed didn't really go on to do anything that exciting or groundbreaking in Toronto but offer the same tapas/hipstery take on bar dining that has sustained Toronto for so long.

                                                                                  Is waiting in line for an hour for a place with around 30 seats to eat one of 9 items on the menu (when 5 of them are tacos) while listening to "too loud" music ground breaking?

                                                                                  I could say the Pizza Libretto is more ground breaking in the last 5 years as how many Italian Thin crust pizza places and enoteca's have opened since them? Or Burger Priest (or who ever was first its all a blur) bringing in the "Burger Revolution"..

                                                                                  Before Splendido and Centro all fine dining was pretty much relagated to the big Hotels. They were pioneers and game changers in the late 80s. Will the Black Hoof still exist in 22 years? I doubt it...

                                                                                  1. re: pourboi

                                                                                    this is insane. yes, those concepts were groundbreaking in toronto. grand electric predates la carnita, 7 lives, and i'm sure some other places that i'm unaware of.

                                                                                    libretto is not a groundbreaking restaurant. it's a great pizza place and it deserves recognition but it did not blast open any doors to allow any new chefs to take the reins and develop a menu, it makes pizzas for people willing to wait those precious hours in line. and the burgers priest did not have anything to do with a burger revolution. there were dozens of burger joints all over toronto, they just happened to be the first one to do it well.

                                                                                    this is a goofy conversation

                                                                                      1. re: disgusti

                                                                                        I think La Carnita was doing pop-ups before Grand Electric opened no? Yes, their restaurant came after..

                                                                                        Anyway, this thread is definitely changing into a totally different discussion but interesting none the less.

                                                                                      2. re: pourboi

                                                                                        Terroni was long before Libretto (20 years) and even they weren't the first to popularize so-called gourmet thin-crust pizza in Toronto.

                                                                                        1. re: pourboi

                                                                                          Maybe I'm missing sarcasm again, but:

                                                                                          "Before Splendido and Centro all fine dining was pretty much relagated to the big Hotels" ?!!!?

                                                                                          Where to start............

                                                                                          But I do agree that so far Hoof Chefs have only contributed to a trend rather than a revolution (my words NOT yours).

                                                                                          I asssume the Libretto comment is 'true sarcasm'!

                                                                                          1. re: estufarian

                                                                                            Yes I need to start adding a #sarcasm hash tag... :-)

                                                                                      3. re: atomeyes

                                                                                        I don't really give a.... about this argument. I just have to say the Boston Pizza commercial is fucking awesome.

                                                                                    1. re: atomeyes

                                                                                      What did I ever do to you that you are calling me an ingrate!

                                                                                      I am offended....

                                                                                      ok, not really..

                                                                                      Anyway, I agree with justxpete in the sense that I think it is better that she actually stand up for her staff in the moment and deal with the issue at hand vs. just tweet about it to the world. I don't know what she did to handle the situation in the end but if the customers were behaving poorly towards the staff I would have much more respect for her right to kick them out and I wouldn't fault her for that. To talk in such generalities, it just feels to me that she doesn't like her customers from that one tweet... and, in the context of some other stuff I had heard about her(i.e. the references to the vodka based drinks already made in this thread/etc) I kind of wondered how others interpreted it that have been there/etc. There was a lot of reaction to it on Blogto/twitter/etc so it is interesting to see how CHers are reacting.

                                                                                  2. re: disgusti

                                                                                    And sometimes the customer unwittingly asks for a vodka-based cocktail in a restaurant, and gets treated with contempt.

                                                                                2. re: ylsf

                                                                                  Since it's from The Hoof's account, I'd argue that they're complaining about them right to their faces. This is something I'd think is better uttered on a personal (and private) twitter account, but hey, Jen Agg has never been shy about voicing her thoughts.

                                                                                  All that aside, I've always had good service at The Hoof and the servers there are always lovely and knowledgable. Haven't been in several months, and I should totally go back.

                                                                                  1. re: ylsf

                                                                                    I love the Hoof. And I've never had anything but polite service - from Jen or anyone else.

                                                                                    No reservations on a Saturday night on a weekend with several days closures (for restaurants). Seems like a recipe for hassles all round.
                                                                                    Occasionally I've been 'encouraged' out when there's a line-up (by the bill being presented without asking) - but I don't linger anyway if there's a line-up (which I'm sure there was around 8:00pm on a Saturday night).

                                                                                    1. re: ylsf

                                                                                      "Is this a sign of bad customer service or bad customers?"

                                                                                      It's the sign of a frustrated owner. Or it could even have been said in fun. "Douche" is so overused it doesn't hold particularly negative connotations any more.

                                                                                    2. Hey, folks, we've taken quite a few posts out of the discussion of the douche tweet. It's fine to share your opinion of the situation (though we'd really prefer you shared your opinion of the food), but your opinion of other posters in this thread is not something that's appropriate to post. Please remember to rate chow, not chowhounds.

