Monday, February 02, 2009
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.