Monday, February 02, 2009

the hoof

it is difficult to go to any self respecting non ethnic restaurant (that category includes american, italian, french ...... pretty much any sort of food not from asia or africa) and not encounter some sort of charcuterie item on the menu. every cook and his/her mom and their neighbor are now curing their own meat and making some sort of pate, rillette. but it is not yet common to see someone opening a restaurant (not a deli) with charcuterie being the focus.

black hoof is located in a former bar in toronto (I have actually been to the bar on a number of occasions, even though I have been here less than a year). and this restaurant is not much more than a bar. the stove looks identical to the one I have in my apartment, when they sear the foie gras, the entire space (30 seats at most) smells like it. The menu is pretty much charcuterie, prosciutto, and a couple of cold and hot dishes.

for those who enjoy eating animal flesh, and offal, the food was fantastic, the charcuterie plate was easily the best I have had in any restaurant, everything tasted as they should, nothing was out of balance or seasoned incorrectly. the cassoulet inspired dish of kidney beans, duck leg meat, sausage and pork belly was wonderfully rich, each item cooked on its own (expertly done) and no breadcrumbs, but the flavor meld together like a real cassoulet should. pickled octopus with chorizo served in a jar was great as well, tender, tangy and yet again rich with flavor, oil and fat.

the service was unapologetically atrocious, just plain bad, no other way to describe it. the place was slow when we arrived, for a small place, it was well staffed, but they seem to be content to just hangout in the bar, instead of doing shit. when they do come to your table, you feel like you walked into the wrong place in china town if you are white, you can do no right. and for as much attention was paid to each dish, why didn't she coursed out the octopus and the cassoulet? I could have asked, but figured it should be a given, something so simple, but yet makes a difference. no help with the wine list, she didn't know the list (she suggested Bogel merlot from CA when I asked for a light red), but didn't bother to ask someone who did either. I think I could have had a better time if I ordered myself from the open kitchen and served ourselves.

I think this place will be (or maybe already is) successful, it was filled with hipsters by the time we left at 9:30, on a monday night. and base on what I ate, it should be packed, the dude knows what he is fucking doing in the kitchen. but my god, the word hospitality was definitely not on anyone's mind, at least not during my visit.


Jen said...

So sorry you had a bad service experience. I am very aware of what goes on in the restaurant and have worked hard to have a staff that is always on point with service. In fact, our head server is one of the best I've ever seen, so I can't imagine what happened the night you were in, and all I can do is ask that you give us a chance to make it up to you. I remember that night because I was worried the merlot would not be light enough, but as most of our wines BTG are very big and full-bodied, it really was the lightest one. I've run pinot noir and beaujolais by the glass before and find that they don't move, I think I'll look into some half bottles that are lighter bodied. I wish I'd come to talk to you about the wine, but was distracted by something and I do trust the servers with the wine list as we do weekly tastings and they are both very knowledgeable. Point is, we really work hard to give our customers an amazing experience with polished service, and I'm very sorry that you didn't get that. Hope to see you again, I'll be the one behind the bar, please say hi.
jen agg

pofu said...

Jen, thank you for your kind words, I was probably a bit harsh and unfair with my what I said, she did try hard.

and really, I don't know what the fuck I am talking about anyway.

but I do believe in your sincerity, and you obvious don't need my business, but you will certainly see me in there again. in fact, if any of my friends ever visit me here in toronto, your place will be where I take them first.