                                                                                      1. Chris Nutall-Smith writes about the incident and how restauranteurs are dealing with complaints by using social media in today's Globe and Mail.

                                                                                        He also says "Spend more than five minutes on the food-discussion site Chowhound and a pattern emerges: A solid 65 per cent of the writers are actually Kim Jong-un"

                                                                                        16 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: hal2010

                                                                                          Well that's progress, talk to most industry people and they're convinced we're all, every single one of us, avatars of Satan himself.

                                                                                          1. re: bytepusher

                                                                                            Best and most accurate comment - "But in this case I wonder if the jerk restaurateur and the jerk customer deserve each other."

                                                                                            My sentiment, exactly.

                                                                                          2. re: hal2010

                                                                                            I'd like to thank Kim Jong-Un, without whom this post would be impossible.
                                                                                            Oh, and also my family and friends and agent.

                                                                                            1. re: hal2010

                                                                                              dude got embarrassed by his unprofessionalism on chowhound and now takes a liking to slagging the posters on his personal soapbox.

                                                                                              just stop, it's not a good look.

                                                                                                  1. re: aser

                                                                                                    Unprofessionalism? He got owned by Charles... then sulked back under his bridge.

                                                                                                    And ya, "he mad", but I think it's hilarious!

                                                                                                    I just went through some of his old posts... he clearly has an extraordinarily talented (and patient) editor.

                                                                                                    1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                      I must have missed this episode - what happened?

                                                                                                      1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                        Curious for some more info too, maybe a link to that thread?

                                                                                                        EDIT - K, did some digging, this seems to be the one that justxpete is referring too:


                                                                                                        Charles post is around June 25, 2012
                                                                                                        and Chris responds. I think the expression "if you don't have anything nice to say....".. applies here... I will keep quiet :)

                                                                                                        1. re: ylsf

                                                                                                          Some of the posts have been deleted.. but you get the gist.


                                                                                                          ... and ever since he's apt to occasionally rag on Twitter about CH. It's all pretty damn funny.

                                                                                                          1. re: ylsf

                                                                                                            Oh, I see. Not particularly flattering, but based on the comments here I was expecting a total meltdown. :)

                                                                                                            1. re: piccola

                                                                                                              I think some of it was pruned... notice T.Long is also engaged.

                                                                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                Good point. But now I'm extra curious about what's missing!

                                                                                                                1. re: piccola

                                                                                                                  Just follow CNS on twitter... he chirps about CH every few weeks. I think CH is where he gets most of his 'tips' from.

                                                                                                    2. Jen Agg is talking on Newstalk 1010 right now with Jerry Agar

                                                                                                      Metioned the story to a friend yesterday, she was like "yeah, I followed her for a few days but I couldn't handle her aggression so I unfollowed". I think the CNS article is bring attention to it again, heard them talk about it on the radio last night too.

                                                                                                      1. Ate here last week for the first time ('no reservations' is only a blessing when you haven't planned your evening... and I hadn't).

                                                                                                        The food was very enjoyable. The only thing that I didn't really care for was the bone marrow - not that it was BAD, just that it was very ordinary.

                                                                                                        But I liked everything else. And I particularly loved the foie waffle, more than I think I would've liked the nutella. And I really liked the dessert - which is a conundrum for the future when I won't share the waffle.

                                                                                                        Service was great. Re-folding a used napkin is well meant but misguided (leave it or replace it...) But that was the only misstep in otherwise outstanding service which included help ordering (suggesting that we didn't need the big bread portion) and attentive, well-paced dining.

                                                                                                        I'm never sure if I want to post my website here... hmm.
                                                                                                        Pix here: http://www.thisiswhyimfat.net/mt/blog...

                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: randomthoughts

                                                                                                            The refolded napkin thing has, for better or worse become a standard part of the service at a lot of places, had the oddball experience at a Michelin 2 star in Spain of the server coming to the table with a 4 spoons, two in each hand and used them like tongs to refold the napkin without touching it...

                                                                                                            1. re: bytepusher

                                                                                                              Yes, I don't mind that. In the full review, I mentioned that the super high-end restaurants they often have dedicated staff to do those tasks (clear plates, brush off tablecloth), and even then they often use tongs.

                                                                                                              (I think Picasso did the spoon thing but since I was the one who left the table, I didn't get to see it.)

                                                                                                              Given that they're paper napkins, they could just replace.

                                                                                                              It's not a huge deal, I guess... after all, they're clearing plates, usually.

                                                                                                              1. re: randomthoughts

                                                                                                                To state the obvious, only because it hasn't been clear, a napkin is dirty and shouldn't be handled by a server, or vice versa, hence the tongs. Either the folding with a servers hands or tongs, it's meant to show that you are being looked after. What I do is just fold it myself to leave the table looking neat, and of course touch everything with my grubby hands on the way to the loo while picking my teeth with my finger nail.

