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Sunday, May 27, 2012

[Toronto] The Black Hoof

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLocation Review:
938 Dundas St. W.
Toronto, ON

So I haven't been very diligent in the past month with this blog, and as a result I've had a backlog of restaurants to write up. So much that I ended up visiting the restaurant of today's review:  The Black Hoof (@theblackhoof) twice before I got a chance to review it. But the good news is, that is a good indication of how much I liked it.

When I went to Chicago, I visited a restaurant named The Purple Pig. My brother in law Nelson mentioned that it reminded him of  The Black Hoof, with both restaurants serving the most obscure parts of the animal. It's pretty ironic how these internal organs and far-fetched body parts which I thought only Chinese cultures would consume are so mainstream in Western cuisine now a days. But when you have someone like Jenn Agg (@theblackhoof) behind the restaurant and Brandon Olsen as head chef (@King_of_ginger), it's no wonder how the most obscure ingredients can become such a culinary delight. It's also been highly regarded as one of the best restaurants in Toronto!

So anyways, for simplicity's sake I've just decided to dump both of my visits into one post.

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The Black Hoof

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Like most eateries on the west side, the place is very very small. It also doesn't help that they don't take reservations, but both times I've been here I didn't have to wait.

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You can tell that the menu isn't very descriptive, so it really helps that the servers are there to help out in this department. As they bring you each dish, they will explain to you exactly what it's made of, which I thought was both informative and interesting.

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Between each dish, your server will come to collect your used plates and utensils, as well as give you new ones for your next dish. I really wonder how many plates they must have to wash every dinner service?

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Blood Custard ($8)

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Have you ever had something that was good, but it just wasn't down your alley? I think this Blood Custard is a perfect example for me. A ramekin of congealed pig's blood topped off with an assortment of pear, shallots, beets, and other garnishes. The top was torched crunchy so it was almost like eating creme brulee....just with pig's blood.

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Bone Marrow ($8)

On the menu, the Bone Marrow is marked as market price, which for us turned out to be $8. Each order comes with a halved bone, exposing the oily and gelatinized bone marrow on the inside. Unfortunately for us, ours was a relatively slender piece, rendering only a small amount of bone marrow. It does come with a few peices of bread to spread your precious bone marrow on, but for what you get, I don't think it was worth the price tag.

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Beef Heart and Mussels ($15)

A beautiful pairing of beef heart, lemon aioli, sauteed rapinni, mussel mayo, bread crumbs. The beef heart is seared so that it has a nice cooked flavour on the outside and raw tenderness on the inside. I thought the lemon aioli went great with the mussels which were tossed in a light mayo, and the combination of that with the beef heart just worked wonderfully. This just came to me, does this count as surf and turf?

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Beef Tendon and Grits ($16)

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I didn't particular enjoy the Tendon and Grits, simply because I didn't think the textures really worked for me. The tendon was very mushy and lacked a bit of elasticity, and it didn't help that the grits was similar in texture.

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Spicy Horse Tartare ($16)

Not ever having tried horse before, I was pretty excited when this Spicy Horse Tartare came. What would it taste like? And the answer to that is: delicious! The horse tartare is ground up and incorporated into a bed of hickory sticks, caper hollandaise, and herbs. It was fresh, light, and well balanced in both flavour and contrasting textures. Perhaps my favourite dish!

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Albacore Tuna Crudo ($14)

I've had raw tuna in many forms before, but this Albacore Tuna Crudo was really something. I don't know how, but this tuna was unbelievably soft and smooth --fluffy almost! Not a single tough spot was so fresh. The fish wasn't very strong in flavours, but thats where the garlic, parsnips, and powerful black olive oil drizzle comes in.

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Tongue on Brioche ($14)

If you're looking for something to fill you up at the Black Hoof, this would be the appropriate order. The picture makes it seem otherwise, but the Tongue on Brioche comes jam packed with a substantial amount of meat between those two slices of brioche. Not that I'm complaining, because the meat is so tender and thinly sliced that it almost melts in your mouth. Slap on some of that tarragon mayo, and this is one unforgettable sandwich!

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Pork Carnitas Tacos ($11)

An order of the Pork Carnita Tacos comes with three thin tortillas topped with an appropriate amount of lightly pulled pork and avacado. The little orange piece on the side is a chicharrón: a deep fried pork rind with some interesting spices on it. I taste hints of cinnamon but I'm not too sure exactly how it is seasoned. All I know is that when crumbled on top of the tacos, it was delicious!

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Pork Belly and Nori ($16)

Underneath that pile of honey mushrooms and crisped rice, lies a hefty peice of pork belly with the crunchy skin still intact. It's quite the savory peice of pork belly, but it was definitely necessary to cut through all the sour vinegar flavours infused in the mushrooms and gastrique. I don't think I would've enjoyed the mushrooms too much on their own. And where you ask is the nori? It's actually subtly present in the nori gastrique painted artistically across the plate. Would've prefered actual pieces of nori, but I'll take it.

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Foie & Nutella ($25)

Even though this was a dessert, for me this Foie and Nutella was the main event. Was probably the first thing that caught my eye on the menu, and so we ordered it without knowing how much of a treat we'd be in for. A palm sized piece of foie gras placed on top a slice of banana bread, generously covered with nutella, rosemary hazelnuts, and a strawberry gastrique. I have to admit the price tag is a bit steep on this one, but every single bite was an enjoyable and sinful indulgence. Worth saving up your pretty pennies and stomach space for this one!

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