** Important Update – The Black Hoof has permanently closed.**
To us, Canadian cuisine is defined by rusticity and ruggedness with a touch of eccentricity.
Before our trip to Toronto, we wondered how the city’s food scene would compare to the culinary powerhouses of Montreal and Vancouver. And, after some mediocre meals in Ontario’s capital city, we were seriously questioning Toronto’s status as a “foodie” city.
As open-minded food travelers, we needed to give Toronto a fair chance to place its best culinary foot forward. That’s why we left a party on Centre Island to check out the Black Hoof. It was a Saturday night and the Black Hoof doesn’t take reservations, but a potential wait never phases us in our never-ending quest for special food when we travel.
Leaving the party was a good move. The Black Hoof finally satisfied our insatiable hunger. The food was exciting, unique and delicious. The atmosphere was busy yet relaxed. In a nutshell, the Black Hoof is our kind of restaurant.
We arrived at the Black Hoof via the 505 streetcar, which dropped us off right at Dundas and Grace. We found that there would be an hour wait and that the restaurant only takes cash and Canadian debit cards.
Not deterred, we “hoofed” it to the closest Canada Trust ATM, got cash and then found bar seats at the Hoof Raw Bar right next door. The hour wait didn’t seem so long while we indulged in an interesting cured seafood board highlighted by eclectic selections like chorizo scallops, trout with juniper and gin as well as jambalaya pickerel.
The drinks were tasty, especially the Hoof’s variation on the Caesar with pink peppercorn vodka, Piri Piri, Marmite, Worcestershire, lemon and clamato. We ate, drank and chilled to the hipster music mix that included Belle & Sebastian and the Flaming Lips.
Thanks to Yoshimi, the evil robots didn’t eat us, and, before we knew it, our table was ready. We walked next door to the flagship restaurant, where we were immediately comfortable in the dimly lit room with its stylish shabby-chic decor.
We sipped on beers while we perused the chalkboard menu. We wanted to try everything. For us, this is the ultimate good problem. The menu is meat-focused, which is certainly okay by us. Pork, beef, quail, horse (yes, horse). Our choices were limited by stomach space as opposed to the prices, which are relatively reasonable.
Our first dish was the nduja ravioli. The pasta filled with spicy, spreadable salami in an orange sauce with crumbled walnuts and pecorino transported us to Italy, while the creative citrusy sauce brought us back to Toronto.
Our second dish was Tongue on Brioche. The meat was smoked to perfection and then thinly sliced, overflowing between the buttery bread. The sandwich was topped with tarragon mayo and accompanied by mustard seeds and pickled celery.
The third dish was Foie and Waffles a/k/a foiffles. We’ve had foie gras over buckwheat pancakes and over poutine, but never over waffles. And never before with butternut squash, mustard and candied pecans dusted in Old Bay seasoning. The distinct spicy flavors of the Old Bay mixed with well with the sweetness of the maple and the toasted, nutty pecan shards.
Not quite ready to leave, we shared the dessert du jour, a peanut butter parfait, for dessert.
We had amazing food at the Black Hoof. We were impressed with every bite, and we left feeling both full and exuberant.
When we travel, a special dining experience creates a long-lasting memory and says “Hey world! We have great and interesting food in our city.” Finally, thanks to the Black Hoof, we got that kind of experience in Toronto.
The Black Hoof was located at 928 Dundas Street W, Toronto, ON M6J 1W3, Canada. It is now permanently closed.
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.