                                                                                                          2. Looks like Jen Egg is back... in pog form! (obscure Simpsons reference, pay no mind)


                                                                                                            Things she hates:

                                                                                                            Jammy Cabs from Cali (and thinks her palate is better than people who enjoy them).
                                                                                                            Truffle Oil
                                                                                                            Food trends
                                                                                                            (while having tacos, pork belly & olives on her menu).

                                                                                                            and, last but not least... Chowhound! lol.

                                                                                                            (while also adding that Yelp is awesome)

                                                                                                            17 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                Still a big fan of Jen.
                                                                                                                Even though I am offended by her opinion on yelp over chowhound, and distain of bromances (it's spectacular in action), her don't-give-a-sh twitter feeds are always refreshing.

                                                                                                                1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                  Overall I have to respect her fearless asshole streak. It's something that's harder for women to get away with (men who do the same are geniuses, etc). But it's funny that she'd blame food bloggers for just wanting to "put words on the internet", and then prefer yelp over chowhound. Although we do have some self-important "personalities" here, yelp seems to be largely about building your brand as a yelper. IMHO the majority of CHers are just about sharing info anonymously. The blogger types go start blogs instead....

                                                                                                                  1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                    I would still bet dollars to doughnuts she has a CH handle. At least from before hoof opened. Her ego is just too big. While I'm kinda jealous, IMHO.

                                                                                                                    1. re: fryerlover

                                                                                                                      She certainly doesn't mince words does she? Good for her.

                                                                                                                      1. re: petek

                                                                                                                        The "bro support network" is so true. "Crushing it bro! Killing the _____ game!

                                                                                                                  2. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                    "Food trends
                                                                                                                    (while having tacos, pork belly & olives on her menu)."

                                                                                                                    Well, the Taco's are on there as Colin's dish that will stay on the menu. Olives...are a food trend?

                                                                                                                    1. re: szw

                                                                                                                      Tacos were on there for a reason? Each chef that has a dish on there? Isn't odd that each of those chefs that happened to have left a dish on the menu is part of the current trends that she's railing about? If she was really adamant about it, wouldn't she remove those dishes, and use another dish from each of those respective chefs?

                                                                                                                      And I see warmed olives/olives on just about every menu these days.

                                                                                                                      I'm also unsure of how many female head chefs/sous chefs/line cooks she's employed (as per her railing against the bro' network and such), can anyone provide any info?

                                                                                                                      1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                        Maybe some of the chefs she hired were transgender, or cross-dressers, so we will never really have an answer to your question!

                                                                                                                        1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                          deleted, didn't want to get caught up in derail.

                                                                                                                          1. re: szw

                                                                                                                            Yeah, I dunno. She's railing against food trends but has almost every food trend on her menu. Seems odd. I also made an effort to listen to some of the actual interview, as painful and nauseating as it was.

                                                                                                                            Also, I think we all love/hate Chowhound. :)

                                                                                                                      2. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                        Sometimes I feel like I channel Jen a bit in her good and bad.

                                                                                                                        I too hate jammy wine of any sort but my fav to hate is from down under.

                                                                                                                        Truffle oil should be illegal and restaurants who make me smell it shut down.

                                                                                                                        People lacking common sense or ability to apply logic should be shot - not really but maybe forced to live together somewhere far far away from me.

                                                                                                                        And like her, at time, I believe my opinion is the only one that matters!

                                                                                                                        1. re: JennaBean

                                                                                                                          I love big jammy cabs from Cali. It's not just about the flavour profile for me, it's also about the viscosity/texture and 'mouth feel'. I tend to dislike younger, lighter and medium bodied reds for the same reason. Older reds (15 or 20 years +) always seem to agree with me, regardless.

                                                                                                                          Truffle oil is a fine substitute at home when you don't have $300 for a home cooked meal featuring truffles.

                                                                                                                          1. re: justxpete

                                                                                                                            And why you love big jammy wines is the exactly why I hate them. I hate the mouth feel and texture.

                                                                                                                            Nothing in this life will ever convince me that truffle oil is ok. I would go the rest of my life with never having another thing with truffle if my choice was truffle oil. I just find it vile.

                                                                                                                            And that's part of what makes us the type of food people we are. We care enough to have opinions. We take time to find the things we love. We try to guide those who don't care as much as we do and generally try to make the food world a better place... without truffle oil in it! ;-)

                                                                                                                            1. re: JennaBean

                                                                                                                              Technically it's the exact same chemical which is why it smells the exact same. :P

                                                                                                                                1. re: szw

                                                                                                                                  There's good truffle oil and bad truffle oil. There are lots of restaurants that use too much bad truffle oil.

                                                                                                                                  It's not much more complicated than that.